I was at the post office the other day picking up a package, and I had to sign my name on the signature machine there. If anyone’s ever been a part of this, you know that the signature is never anything like what it’s intended to be. This machine has only two tasks that it needs to complete, as far as I can tell: be a place where one can legibly write their signature, and transfer that signature electronically, to some database of sorts. Now the second part of this I cannot attest to due to my inexperience working on the back end of the system, but the first one I can say with certainty that it handles absolutely awfully horribly. Any attempt at written clarity is negated immediately by the wobbly nature of the utensil, leading to an inky apparition that wouldn’t pass any sort of quality assurance test of anything.

And for a company as large as our national postal service to use this device, at all their locations, there had to be a mountain of people who would need to approve it. First of all, the company that makes the machines has to be satisfied with the product. Then one of their salespeople has to demonstrate its efficacy to a postal employee, who must be impressed enough to show it to their team of managers, one of which must explain to an executive why this is the superior product on the market. All I can say is, there has to be more than a few people getting greased on this deal.

Then again, I suppose any signature is, at best, just a scribble nowadays anyways. Most end up as squiggly lines that can be replicated by anyone with an opposable thumb. But still they are important and required in order to send packages, receive packages, buy houses, assume guardianship of a child, and buy a tin of drink (if the tap and keypad both aren’t working). So maybe we’re all getting greased, one way or another.

February 3 – Warwick Davis gets a study of postal signature devices
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