A student at my English corner yesterday made an insightful observation: “I think technological advances have made our lives worse.” Her point was that the increased availability of goods and services, from food to communication, has decreased our satisfaction and, consequently, enjoyment of life.
There is certainly a lot of good that is lost as a society progresses. Let’s all share examples.
I’ll go first.
I’m not sure of China’s official label on the developed/developing scale. I do know, though, that the North, my region of residence is less developed than the South. I also know that my city is less developed than some others in the North. I also know that my immediate vicinity is termed the ‘Jing Yue Economic Development Zone’ of the city. Suffice it to say my neighborhood is economically and technologically marbled. I’ve looked on unsurprised as BMWs passed a donkey-drawn cart in front of my college.
A few months ago, I was needing to transfer some of my Chinese salary to my American bank. It’s actually a frighteningly expensive and awkward exercise. Western Union gets the job done, though, and I was glad to learn from their website that WU considers Jing Yue developed enough to host a branch. Upon arrival, though, I learned it was a developing branch. As in, a computer glitch was blocking them from transmitting or receiving funds. John, the designated foreigner liaison used his smooth English to promise me the difficulties would be resolved “soon.” He collected my number and promised to keep me informed of developments.
I made the trek downtown and settled my affairs after three days with no word. Problem solved, the limping Western Union managed to escape my ponderings.
John called me last night (Saturday night. The bank was closed.). He remembered my visit, my name and my need to transfer money and wanted to let me know the system was again functional. He hung up with a wish to see me soon. Twenty seconds later he called again to give me his personal cell phone number in case I ever needed his help with anything. When was the last time your banker did that?
We may be behind with some technological advances, but we remember what good old-fashioned customer service is like. And it worked: I’ll definitely go there next time I need to send money. And it won’t have anything to do with cutting out the two-hour trip downtown and back.