We don't receive many visits from T-Shirt Man, but he came in last week to use the innanet. As always, he was clad in a white T-shirt, though he wore a jacket over it, cause it's cold and stuff. As he was signing up for his session, he told me he was going to need my help "buying something."
My first thought was, What? More T-shirts?
My second thought was, Aw, shit, this is not going to go smoothly.
In my experience, patrons who don't already know how to order things online are, in 99 percent of all cases, unwilling to do the kind of things you have to do in order to order things online. Usually this amounts to not wanting to use a credit/debit card to place their order, cause the gubment will track them or someone once told them that if you use your credit card online you get the herpes, or something. More often, though, it's because they don't actually own a credit/debit card to start with and are stymied that the majority of all online transactions are done that way. ("Whuuut? I caint wriiiite a chehhhck?") As frustrating as those scenarios might be for them, actually conveying to them that there are no other options on the table is even more frustrating for us. As soon as he said he would need my help, I wanted to just say, "Sir, you may as well go on home right now, cause this is never ever going to work out the way you want it to." But, of course, I didn't say that. I just resigned myself to playing my role in the minor drama I knew was about to begin.
So T-Shirt Man surfed around the `net for a while in search of something to buy. He didn't seem to be searching for anything in particular, as far as I could tell, but instead seemed to simply be looking for SOMETHING to strike his fancy enough to purchase. He searched ebay for a bit, which I learned when he called me over to ask my opinion on a couple of DVDs that caught his interest. He even asked me the region of one of the DVDs, which surprised me because I would never have guessed T-Shirt man to be the kind of guy who even knew there were different DVD regions to begin with. Unfortunately, the DVD he had chosen, while listed as a DVD, turned out to actually be a video cassette someone had recorded from a DVD and was now trying to sell on ebay. After I pointed this out to him, he didn't want it anymore.
T-Shirt man eventually made his way to Amazon, where he found a genuine DVD for sale that he liked. Again, he asked for help, this time in the purchasing process. (Wheeee, here we go.) So I showed him how to add it to his cart and how to then hit the checkout button and then the delivery information page, etc. When we came to the credit card blank, he mentioned that he didn't have one. This was where I thought he would go off the rails and he would go on home right then. Then he mentioned that he had an American Express gift card he wanted to use. Ah, very good. Perhaps I was wrong and this would turn out to be a straightforward thing.
Then he came to the blank for an email address--a required field. T-Shirt Man said he didn't have an email address. I tried to explain that they were fairly easy to aquire, and free, but he wasn't interested in all that. He didn't need an email address and furthermore didn't want one. I shrugged and told him that this was his choice, but the email address was a required field for Amazon orders and the site would not proceed further unless he supplied one. It was his choice. I offered to show him how to get an email account, but he didn't want to hear any more. I shrugged again and walked away.
After staring at the screen for a while longer, T-Shirt man came to the circ desk and asked me again if Amazon was really serious about wanting an email address. I assured him they were. They had the little asterisk by the blank and everything.
"Well, they don't want my money, then," he said. And then T-Shirt man went on home. (Or, at least, out the door.)