November 7th, 2002


We are the robots

In the past few days I have observed two separate people whose impatience demonstrated their minimal understanding of the relationship between man and machine.

Example one: Wednesday Morning, Metro. Just after the programmed voice chimed "Doors Closing", I hear something of a squeal, and then the three GW student-types (or interns, whatever) who were standing near the door helmetting are now holding a blue duffel bag with an office identification tag hanging from it. My first reaction was to assume they were just horsing around, but from what they said next and from the reaction of the guy next to me who had been watching, I concluded this: someone, I'm thinking a woman, was just about to catch the train as it was leaving, but saw the doors closing and swung her bag into the doorway by its long strap in the hopes of triggering a sensor that would tell the doors something was in the way and re-open them. Joke's on her: the doors on Metro are controlled by the conductor, and if s/he doesn't see it, it's a Snickers Cruncher commercial, folks. So the woman basically threw her bag into a departing train. I don't know what the guys did with it, but I'm sure she got it back.

Example two: This morning, elevator. My office is on the fifth floor. I got onto the elevator with three other people, who had already chosen floors 2 and 4. Elevator stops at 2nd floor, two people get out. Elevator stops at third floor, new person gets in who knows the guy already in the elevator with me. New guy complains, "I just couldn't take it anymore. That elevator was stopping on EVERY FLOOR. I had to get out." To which I asked, "on the floor right before yours?" The guy got off of the elevator on the floor before his floor because it was stopping too much.

This and the head of my department (my boss's boss) has two pieces of paper taped to the wall of his office right over his monitor. One is a giant dollar sign in green highlighter. The other has a chart of sorts that says:
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