We’re delighted to publish another amusing story by Border Belle. Or as we now know her, Yorkshire Lass because she has moved south from Scotland and changed her pen name. What hasn’t changed is her ability to connect with other women over 50 who have, or are having, similar life experiences. Enjoy….
It happened the other day when my nephew looked on with disbelief as I carefully typed my pin number into a card reader. Seconds later he airily waved his mobile phone somewhere near the device. “Come on Auntie,” he grinned at my obvious confusion, “get with the century. You can do everything with a smart phone now.” So I agreed that the time really had come for me to cast aside my Luddite tendencies and use the rather attractive, twinkly silver square on my credit card for its intended purpose. Shortly afterwards, with Nephew’s help, I went contactless for the very first time.
Yes, all you technophiles out there who are probably scratching their heads and wondering what all the fuss is about… I’ve finally dipped my (beautifully manicured!) toes into the 21st century and I’ve gone contactless.
You can now donate to the homeless via their contactless card reader (usually to be found attached to their dog’s lead) or you can donate to God using the same technology, which helpfully comes attached to collection plates in places of worship across the land. And in Sweden, people are having chips implanted in their fingertips to speed them on their way. No, I’m not joking.
What a palaver about nothing I hear you say. Well maybe, but it occurs to me that all this contactless, whizz-kid technology is actually driving us further apart from our fellow human beings. Surely the very word ‘contactless’ somehow epitomises the direction in which life is going. And I for one have my reservations.
Goodness me I’m old enough to remember when people didn’t lock their front doors. No, not ever, except perhaps when going on holiday and even then it wouldn’t have induced a panic attack if they’d forgotten. Mum would have been gobsmacked (except they hadn’t invented the word back then) at any suggestion that she lock her front door securely and remember to take the key when she strolled down to the local shops. A delay of a few more minutes away from home enjoying a cuppa and a gossip with a friend would have been viewed as a matter of course and not a reason to worry. Nowadays, my city-dwelling friends are disconcerted when I admit that I don’t lock myself in at Yorkshire Towers. They view this as the height of irresponsibility; especially if I am home alone.
But I positively want contact with others (although not burglars, you understand!) I find the way society is going with this check out your own shopping, have your preordered flight/rail/cinema tickets at the ready all rather soulless. But the idea that don’t, for heaven’s sake, try to pay with any actual grubby cash is surely an unpleasant way to do business. It is also, dare I suggest it, somewhat alien, especially for the elderly. Or those folk out there who are slightly ahem… slower than their peers when it comes to embracing the sheer rapidity of technological change. And I cheerfully include myself in the latter category.
I positively want contact with others. I have a desire for pleasant, positive, life-enhancing contact with people which I view as a basic human need. One which I think we continue to subvert at our peril. So I decided to have a week where I went around with a positive mindset when it came to smiling at strangers (face-mask permitting) paying compliments if I could, and lending a helping hand if the occasion called for it. Husband thought I was probably going to get myself arrested for ‘acting creepy’ which I didn’t realise was an actual crime. Nevertheless, below are the edited highlights from my week as my alter ego, Mrs Smiley. And happily they don’t include time spent in a police cell.
I propped open the lift door in Tesco for an elderly man struggling with a huge box. He beamed at me and said, “Thank you, young lady.” It was more than worth it for the ‘young lady’ alone!
I complimented a stranger on her perfume to be told, “Thank you. It’s called Aura. £8 in Next. It smells like Black Opium.” I don’t know about that but it’s certainly a lovely scent and an absolute steal at that price. You’re welcome.
At the entrance to Boots, I came across Mollie near to tears and Mollie’s Mum scrabbling in her purse to find a £1 coin to unlock the child-friendly trolley which Mollie had obviously set her heart on pushing around the store. “Could you watch her while I see if I’ve got one in the car?” she asked. (Obviously, I look like a responsible adult and not like the creepy weirdo of Husband’s imagination.) It seemed easier to hand over my trolley token. I told Mollie that she could have my magic coin as a present and I assured Mollie’s Mum that I have plenty more at home. Not true but more than worth it for a happy Mollie and a grateful Mum together with a warm glow of satisfaction for me.
There are much bigger things you can do, of course. Sponsor a child overseas, run a marathon in aid of your favourite charity, give up your precious time and volunteer. The list is endless. But maybe start by simply offering a helping hand, paying a compliment or opening a door for someone. It will instantly brighten their day and yours. And that’s a kind of magic, isn’t it?
Actually, you know what? I want more meeting, talking and helping others. More IRL (in real life) contact, as Nephew would call it. So whilst I’m sold (no pun intended!) on contactless payments if only because it saves time at the till, I resolve to make eye-contact with the assistant as I collect my receipt. And instead of feeling mildly irritated as he/she wishes me a nice day, I’ll will wish them one too. Pleasant, polite, human contact. You really can’t put money on it.