St. Charles Herald-Guide

R - U - CAR-azy?

By Barbara Munson - May 16, 2007

A recent news story reported that Washington is the first state to ban text messaging while driving. Text messaging while driving?! You would think that common sense would have that one covered, but then common sense isnít exactly common anymore, is it?

The video accompanying the news story included an interview with a professional woman who lamented over the fact that sheíll no longer be able to check her e-mail while driving her child to daycare.

If thatís not enough to make Social Services launch an investigation into her fitness as a mother, I donít know what is. It certainly has increased my desire for a Sherman tank for my morning commute.

For those who donít know, text messaging is done on a cell phone. It involves typing in a message using the standard numbers on the phone, since no actual keyboard is available.

For example, the number 2 has the letters A, B and C on the same button. Once the cell phone is in text mode, you would hit the number 2 twice in order to type in a B.

It takes quite some concentration and eyework to type in a message, and, joy of joys, now theyíre doing it while theyíre driving.

I didnít even know how to text a message until we were stuck in a Florida hotel room after Katrina. Cell phones werenít working, but text messages were getting through, and they were a godsend then.

There are now scandals in the schools, with kids being accused of cheating on exams by texting answers back and forth.

I donít doubt it. I know of one particular young person who sends over 500 text messages a month.

At this rate, I predict our young people will all have carpal tunnel syndrome within the next 5 – 10 years.

When you take into account that they use their own shorthand for texting, I also predict that 80% wonít be able to spell well enough to function in a business setting, unless they happen to use a spell checker. God help us.

While Iíve never witnessed anyone texting while driving, I can say that I have witnessed texting contributing to the further decline of customer service in retail stores.

If youíre over the age of 23, you probably donít realize that there used to be a thing called customer service, and it was wonderful.

Store managers used to stress this to all employees, especially the cashiers. As a teenage cashier, I was reminded daily that I was a representative of the store.

I was trained to greet the customer as he/she approached my counter and to thank him/her for shopping with us. It was drilled into my brain that the customer was the reason I had my job, and that a mistreated customer was likely to shop elsewhere.

Apparently retailers donít teach these things anymore. I sometimes wonder if the cashiers are trained at all.

Itís rare to have a cashier actually look a customer in the face these days.

Iíve even had some scowl at me because I had the audacity to enter their lines, thereby interrupting their cell phone conversations. Cell phones at work? Does anyone else find this odd?

Lately the rudeness and lack of customer service has hit an all time high, thanks to text messaging.

In the past two weeks Iíve had the pleasure of having my orders rung up by cashiers who kept ďpausingĒ in the middle of my order so that they could send their text messages.

One supermarket cashier kept stopping to ask the cashier next to her how to spell ďattitudeĒ – I came very close to giving her a live demonstration of what attitude actually is, but instead told her how to spell it so that I could get the heck out of there.

I should have sent a complaint letters, but I didnít. Perhaps I should text them my complaint!