User Notes

Why I Don’t Like Touchscreens

I had quite a sobering experience the other day at the supermarket.

Our supermarket has a neat feature at the deli counter. It’s a kiosk with a touchscreen that allows you to “pre-order” your deli order, then go about your business in the store. You come back later, and your order is ready. Very nice.

The kiosk works by presenting you with options, while lecturing you in a voice that reminds you of that particularly pedantic English teacher you had, back in 6th grade. The voice explains your options  S L O W L Y  and clearly. This means that you are at each screen for several seconds. It usually takes a couple of minutes to make an order.

Well, I made my order, went around and got the rest of my stuff, then came back to pick it up. It wasn’t yet ready, so I had to wait.

As I was waiting, I watched the people using the kiosk, because that’s what I do. I watch people use technology.

There was this one gentleman, and I’m sure that he was a gentleman, that completely altered my outlook on touchscreen technology forever. here’s why:

He seemed very nice. In his late forties or so. Well-dressed in a casual sort of way. Probably drove up in a Lexus or Mercedes (This isn’t a low-rent neighborhood. I’m the hoi polloi). He was making a deli order. Now, here’s the frightening part:

As he was waiting for each page to complete, he was absently picking his nose. With the same finger he was using to touch the screen.


To make matters worse, just before touching the screen, he would absently lick his finger, exactly as readers do before turning a page.


I don’t know about you, but I’m not using that kiosk again. Maybe I need to wear latex gloves whenever I go shopping.