Wednesday, May 22, 2019


In my job I have been typing in numbers as people read them to me over the phone for a very long time. These are barcode numbers. They are 14 digits long. I ask for them regularly.

The good news is that most people do an adequate job of reading their barcodes; sometimes they are too fast, sometimes (more often) they are too slow, but it is usually good enough.

Nevertheless there are problems.

There are people who say the word "space". This is strangely irritating and begs the question "How did they make it to adulthood thinking they had to say the word "space"?

"You don't need to say the word "space"" I tell them.

"Oh." They reply, the light dawning. "So that's why I've been hated my whole life."

There are people who cannot read numbers accurately. This is difficult and there is no cure for it.

Finally there are people who read four numbers and think they have to wait until you say "go ahead" in order for them to continue. This is more horrible than you can imagine. But after all these years of it I was suddenly inspired to attempt a cure.

I didn't say "go ahead". I just waited. And waited, and waited, and waited, like in a game of chicken.

Eventually, haltingly, they gave up and read more numbers, hesitated again, but less so, and continued shakily on to the end.

For a person such as myself, who likes to keep things moving along, this was painful and difficult.

But sometimes you have to invest in the future.

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