Technology refers to the application of techniques, skills and methods in order to improve a work process for optimum results. In the light of that simple definition, many a people actually think our daily activities will be error-free with the use of technology. But how wrong are we? Take the foregoing story as an example. Sometimes ago, a traveler walks up to the lady attendant at the check-in counter and says: "Good morning! Could you please check me in on the flight to Winnipeg and send my bag to Cancun!” Surprised, the attendant responded politely, "I am sorry, Sir. I can certainly check you in on your flight to Winnipeg but your bag will have to go with you. I cannot send your bag to Cancun". The traveler, with a broad smile on his face, retorted "but you did it the last time.” However funny that short story was, it was not interesting at all, when what seemed an impossible request in that story replayed itself during a recent traveling experience I had from Toronto to Winnipeg in the company of my family including my husband and 3 kids.
Being a domestic flight, I thought I would not have to worry about immigration formalities. The issue of flight delay confirmed from the internet on the morning of our departure posed no threat. With everything in place, off we went to the airport. We got there well ahead of the scheduled departure time. The striking difference about traveling by air is the part where you can sit in the comfort of your office and check if there is going to be any flight delay or cancellation, make your bookings via the internet, and print boarding pass and baggage tags for ease of passage. With our baggage swiftly passed through at the check-in line, we made off to board the plane. I was amused that having undertaken all boarding formalities by ourselves we had left the airport staff with little or nothing to do. Transportation by air is the perfect example to explain the meaning of self-service. A couple of hours after, we had landed in Winnipeg. We were excited at the ambience of the newly-built Winnipeg Airport and its state-of-the-art facilities. However, our excitement was cut short when we found out only four of our baggages arrived. At first, it seemed a joke. And It was a moment my son seized most to make jest of his sister being the owner of the missing luggage. At last, it was no joke. The fifth baggage we were told is missing. We had to complete an application form to retrieve the missing item. We got an assurance that the item will be retrieved and forwarded to our destination of choice within 24 hrs. Later whilst following up on our application, it was revealed to me that our missing bag was actually found in Cancun! A similar experience, I recalled as we discussed events that trailed our trip, had occurred when sending my mom a package from Toronto to Winnipeg. That package eventually ended up in another land, precisely, Halifax.
The next day, I put a call through and still the missing luggage was in the process of being recovered. Surprisingly, I got a call two days after we had arrived that our missing luggage had finally been located in …. Where? Wait for it ….. Halifax! The caller assured the item will be re-routed to Winnipeg via Toronto. With the fear of what had happened, either by our thoughts or sayings, fairly in mind, the wise thing to do was not to say or think of anything till the missing item made its return. Finally, when we were made aware that our bag had made the long-awaited return, we promptly made arrangements to have it delivered at our preferred place, on the outskirts of Winnipeg, that same day. Although, our bag has been found, the highlight of this experience exposes the manifest limitation of technology. That technology has improved the various processes of human activity is not in doubt. This experience only shows technology cannot enhance human activity alone without guidance. Technology may have enhanced our travel formalities. That it requires control and direction provided by human beings clearly shows here. It is true technology brings efficiency and effectiveness to our work processes. It is also important to note that we will need the human being and technology to serve as check and balance on work done by each other. In the computer age, it is quite easy to rely on the “Delete” and “Backspace” of a keyboard to correct the errors that occur in a typing exercise. But it is a false sense of security to rely on spelling/language checkers to put up a correct sentence. Several years ago when the electric typewriter was the only probable available instrument of processing our written document to electronic format, my greatest fear was not to commit an error whilst at work. For anytime I did I always ended up making my work rough or I even start all over again. Nowadays, that fear of making a mistake has been taken care of with the advent of technology. More often, I am afforded the privilege of making mistakes and correcting them by myself, or it corrects itself. That said, whatever comfort and ease technology has brought to typing my works I still make it a point of duty to read my works all over again after it had been fully- made. This way I can find that word or sentence that is not appearing right before putting my works out to public view. The role of technology in improving our work processes cannot be over-played, no doubt. What we cannot careless about is the cost, apprehension and inconvenience created by errors arising from processes that were driven by technology. In the case of our missing bag, the consolation is that the error was quickly identified and treated in due time.