They’re new, sort of.
They load easily onto your phone. They look slick, with nice colorful interfaces and easy to navigate menus. They help you create an account, sign in, and even give you the opportunity, strongly suggested, to add a method of payment to your account so that you’re always ready to go in an instant.
What are they?
Apps that serve one finely tuned purpose and have only one mission in life. To separate you from your money. Well, that’s not exactly fair. They do help you buy things, avoid lines, hurrying you on about your busy day. Read on.
I have used three of them most recently. One is a local app for Groucho’s Deli, a wonderful establishment that I frequent fairly often especially when I need a big salad for dinner as I’m starting a telepsychiatry shift. The other two are Starbucks, which is not new by any means, and Chick-Fil-A One, which is.
They are all slick, pretty, functional, easy to figure out and use. They all promise rewards of food or other goodies if you use them enough, tempting you to, you guessed it, come back in to buy more stuff. How do they serve you?
First they allow you to order ahead and pay ahead. You can review your potential purchases on the app, and it even learns your most common orders and allows you to order them again with just one or two clicks. Genius, right? When you get to the store, you just walk in, and in Starbucks you simply pick up your order and walk out. At Chick-Fil-A and Groucho’s you have to speak to a real live person, albeit three words and five seconds at most.
There is no waiting in line when you get there. In and out. Boom. Done. You may even have your own designated pick up zone. There is no need to see the rest of the store, to browse, or any chance to change our mind as you go by all the goodies at eye level at the register.
This is perfect, right? Order early, come in, no waiting, no mandatory human contact, out the door.
Well, you might enjoy talking to some other people at Starbucks in the morning. I mean, there may be some other readers or writers or Bible Discussion group folk or singer/songwriters or just simply the one other person in the state, other than you, who orders a tall non-fat half caf latte with cinnamon and sugar light whip and two ice cubes. You might (gasp) meet new people. Make a friend. Learn about somebody else and why they also get to Starbucks at five AM.
You might get to browse product lines and find something you really are interested in and might buy. Who knew you would like coconut milk in your coffee or that you really did look that cool with a double walled stainless steel travel mug that just happens to be lime green?
You would get to people watch if you hung around more than the forty five seconds it takes to come in, grab your chicken and cluck. For a wonderfully funny take on this, see Jeff Gamet’s blog Fresh Brewed Tales. It’ll make you snort chai though your nares.
Finally, you might get to come in, take a load off, sit a spell, think, plan your day or your week, read a little, listen to a podcast, or have a very pleasant conversation with that neighbor you never knew came to this place!
Yes, I keep saying it and I know you’re tired of it. I LOVE my technology. I really do.
But, the older and wiser I get, I am also coming to love the idea of reconnecting with people, experiencing new things, trying new tastes, and having to pull my good old leather wallet out to pay with rumpled green (or orange or purple or whatever the heck the colors of paper money are nowadays) cash.
You might try it sometimes.
By the way, I have deleted everything but my Starbucks app. It still has money on it, but it’s not set to actively and automatically reload.
When it’s empty, I’m going to nuke it too.