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28 July 2000, 01:00

You would think being the big fan of face to face interaction, that I would take any opportunity that came my way to actually participate in the world around me. Well, you would think so, wouldn’t you. Although I do lip service to the virtue of human interaction, I have done more and more in my life to limit such activity. Not even on purpose, I tell ya.

I just got direct deposit at work. This is where I don’t see my money at all. I just get a little slip of paper promising that they gave my money to my bank. Voila! No effort, nothing I have to do, noone I have to see. I even have this handy card is an ATM card and a pseudo credit card all in one and I have grown to love it with the white hot intensity of seven suns. This little card let me order from catalogs, buy online, make deposits at 2 in the morning, get cash at an ATM, and on occasion, jimmy open the back door when I’ve lost my key. Eliminates almost all the mumbly fumbly with tellers and bank employees.

So, everything that has to do with my money has been automated.

I do however lose this card a lot. I’ve had 22 of these cards since I opened my checking account. To replace one of these cards, you now can just call up the automated bank services line, and someone EVENTUALLY will help you get another. I have to do this because I opted for PUSH BUTTON banking, wherein I do all my banking by phone through the automated services line, a sort of Batan Death March-esque maze of options and menus which allows you to almost avoid all human contact.

My bank used to be pretty cool about shooting these cards out to me every time I lost one, liken it to a giant corporate pez dispenser, but since its latest merger with an even bigger bank, it has gotten to the point where it cares about me and my needs. “I see you have had 22 of these cards,” says the friendly toned CSR on the other end. “YUP”… is my standard answer. I think she wanted some other answer, or some indication of remorse for losing that many cards, or some pangs of guilt and shame, but being an old hand at irresponsibility, I don’t fall for it. Pensively, she explains that there is a new policy that the bank is going to be more strict in its bank card business, and yada yada yada. CSRs tend to sound like that to me after a while.

Her pitch was pensively and foreboding, probably trying to illicit some response from the little responsible adult she figured was buried deep inside me. Ha, was she a rookie. “Yup, whatever, need a new card,” I beebopped out, as I answered a multitude of questions. “You must take card of this, yada yada… did you know you have 19 overdraft charges…. yada yada…. new policy… might I suggest a savings account tied to your checking?” After her third quoting of policy to me, I had an outer body experience, but I came right back. “Savings account?” I asked. “It would be tied to your checking, and would prevent overdrafts…” … God, doesn’t this woman breath when she talks? “Ok…” This is another of my standard answers, designed to protract any encounter, although in this case it didn’t work.

Another five minutes of explanation, and another five minutes of my life that I can’t get back. “And you want this option for…” she started. “Do I have to do anything or go anywhere?” “No, I can do it for you…” “Then, OK, do it”….“Well, you know, if you let us take out the minimum activity amount to avoid the maintenance fee…” she tried again…“Do I have to do anything or go anywhere?” “No, I can do it for you…” “Then, OK, do it”… I don’t even know what exactly I agreed to. I figure that I’ll eventually see the path my money takes eventually, and if that path doesn’t lead to me, then I’ll go find a real person to kick a real ass.

I don’t have to tell you how big a part the internet has sucked up of my free time. Time where I could go out, breath fresh air, converse with my fellow human beings, smell the roses. Time where I don’t ride my ass online. Time where I could spend with friends I don’t see, and time to do nothing but hang out. Now I hang out online, coverse with names on a screen, emailed defined personalities, flickering friends that basically shutdown after I turn off the computer. No need to think of them afterwards or beforehand. Heartwarming isn’t it?

I also got cable TV. Yes, I’m weak and I got cable. But now that has elimated any need to go down to rent movies!! So, entertainment and money are being circulated around me and poured into vessels in front of me without the interaction or intervention of humans. I’ve successfully cut human interaction down to a minimum in my life. The one thing that I harp on everybody else who’s online not to sacrifice for the virtual world, I have slowly, methodically began to remove.

Life’s a bitch, when you find out your a hypocrite, ain’t it.