The Seventy Year Old Protestor

Ivan Rushkoff knows better than to go grocery shopping on Saturday afternoon and normally he doesn’t. Normally he does his shopping on Monday, after everyone has gone back to work, but this week he has to be at the doctor’s first thing Monday morning. Experience has also taught him that if you do have to shop on the busiest day of the week, then make sure you’re there right when the store opens. However, last night’s lawn bowling awards ceremony kept him out later than usual, so there he was standing in a long line of people waiting to be checked out. He was five minutes into his wait when he was approached by the store manager.

“Excuse me, sir,” the manager said to Ivan. “One of our self-checkout lanes is open if you’d like to use it.”

“I’m good thanks,” Ivan replied.

“They’re super easy to use and will save you waiting,” the manager insisted.

“I’m sure they are easy to use, but as I said, I’m good,” Ivan insisted in return. “Although now that you mention it, there is something else that could save me the wait.”

“What’s that?” the manager asked.

“Open more lanes.”

The manager gave a pained smile to what Ivan had just said and then wished him a good day.

Ivan doesn’t care how many self-checkout lanes are open, he will never ever use one. He refuses to use ATM machine as well. He doesn’t order anything on-line either. He knows what will happen if he does: another person will lose their job. His great-grandfather’s carriage business went the way of the dodo once cars were invented. His uncle, whose stutter didn’t stop him from being a silent movie actor, found himself out of work once talking pictures came along, and he saw his own wife lose her job as a receptionist to an automated answering service. Planes are now being flown unmanned, surgeries are being performed by robots, and it seems that there are less and less cashiers wherever he goes; bank tellers, too.

Ivan will stand in line however long it takes. It’s not much of a protest, at least compared to the ones he took part in back in the late sixties and early seventies, but it’s something. Something that might save a job or two.


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