The Old Woman and the QR Code

I’m not Ernest Hemingway however he did advise “Write hard and clear about what hurts.” There was no huge fish concerned in my story (simply an omelet) however the antagonist was a monster. The setting was not the huge sea nevertheless it was a room full of strangeness and uncertainty.  In essence, the battle I write of was epic.

The Exposition

The characters had been few. However the characters had been memorable. At the start, there was me: a lady and lately turned 60 and touring by air. Second, the dratted QR code. How laughable that QR ought to stand for ‘quick response’ – however that’s a little bit of foreshadowing. Third, the waiter within the lounge. Fourth, my savior.

The time was morning, round 8am. The place was Toronto’s Pearson Worldwide Airport. Particularly, an airport lounge. Not the Air Canada one, however the one for the remainder of the airways, the kids of lesser gods.

The Entrance Story

The plot was brief. The plot was easy. On a prolonged journey begun very early within the morning, I used to be transiting by way of Toronto and I went to the airport lounge to get some breakfast and I sat down at a desk and I regarded round for the menu. No menus had been seen. However there was a sticker on the desk with a QR code. So I pulled out my cellphone and I turned on the digicam and I attempted to scan the code. Zip. Zilch. Nada. The code and my digicam blissfully ignored one another. I checked out my telephone’s digicam setting however couldn’t determine it out. I used to be reminded of Ernest’s reflection; “How little we know of what there is to know.”

However I used to be not going to let such a small factor cease me from getting meals. As Ernie endorsed, “Now is no time to think of what you do not have. Think of what you can do with what there is.”  So I walked as much as a waiter and I politely defined that my digicam was not recognizing the QR code and I requested if I might please have a hardcopy menu. The waiter informed me they’d no hardcopy menus. Then I requested if he might simply inform me what they’d on provide and I might give him my order. He stated he couldn’t and I must scan the QR code to search out out. I defined once more that my digicam was not selecting up the QR code. To which he replied the equal of “Too bad” and left. Fortuitously, a fellow traveler who had overheard our alternate stepped in and saved me. “Luck is a thing that comes in many forms and who can recognize her?” … or quite him. First, he took my telephone and tried to scan the QR code … to no avail. Second, he quickly flipped by way of numerous screens after which resigning, mused aloud that maybe my telephone was outdated. He stated the phrase as if it was one thing unhealthy, one thing distasteful, one thing to be removed. Lastly, utilizing his telephone, he ordered breakfast for me. Battle over, bruised, humbled, and grateful, I ate.

The Again Story

My story had a contented ending, however why did there even should be a narrative?

I understand that QR codes might be very helpful for companies in offering plenty of details about a services or products to clients whereas utilizing little or no area. I see that QR codes have change into ubiquitous – equivalent to in eating places, the journey trade, and promoting. Satirically, even many providers particularly focused for the aged have QR codes. QR codes are actually typically used to supply info on quite a lot of well being points – equivalent to how you can take care of a fracture, the dosage of treatment to take, and post-operative care. I additionally perceive that, over the course of covid, companies have resorted much more to QR codes to supply touchless providers and to make up for workers shortages.

However what occurs to individuals who don’t have a smartphone or don’t have a smartphone superior sufficient to choose up QR codes or don’t know how you can scan a QR code? Does it imply they don’t get to eat? Does it imply they’ll’t avail of providers they’re entitled to? Does it imply they’re ostracized from taking part in society?

My story was a non-event – a non-serious scenario during which I had different simply obtainable choices. I might merely have stepped exterior the lounge and located a Tim Hortons to fulfill my breakfast wants. However what occurs when the wants are extra important and there aren’t any choices? Just like the aged man in China who couldn’t use the subway as a result of he couldn’t entry his personal well being QR code. In New Zealand, throughout a covid outbreak, bus vacationers who couldn’t scan the QR code of their bus couldn’t be simply traced later. Even exhibiting the proof of vaccination QR code on their telephone when touring or going to a restaurant might be tough and traumatic for the aged.

The Epilogue

I’m wondering if in our unreserved rush into automation and an info society, we’re leaving some folks behind. A 2021 survey famous that 14% of People on the whole discover QR codes laborious to make use of. Amongst the aged, this quantity rises to almost 20%, with 18% by no means having heard of QR codes. At the moment, the over-65s are about 55 million within the US (about 16% of the full nation inhabitants), 7 million in Canada (over 18%), 100 million in Europe (almost 20%), 35 million in Japan (over 28%), and over 700 million globally. And the share on this age group – together with their spending energy – is predicted to solely improve within the close to future.

The presence of QR codes shouldn’t negate the necessity to current info in different varieties. Simply because a restaurant has a QR code doesn’t imply it could actually put off all hardcopy menus. I get that within the time of covid folks need to keep away from touching and retouching menus. Then why not additionally put up the menu on a display screen or board? Or have ample workers who can take a second to inform you what’s obtainable. Making QR codes the one method clients or shoppers can entry info may very well scale back accessibility for the technically challenged who weren’t born with a telephone of their fingers in addition to the economically challenged who could not have the newest smartphone or perhaps a smartphone in any respect. And sure, probably additionally the ‘age challenged.’ Papa could nicely have been referring to QR codes when he contemplated, “I wonder if you keep on learning or if there is only a certain amount each man […or woman] can understand.”

Hemingway could have taken an earlier and  simpler method out when he ended his life together with his personal fingers on the age of 61. Maybe he understood solely too nicely the challenges that lay forward when he sort-of stated: “The QR code kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry.”

(This text was edited by Senior Editor Francesca Julia Zucchelli.)

The views expressed on this article are the creator’s personal and don’t essentially mirror Truthful Observer’s editorial coverage.

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