The Chicago Transit Authority is switching its payment system to a debit card system called Ventra. The switch has been confusing. One of the issues is that the cards have to be registered online, and the system crashed while I was registering it. And so, I have a card that I cannot use. The online help system isn’t working, the phone line is busy, and it is too late to add value to the old Chicago Card.
This frustration is tiny in the grand scheme of things, but it is one that I don’t need right now. No one needs it. And this is why people get so tired: in the olden days, you took cash to the window, paid your fare, and got on. Now, you have to use a contactless debit card that has been registered online. It has real advantages over the old system – shorter lines, less chance of employee theft, lower costs for counting fares. I’m not going to tell you how great the old system was, because it was not great.
But this? It’s too complicated. Does it have to have online registration? Does there have to be a $5 fee for the card (refundable if purchased by a certain date and then registered online)? Couldn’t the transition period be longer? Who knows? But this is just one of those annoyances that makes modern life so exhausting.
I’ve written before about the Etsy/blogger/food truck economy, and there’s a real risk of exhaustion from that. It’s rarely efficient for one person to handle all of the aspects of running a business, and most tax and regulatory processes are designed for large corporations. When you are responsible for marketing and sales and production and sourcing and financing and taxes, it can easily be too much. (It can be exhilarating, too; it is fun to go to an office supply store and buy whatever pens you want, in whatever quantity you want, without some snotty office manager assuming that you are going to steal them.) There’s a very real risk of cultural and societal burnout here. We’re becoming a culture rubbed raw by a thousand little irritants.
It’s going to be a rough ride.