Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The Personal Touch

It's not hard to find laments about how online-everything is destorying the social fabric of America, or at least unweaving and reweaving it into a nearly unreconizable new fabric. Today I went back to in-person communication for tasks that, I am sure, some undergraduates are unaware can be done in person.

First was paying my semester bill. A huge salary overpayment and a last-minute addition of a 25% TA delayed my tuition and health insurance waivers. Not wishing to come up with/shell out some $4000 more than I had to, I put off paying the bill until the official due date. I decided taking the time to pay in person would be worth a receipt demonstrating zero balance. Even in the Internet age, there was a line of some 20 people. The wait wasn't all that long, though - and I got candy. Some fraction of a penny of my fees' contribution to the bursar's operating budget was spent on fun-size candy bars at all the cashier's desks.

Second was making an appointment at the campus health center. I was in the vicinity anyway - it's next to the administration complex - and stopping in at a desk seemed more pleasant than coaxing phone signal in a windowless office and probably being put on hold. No candy treats here, just generic pleasantness in dealing with a person instead of a voice on the phone. I'm starting to grow very skeptical of the voice on the phone.

It's almost to the point that I might start using in-person as a matter of course. The option for doing this is so rare, it can't possibly be that much of a drain on my time.

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