The scenario at 8am today saw me sticking an envelope with cash in, on the pavement under a locked rusty green metal gate and grill system, and heading off to work with the vain hope it might still be there for the person it was intended for. Explanation is as follows. I’ve signed Tiddler up for a crafty activity day just before christmas, and as places are restricted it is a case of get your money in before the place goes to another child with a more ready cash flow. I booked through facebook, a level of technology I am au fait with, but then was asked to settle the bill by PayPal. Now for most of you, that wouldn’t be too much of a bother, but for me that is akin to peddling in some sort of necromancy. I don’t have a PayPal account, and I don’t want one, Ta very much. The ‘old school’ solution is of course that I drop the money in an envelope with my name on at an address that the lady will be doing an activity this morning, yet she and I get our timings wrong and the hall is locked up when I get there. Bizarrely, even the letter box is inside this Fort Knox level of security so I can’t even drop it in there. How do the Post office manage I wonder? Hence having to get on my knees in the morning gloom no doubt to the hilarity of passing traffic so I can wedge my hard earned pennies as far under the gate as possible. Not even a stick to hand to poke it in further. Clearly this isn’t a typical skinflintery thing to do- effectively leaving money out in the open for any passer-by to take a fancy to, but thankfully it did indeed get picked up by the intended party after a few hours of me feeling distinctly ill at ease. My solution worked.
So this gets me thinking about how as we say on one hand the world is shrinking, as globalisation and communication enables incredible multi-faceted, high speed interactions, but for some of us the world seems to get more complicated and distant if we choose to opt out. We find it more difficult to do what we want to do, as our ‘technology’ becomes old-fangled and we get potentially sidelined in our ability to be part of those interactions.
I joke sometimes we are Luddites in this household, as being anti-technology and fairly inept, but that is not what the followers of the invented Ned Ludd intended. They were not against the machines per se, but rather how they were being used, as this article explains. The changing conditions in the cotton mill counties and the sweep of industrial advancement was creating an inequality, and that is what fired up those Yorkshire lads to take matters into their own hands. For us though, with our interest in thrift and a more simple way of life, we do not protest and rage against the machine, but instead show a rather disinterested air of nonchalance towards the whole gambit.
Our home therefore doesn’t use PayPal, credit cards, internet banking, no Tv, no smart phones, no Sat Nav, no….. I can’t really go on with this list as I don’t even know what gadgets and gizmos are out there that other folks are clearly using on a daily basis. I don’t have the terminology, let alone the technology. I still like to pay with a cheque book, or a chip and pin. I stopped buying lunch in the work canteen last year when they went over to cashless catering, even though I know it is a simple case of putting money onto a swipe card in advance. I never bothered learning how to use itunes as I have plenty of music on CDs (and a few dusty cassettes). I complained to customer service in Tesco when they put in the new hand-held scanner system. My father has a sticker on his library card that gives him permission to use the actual desk with real people to get his books issued, rather than the self service machines. He jokes this black circle is the black spot of Blind Pew that signifies he is a marked man- in terms of age or infirmity I am not sure.
The point I suppose with this is that in my small acts of defiance or non-conformity I am, without smashing any spinning jennies or putting the fear into fatcat factory owners of the 19th century, staking my own little Luddite interference in this great sweep of modernity. Not everyone has access or skills for this advanced level of high-tech wizardry, and while we celebrate the great and the good, we should not let advancement leave behind the little man- there should be room for all.