Saturday, August 28, 2010

New standard for pain at the checkout

The acronym OMSB (Outer Mongolia State Bank) and the scope of its concept as a euphemism for the person in front of you taking an inordinate amount of time to checkout has become inadequate. I now laugh in the face of a mere OMSB time increment as incidental.

The new standard of infamy is OSSB (Otis Sistrunk State Bank). Otis was a great football player for the Oakland Raiders. When introduced before a game, he declared his alma mater to be “The University of Mars” (Otis had proudly served in the Marine Corps but had no college affiliation). I have learned that our retail data processing systems have even slower access to the Martian financial systems than to those of Outer Mongolia.

I personally belong to a peculiar arcane cult that still utilizes slips of paper and metal disks to pay for most purchases. For any youth reading, this is called “cash”. Although I believe that “cash” will eventually go the way of the wooly mammoth, for now it is still acceptable.

There is nothing wrong with the debit card concept. The fly in the ointment is bandwidth. A swipe followed by the Final Jeopardy tune in its entirety prior to approval is ludicrous.

At the other end of the spectrum, we have the magnificent State of Illinois Department of Transportation IPASS system. IPASS incorporates a transponder in your vehicle that is detected by a receiver when you drive through a station. Your account is debited by a specified amount, and you don't even have to slow down. We are “encouraged” to use the system because cash payment is double the passthrough amount. Probably the increased fare for cash is necessary to pay for hands on labor costs.

I will keep you apprised of any breakthroughs in this area as I become aware of them.