A case of attentional blindness

Over the weekend, Pam and I were at the supermarket buying some groceries. When it was our turn to pay at the counter, we were still quite engaged in conversation. When the cashier gave us the total bill, I handed over my credit card to her. In turn, she handed the credit card slip to Pam instead of to me. Pam absentmindedly signed the slip (and I absentmindedly let her; we were still talking :p). The mistake was eventually realized when the cashier handed back the card and our copy of the slip to Pam, and it was actually Pam who pointed it out.

What was odd though was that the cashier actually flipped my card over to see the back side and she did look at Pam’s signature on the slip. She went through the motions but failed to see that the signatures and even the names did not match.

Some lessons learned (yeah, over buying groceries):

  • It’s not only inattentional blindness that we should be wary of. Apparently, there’s also attentional blindness wherein we’re looking but we’re not seeing.
  • Just because the test steps were performed doesn’t mean the test’s objectives were met. Try to align what you do with your purpose.
  • Monotony dulls the senses. Once in a while, it might be a good idea to defocus then refocus. After all, fresh eyes find failure.
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