Good Morning Steve Jobs Wherever You Are,
In this world of gadgetry and slick electronics designed to streamline one’s life it’s hard to imagine a world without this magic. I remember vividly pounding out 50 words per minute on an old Underwood typewriter. Remember ‘White Out?’ It made typing much easier with a clean copy free of strikethroughs and marveled at such a simple idea. None of my children would recognize a typewriter. Curmudgeons in general try to keep up with the latest technology and swell with pride when we figure out how to use an ‘Ap’ on our ‘Smart Phones.’ But most are like me; flashing 12:00s on all appliances, universal remote controls dumbfound us, phones that double as a camera, and MP3 players that can hold more songs than all of us know combined tend to escape the curmudgeonus ones. Give us something we can wrap our collective arms around, you know, something like a truck or car, now there’s something we can handle!
I had the great opportunity to travel to New Iberia, LA (home of Tabasco Sauce) on business and was accompanied by my camera man Vinny. For the two or three of you reading this flounce Vinny is the official videographer of the ‘Diatribe.’ He is also the holder of a company Visa card therefore responsible for our travel expenses; in particular hotels and rental cars. Getting off the plane in Baton Rouge we were immediately taken in by the 75 degree humidity free air. I felt rejuvenated as I stuffed my leather jacket into my bag and rolled up my sleeves. The ‘mountain folk’ were basking in 35 degree bluster. While I watched for our equipment cases to arrive, Vinny walked to the Hertz counter and selected a cute little Mazda that had an electronically controlled 4-speed auto/manual transmission with slope control. However, this wonderful feature came as a surprise to our Vincent.
Vinny is all business behind the wheel and generally drives 10 to 20 mph slower than the irritated traffic flow. He managed to find reverse and we at last were on our way! Unfortunately when he gave it some gas he redlined the engine but could only manage 4 mph. Lurching forward then stopping then forward, and then stopping etc… Vinny began to panic and I began to laugh hysterically. Like a mad man he slapped, clicked, pulled, pressed, and violently shook the stick until accidentally he found the proper slot and we were free of low gear. It reminded me of the day I taught my daughter to drive using a manual transmission and clutch, our little Honda was never the same. It took me a bit to regain my composure.
Earlier in the week I got an I-Phone 4 and proved I also was not immune to a technology meltdown. My alarm sounded reminding me to call a local Pizza place to arrange for delivery to those attending our sales presentation. I had written all the information necessary on the reminder but soon discovered I lacked the technical ability to multi-task. The least little breath on an icon will cause the screen to change losing what I had so frustratingly found. Trying to use my I-phone was bad enough, but when you combine that with the depth of stupidity of those I was trying to order from staggers the mind, and after the 8th attempt I lost it. I grabbed the phone as if it was the moron at the other end and choked it shaking it back and forth screaming a line of profanity at the illiterate footle on the other end. While it accomplished nothing, I felt much better.
Yes technology is a good thing overall, but I contend it’s a double edged sword. As Vincent as well as I demonstrated, we can embrace new technology, but only after a humiliating display of incompetence.