I'm Craig. I've got a wife and a kid and a far too familiar relationship with Tumblr's Reply button. I'm not as cool as you, but that's ok. I know you love me just the way I am.
Before work this morning, I went to the gas station to add some air to the tires. I find it frustrating that pretty much all places charge for that now. If you don’t have enough quarters to run the machine, you’re pretty much out of luck, and since I almost never carry cash, that usually means I am too. However, a more recent development has been compressed air machines with credit card readers installed. No quarters? No problem. Put in the card, get charged a dollar, and start filling. Smart, right?
When I went to fill the tires this morning, I tried to insert my card and found what I have found on many occasions since these machines started showing up. The credit card reader is blocked, because someone shoved a quarter into it rather than the coin slot a couple of inches away. (Fortunately, I’d recently raided Melissa’s purse for change for a vending machine, so I had four quarters.) Both the coin slot and the credit card slots are clearly marked. They are sized appropriately, to indicate the purpose of the slot, but still people use it incorrectly. My immediate response is to declare everyone idiots (which is partly true, because clearly people aren’t paying attention), but then I realized that it’s not like it’s the same person again and again. These are random people encountering something very similar to what they are used to, but with a fundamental change. The problem is certainly user error, but it is one that could have been fixed using appropriate systems and design. The card reader is a slot where the entire width of the card is inserted and goes into the machine. This slot, while wider, is virtually identical to the coin slot. Card readers exists, and I have used them in various places like some ATMs and vending machines, where the card reader is vertical and only the portion of the card with the strip is inserted (similar to virtually every card reader/pin pad at any store). This would be much harder to mistake for a coin slot, and coins would not get pushed so far into the machine that maintenance was required to remove them. It’s a simple solution that prevents a repeated problem.
I’m not really sure what the point here is other than that constantly thinking about human error reduction is creeping into my thought processes outside of work.
Well, that and that the entire issue reminds me of the episode of Parks and Rec where they try to keep the people of Pawnee from putting their mouths on the water fountains.