Michael Thiele is a woodsmith who makes musical instruments and playable furniture. He spends most of his life either in the shop or out on the road buying wood and selling his work at craft shows. In recent years, his travels have begun to inspire his own writing, so he sends me his thoughts.
The Letter C
Catastrophe, chaos, confusion and computer. Know what these words all have in common? They all start with “C.” Sad, because it’s the third letter of the alphabet. The third one. Three is one of my favorite numbers. Three stands for good in my book. So why does “C” have to go and sully such a good thing? Computer is the worst offender of all in my experience. It is the place where good intentions go to die. This morning, at 2:57 a.m., computer had gone and trashed me again. I wanted to smash it. Gentle me. Nice me.
The time signature on my iPad read 7:37 last night when I pressed the button affirming that I was indeed booking the reservation with Airbnb for an important stay in Sarasota next week. iPad unexpectedly and cruelly berked out a notice: not so fast, buddy. We need to check your I.D. in order to complete this reservation. You’re on hold. It ordered me to take a picture of a government photo I.D. and submit it for “verification” purposes. A.I. (artificial intelligence - some genius has gone and connected those two words), which had taken up residence somewhere in my iPad, shortly informed me that my I.D. as submitted was invalid. Try again, it ordered me. My thought at the time was, “Inconvenient but I’ll do it.”
I re-submitted. Minutes later the notice came that my I.D. was once again deemed invalid. “Try again,” I was told. Annoyed this time, I did. Guess what happened. You got it - same result. Beginning to steam, I called a contact number in San Francisco on the other end of which was a syrupy nice woman who proceeded to walk me through a variant of my image submission after which she said she’d get back with me. She didn’t. A.I. guy, on the other hand, did. He rejected me. Again. Let me remind you now: where’s all this taking place? That’s right. In computer land. And what letter does computer begin with? Could it be “C?” I called again. This time a guy answered. Again, nice. Unjustified hope set in for a moment.
Round four was repeated. By now it was well after 1 a.m. I was informed that a specialist would be contacting me by email to work things out. He did not. Over an hour later Mr. A.I. got back with me with a curt message that I needed to re-submit again by 2:57 a.m. or my pending reservation would be canceled. Worn out at last I went to sleep thinking I’ll just try VRBO in the morning. Think I could just call them? Better yet, maybe a motel. But please, no more “C.”