Tuesday, 28 February 2017


My car had become unacceptably filthy, so as I had twenty minutes to kill this morning I took it down the garage and ran it through the £3.99 option 3.  This is supposed to wash, wax and dry.  As it turned out, it may or may not have waxed, it sort of dried, and it quite failed to wash the dirtiest bits.
I don’t get the car washed all that often, preferring to wait for its six-monthly service.  In the meantime windows, lights and number-plates will suffice.  So it was, as I said, pretty dirty.  But surely the whole point of paying to get something done is not to have to do it yourself?  Especially, not to have to do the hardest bits yourself?  And, isn’t automation supposed to be better than humans at simple tasks?
Down the Oxford Road in Reading, there’s a ‘hand car wash’ which I used once a few years ago.  It took around twenty minutes, which is about evens timewise.  It cost, back then, £4.95.  Even if that’s gone up to £5.99 by now, I reckon my time to hand-finish the job the machine failed to auto-complete will be worth considerably more than two quid.  So in what sense can automation economically out-perform human effort, for even such a simple task?  And if it can’t even achieve that, how can I possibly expect it to drive the car to the carwash and back as well?
Of course, it’s academic, because the guys who beautifully cleaned the car down the Oxford Road won’t be there anymore.  They’ll have been repatriated.

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