Rob Cash stands at the Pearly Gates of Heaven, waiting to see St. Peter.
“It won’t be very long,” said one of the gate keepers. “We had a lot of applicants today, mostly sinners. To speed up the process, have your church attendance reward card handy if you have one.”
Rob said he forgot his wallet and asked the guard if there was a way to get home to retrieve the reward card. He added sternly that he had practically had perfect church attendance all his life.
The guard gave Rob a stink eye and told him that the only place Rob could be kicked out of the doors, if they don’t open for him, is hell.
Rob did not approve of this option.
“Guess I’ll have to try my luck without the card,” he said.
At the time of this writing, I could not confirm if Rob had walked through the doors. I guess it’s confidential.
And yes, I’m making that up. Too much daydreaming.
Rewards programs, credit card incentives, airline miles, restaurant points – that’s a lot of stuff that average consumers need to keep track of. Of course, many restaurants, retailers and other service providers can provide this information to consumers.
Sometimes it takes time, however.
When I was second in line to pay for my order at a sandwich shop recently, the woman in front of me was trying to redeem her rewards points for buying a meal for her family. The cashier was doing her best to apply the points, but they seemed lost in cyberspace.
The restaurant patron was getting impatient, but not as much as a guy behind me who was apparently on a lunch break after work.
“You need another register!” he cried as he left without waiting for his meal.
The boss who was trying to apply her points, meanwhile, was tapping on her phone’s keypad to bring up her rewards. No chance. She paid for her meal but returned to the checkout 20 minutes later in what appeared to be an attempt to prove she had the points.
Not sure she succeeded. I managed to feel uneasy about the direction consumerism is taking with technology to the point of nausea.
As I said in a recent column, I’m a little restless about having to do so much on my cellphone these days. I understand that smart phones are getting smarter and it’s convenient to use barcodes and other information at your fingertips. I bet the day will come when you can flush the toilet with an app on your phone.
I remember spending a few months at a store checkout with my mom trying to buy soap and about $10 worth of other merchandise. An employee asked me if I wanted to apply for a credit card that would give me enough points to pay for the goods and yada, yada, yada.
I politely declined. He went on to say that he didn’t understand why I didn’t want to apply for the chain store credit card.
I couldn’t understand why he couldn’t understand that we just wanted to pay for our goods and leave. Call me a jerk, but I don’t feel safe having more than two credit cards and keeping track of all the benefits, rewards or whatever. And I don’t want to hire an accountant to do it for me.
One exception, at least for me, was using free air miles for being a frequent flyer or whatever the term was when I flew a lot. It was the pre-pandemic era. From what I understand, airline miles expire, so I doubt I have any left.
I also doubt they’ll take me to the Pearly Gates.
Tom Germond is the former editor of the Tampa Bay Newspapers.