Sound case for Reminder Robots

Most rational thinkers would agree I am light years, nay, decades, away from Winston's SuperGold Card.

And yet Winz appears to be working on some incoherent and totally illogical numbers system wherein the year in which you are born seems to carry more relevance than the way you are. Winz has been bombarding me with mail and glossy pamphlets suggesting it is Time, unaware I still prefer marshmallows to duck confit, and Mountain Dew, banned in America, to pinot noir. No man on the cusp of 65 would behave in this way.

But there is no rational thought in the Winz Latin motto (Fillum formae nunc, fillum ultra formae iterum - fill in forms now, then fill in forms again) that hangs above their door in Castle St. So I have dutifully begun the process that in a couple of months will result in free public transport between certain hours, when it is safe to let old people loose, not at night, when they could create serious criminal havoc in dance clubs or inner city bars.

However, I have to confess that during my session with Winz last week, that absurd theory that life is a big circle, that we just travel right around it and finish up as a child again at the end, is possibly more than half true. I think therefore an extremely sound case could be made for gold-carders and beyond to have robots sitting at their front door like evil-quashing lares and penates, ensuring that nothing is forgotten when it is time to go out. Let us call these things Reminder Robots and let us suggest the council's business development unit channel all its energy from now on to prevent old age becoming a hopeless wild-eyed hellhole.

Last week, I had an appointment at dawn with Winz to fill in some forms. Its letter listed a number of documents I would have to bring in, and being a one-step-ahead kind of guy, I added a few more I thought might be needed, proof-of-existence materials like certificates from age-group table tennis triumphs and international airline boarding passes.

But as sure as moray eels have teeth, Winz found something I hadn't brought, a bank statement verified with stamp and physical signature, not just, a bank statement. So I had to go to the bank, after I went back home to get forgotten reading glasses for the forms. A Reminder Robot would have sorted the latter at the front door when I left, but as it functions ideally like a snake on the Snakes and Ladders board, sending you back to the start when you make a mistake, returning home was an acceptable punishment. Ideally, I could have used a Reminder Robot when I re-presented myself at Winz with the verified bank statement as well.

''Do you have the verified bank statement, ROY?''

''Yes of course I do, Robot, it is here in my hand.''

''Have you looked at it?''

''No need. I am not a child.''

''You ARE a child, Roy. You are a very long way around the Circle of Life - look at the document in your hand.''



''It is the wrong document. I must have got them mixed up in my supermarket bag.''

But there was no Reminder Robot. I left the wrong document at reception and fielded a call 20 minutes later asking where the correct one was. So, no smarter than a 4-year-old with shoes on the wrong feet, I returned to Winz to straighten everything out.

This will probably be my life from now on as I move inexorably back to the age of nought, bolstered only by the knowledge I have a card that gets me free bus rides, invented by a man I have laughed derisively at every time he comes on the telly since 1978. I am scanning the SuperGold Card website carefully. There are no Reminder Robots, not even a hint they may be around the corner. I may have to eat the entirety of my moral code and ring Winston up.

- Roy Colbert is a Dunedin writer.

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