Phones should be slaves, not masters

Is it just me who is cheesed-off with the assumption by everything from theatres to parking meters that I must do everything on a smartphone?

I tried booking a doctor’s appointment today. Being a Sunday, this couldn’t be done over the phone so, I took to their website.

All was well until the final screen demanded I punch in “a four-digit code to confirm this booking” – which they would very kindly text to my phone.

Now, whilst I live the idyllic rural, country dream and appreciate my wide open spaces and clean air, and daily visits from cockatoos, , the one thing I rarely experience at home is decent mobile coverage.

I remember the first time I rang my telco to inform them of the reception problem (from the landline I had to have specially-installed to address the issue) the disinterested voice on the end of the line asked ‘how I was holding the phone?’

To this day, I’m still mystified as to what difference she thought that would have made, unless she thought I had gaffer taped up the antennae. It reminded me of the Tommy Cooper joke where he goes to the doctor and says: ‘My arm hurts when I hold it like this’, and the doctor says ‘Well, don’t hold it like that then.’

But, desperate for this doctor’s appointment slot, I knew I faced a drive of three (and possibly nine) kilometres to get the satisfying ping of confirmation, depending on which way the wind/ humidity was blowing, and obviously, the way I was holding the phone.

The other thing was, my phone was almost dead. It has an uncanny knack of draining faster than a gambler’s bank account – and today was one of those days.

So I found myself in the faintly ridiculous position of pulling over every few hundred metres, swinging the blasted thing around my head like a lasso, and then ringing home. Which took several tries because… of course I hadn’t driven far enough away. Urgh!

Eventually, someone at home answered the phone, and was able to punch the code into my laptop. Because if they hadn’t, there was a real risk of driving home only to find the code had time-expired, and I’d have to do it all again.

I’m left wondering, did the advent of smartphones really advance human civilisation?

After all, the doctor’s surgery is three kilometres from my house.

Next time, I shall wait until Monday.