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Has Technology Made Us Careless?
A guy walks up to the check-in counter at the Toronto airport and says to the attendant “Good morning! Would you please check me in on the flight to Winnipeg and send my bag to Cancun!”. Although a little surprised by the request, the woman behind the counter politely replies “Sorry sir. I can certainly check you in on your flight to Winnipeg but your bag will have to come with you. I can’t send your bag. to Cancun”. The gentleman smiles and replies “But you did it last time!”.
I wish I could tell you that this is just a funny story-which it is. Unfortunately, however, it is based on true experience. My family including myself, my husband, and 3 children recently traveled from Toronto to Winnipeg. I’m generally more relaxed traveling on domestic flights-no borders to cross and no customs to go through. Things usually go pretty smoothly with the odd flight delay or cancellation.
The morning of our flight to Winnipeg I checked my email and discovered that the flight had been delayed about an hour – no big deal. We arrived at the airport with plenty of time to spare.
Anyone who has traveled recently knows how much things have changed over the last few years. Most of the process is now deferred to the “customer”. I am waiting for the day when someone will tell me that I have to fly the plane myself!
Anyway, I checked us all out online the night before and printed out all the boarding passes. When we got to the airport, I used the self-service terminal to print our luggage tags and we applied the tags to our bags ourselves. In all honesty, there really wasn’t much left for the airport staff. We quickly moved through the baggage check line and handed over all 5 bags together. We then boarded the plane and about 2-1/2 hours later we landed in Winnipeg. So far so good.
Winnipeg recently built a brand new high-tech airport. We went through baggage claim and positioned ourselves near where the bags came out of the carousel.
Four of our bags showed up pretty quickly. Then we waited. My son, who often takes opportunities to tease his kid sister, jokingly said “Your bag went to Cancun!”. We really thought it was a joke at the time, but when we saw the light flash indicating there were no more bags to follow, we began to wonder just what happened to the missing suitcase.
To make a long story short we finished a “missing suitcase” report and left the airport with 4 out of 5 bags. My 10 year old daughter was upset but actually handled the situation remarkably well. I was thankful that the missing suitcase was hers and not my 17 year old daughter or husband! It wasn’t until late that evening that we discovered her suitcase had been sent to Cancun! We were told it would be on a plane to Toronto the next morning and then on to Winnipeg. We could either pick it up or arrange for it to be delivered to where we lived.
In our conversations that day I remembered sending my mom a package from Toronto to Winnipeg and somehow it ended up in Halifax! The next day we did not receive a phone call. I followed up late in the morning and was told the suitcase had not arrived in Toronto or Winnipeg. At the time they didn’t know where it was… It wasn’t until 6.30pm on our 2nd day that we were told the suitcase was finally in Halifax!
I was assured it would be shipped to Toronto the next day and then to Winnipeg. At this point I didn’t know what to believe but we all agreed not to talk about further travel destinations! Fortunately, we did get a call the next day that the bag was at the Winnipeg airport. We made arrangements to have it delivered to the cottage we were staying in about 1-1/2 hours outside of Winnipeg. We had the suitcase that evening.
This incident made me wonder. How could something like this happen in this day and age of technology?
There is no doubt that technology has improved our lives in many ways and automated many routine processes. However, it still has its limits. If humans are involved, then so is human error. Somewhere along the way my daughter’s suitcase was handled by a human and misplaced even though it was clearly labeled with an electronically generated baggage tag that showed the airport code for Winnipeg.
Often you will hear people say “I’m only human. I make mistakes”. This is exactly why we still need to check our work. To some extent technology has made us careless. It gives us a false sense of security and we forget that we are just using tools.
Spelling is a perfect example. It is limited in terms of the errors it can catch.
I can remember years ago when I used to type essays on an electric typewriter. I was so careful not to make a mistake knowing that it meant I would have to erase and retype any mistake. If I erased too hard it would make a hole in the paper or a stain – which meant I would have to retype the whole page. If there was carbon paper in between (to make a copy) that compounded the problem even more! We’ve come a long way with computers and keyboards, but I’ll be the first to admit that I became a sloppy typist and became very dependent on the “Backspace” and “Delete” keys!
One thing I’ve learned over the years is the importance of double checking my work. Whether it’s a detailed document or a short email I usually re-read what I write several times before sending it.
Technology has made it easier for us to relax and make mistakes. In the suitcase example mistakes resulted in aggravation, inconvenience and wasted money and time. Fortunately, these mistakes were relatively small and had temporary effects.
Yet all too often mistakes lead to costly and sometimes devastating results.
Technology has its limits. Take a few extra minutes and check back!
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