This poem was written in 1967, long before self-service checkouts and tube stations without staff. Having said that, a mate of mine told his Jobcentre advisor he wanted to be a DLR train driver and it too the said advisor 5 months to realise the Docklands Light Railway has driverless trains. Progress.
The poem is from the 1968 It’s The World That Makes The Love Go Round anthology of poems from Breakthru poetry magazine.
The Day The Machines Came
They said, ‘Go get your cards.’
So I walked across to the personnel office.
Jenny was there.
‘You too, Mr. Smith’ she said.
I forced a half-smile.
‘Me too,’ I quipped.
Bates, the P.O., stood and said nothing-
Suddenly he began, ‘We’re really terribly. . .’
But his last words were lost to me
As I walked out into the open air.
I was free-and that’s what I hated most.
In ‘The Plumed Serpent’ D. H. Lawrence says,
‘There’s no such thing as liberty.
You just change one sort of domination for another.’
Well the domination of freedom is awful-
It scares me now that I’m free-
Hadyn J. Adams