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Our lives are on fast forward - Bob Paslay

Our lives have gotten put on fast speed by the hustle and bustle of society and many people have not adjusted their behavior to conform to this change.

The ATM machine I use on Ga. Highway 138 in Jonesboro is stuck at the end of a parking lot of restaurants and other businesses. It is located right next to an opening that leads to the bank itself. The problem is there is no way for the cars to stretch back in a line without being in the way. This means it is essential for people to drive up, get their business done and then move on so the line behind can also use the machine and not block everything up. So I have used the machine so many times I know you have to make sure you have the card pointed right. Then there are six or so questions you can answer as fast as they ask them. English or Spanish? Secret code? How much? Money from checking or credit? Want a receipt?

What annoys me are the people who act like they have never seen an ATM and have no one waiting behind them. They pull up and that is the first time it occurs to them to roll down their window and then they have to start sorting through their purse for their card and then they put the card in backwards. Then each question seems like the toughest question on the law school exam because it seems to take them the longest time to answer each one. And if they get money they have to put it neatly in their wallet and put the wallet back in the purse. What gets me is that if they pulled up a car length, they could be doing their finishing up business while the person behind them could be using the machine.

The older and more cantankerous I get, the more I notice things like this. I am walking down a sidewalk and a group of high school kids or a family is taking up the entire sidewalk. Where, I ask myself, do they think anyone else is going to walk? And then I realize they don't think. I am a glass of water, a petty annoyance and I can just step into the sideditch and get out of their way.

Maybe I think too much about the other person. I am the kind who notices that something is not priced and I set out in search of customer service so I won't hold up the people behind me waiting for the checkout person to do a price check. I run my items under a scanner if they have one to make sure it is priced right without arguing with that same checkout person. I never go out entrances in parking lots if there is a designated exit. I don't empty my groceries or other items out of a cart and leave it sitting in the middle of the parking lot. I push it back to the store or that island of carts near a light post designated for empty carts.

I am Southern and I enjoy the fact that we take things slower, but it is starting to annoy me when people chat a lot with the checkout person while I am holding my items waiting to pay and get out of the store. These people who do this act as if they are the only person in the world that matters. Again, we are Casper the Fuming Ghost standing behind them. Is it that they are purposely rude or are they doing what they always have, but the world has gotten faster?

I remember the 50s and you could walk in a downtown store and see almost no one in there and you could talk to the bored clerk for 20 minutes if you chose. They even seemed to welcome someone breaking up their boredom.

But now, no matter what time of day or night I go into the 24-hour pharmacy there is a line waiting to check out. And never, and I mean never, do I progress through the line without problems ahead. "What do you mean this is not on sale. The circular said it was on sale." "Manager please come to the front for a price check." "What do you mean this coupon is out of date? You always took them in the past." "Manager come to the front."

I have even been behind people with a million groceries who don't bring enough money. Then it is like one of the games on The Price is Right. "Here, take this can of soup off. How about this package off? Put the soup back on." I stand with my two items hearing my arteries hardening. If they get within 50 cents of having enough I am always tempted to hand them two quarters to get them out of the way.

I notice more in restaurants they let you sit there as if you weren't there. Then they could be getting you coffee while your order is being processed but they don't. And then they deliver your food and you never see them again. And like a robot customer I add on the 15 percent and hold my tongue.

In a thousand ways the world is speeding up and more and more people are annoying me.

Bob Paslay is assistant managing editor for the News Daily and Daily Herald. He can be reached at (770) 478-5753 Ext. 257 or at bpaslay@news-daily.com .