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A technical question:

Is there an etiquette for dealing with automated systems?  Phone calls, ATMs, self check-out lines – all of them have a tendency to break down and I just want to hit something.


Provided you’re only hitting the machinery (and not doing any property damage), knock your lights out.

And I mean your lights, because my memory of tangling with a parking meter once – hazy due to the amount of alcohol consumed (by me, not the parking meter, I think) – ended up being PARKING METER – 1, YNTQ – 0.

The issue here is frequently these things have a human element besides your own excellent self.  If the parking meter breaks your hand, you’ll soon be dealing with a paramedic, if not the police.  It isn’t their fault, so don’t take it out on them.

Likewise with self check-out scanners and ATMs.  Someone will generally be along shortly to help you, and if not – there are invariably people standing behind you waiting for their own turn with industrial-strength frustration.  If you aren’t able to sort out your issues in a reasonable time-frame, stand aside and let other people wrestle with it for a while.

You might learn something.  You might calm down.  Both of them might help you deal with the problem at hand.

You can just hang up on the phone if you like.  If there’s no on on the other end, it isn’t rude.

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