In a short story I read recently, “The Language of Things Around the House” by Lydia Davis (from her Can’t and Won’t collection), she talks about words and sounds she, I actually don’t know how you’d put it: thinks she hears around the house? hears in the sounds these things make? thinks when she sees these particular things, internally, but so coherently it is almost like the impressions are words being spoken aloud. This isn’t exactly that, but I experience a similar phenomenon every time I use my debit card at the store.
You know you use the touch screen? Swipe your card, and then follow the prompts? Every time I get to the screen where it asks “Do you want cash back?” or “Would you like cash back?” I always pause for a moment, and it’s like this little silent internal dialogue occurs.
It starts with a voice inside the machine. Always a female voice, usually with a slightly British accent. Helpful and professional, like a bank teller or telephone operator. “Would you like cash back?”
And I always respond the same: “Why yes, yes I would…Just not from my account.” Ha ha.
And then she says: “Very well, sir.”
And that’s it. But it happens every time.
Because who doesn’t want cash back? Of course I would love some. I just don’t want my cash back, because then it wouldn’t be there for the other things I need it to do. e.g. the mortgage, the electric bill, insurance, etc. If the little screen prompt asked “Do you want any of your cash back?” the answer to that would be a simple “No,” and I would probably skip this whole involuntary internal exercise.
If anyone knows who is in charge of those little machines and the contents of their little screens, please kindly let them know that I’d like a word.