If it Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It

So, my brother-in-law generously gave me his old lawnmower so that I, new homeowner, could reduce the jungle growing up around my house before the Na’vi took up residence and started all their environmental nonsense. Anyway, the mower was hard to start – I think that Briggs & Stratton build engines specifically designed to frustrate me – and it took me a while fiddling with it before I could get it to go. One of the things I did was fill it up with gas. This necessitated me purchasing a new gas can, and here our story begins.

This device needs no improvement.

You know what drives me nuts? No, don’t guess – let me just tell you: when people create ‘improvements’ to things that DO NOT NEED IMPROVEMENT. Case in point, this gas can, like all gas cans since gas cans were a thing, has a little spigot/nozzle/tube thing that comes out the end so that you can easily pour gasoline from the can into whatever device you’re looking to fuel.  Those little things are not only useful, but ridiculously simple, cheap, elegant, and almost completely foolproof.

My new gas can didn’t have one. It had a ‘new improved’ version with a safety lock on it and some mechanism wherein you had to push down on the nozzle to make the gas come out. This thing, of course, promptly either broke or was so byzantine in its function that I found myself completely unable to get it to work. Gas was spilling everywhere. I shook my fists at the heavens and at whatever moron decided this doohickey was somehow essential to the operation of my little 1-gallon gas can.

Seriously, under what circumstances is something like that needed? Am I filling my lawnmower on the pitching, heaving deck of ship that is currently on fire and, therefore, should one *single* drop of gasoline go awry, the entire place would explode? Do they expect me to need this gas can in some apocalyptic wasteland where every single cubic centimeter of fuel is such a precious commodity that I need redundant systems to prevent any loss whatsoever? Do the regular purchasers of this gas can have a kind of palsy that makes them shake and tremble so that conventional spigots are ineffectual. I mean WHAT THE HELL, GUYS?

This stupid spigot is indicative of what we’re doing with technological advancement today. We are wasting our intelligence and effort on pointless gadgets rather than trying to solve something important, like the energy crisis, the population bomb, hunger, disease, space travel, etc., etc.. Take the almighty iPhone, for instance. I don’t have one. I don’t have one because (a) they are expensive and (b) I already have a phone that works just fine. Yes, I cannot use my phone to take quality photographs or e-mail people or play games or check Facebook, but I don’t need to do that. At all. It might be fun, but it’s also frivolous and silly. I’m pretty much the only person on the train who observes his surroundings anymore. I could pick everybody’s pocket in there, if I wanted, and escape without notice, because everybody’s powers of perception are wholly poured into a tiny little rectangle of light held in the palms of their hands. Why? Because they can’t stand the thought of not being entertained for fifteen goddamned minutes. We can’t get ourselves off relying on fossil fuels, but we can watch reruns of Futurama any freaking time we please.

Priorities, people.

This is the beginning of the end, I tell you.

There’s a lot of other garbage like this in our modern world, from those little GPS computers that tell you where you are and where you’re going (when a decent map or even MapQuest would suffice) to the asinine contents of every single SkyMall catalog to those stupid cars that can parallel park themselves (what, can’t you, I don’t know, LEARN?). We’ve become a people so paranoid of boredom and discomfort that we’ve decided to outsource our brains to some engineer somewhere who thinks she can make a gadget that does it better.

I wound up pouring gas into my lawnmower engine with no spigot at all. Like a goddamned savage.

About aahabershaw

Writer, teacher, gaming enthusiast, and storyteller. I write stories, novels, and occasional rants.

Posted on May 7, 2012, in Critiques, Theories, and Random Thoughts and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Old Man Habershaw, he’s old and bitter and frail! (Well, not so much the last one, but it’s part of the ditty. 😉 )

  2. There’s a lot to say about technology, and it’s negative effects. You may not wish to hear this, but there’s no stopping it. Technology and invention will march on. All we can do is push back where we can. Simplify our lives and do things using older, simpler technologies. I like your last words: like a savage. Well, it’s not far from the true solution. Going back to nature and living without technology is one possible way to handle things. But can you do it all the time? It’s an interesting question.

    • Oh, it’s definitely unstoppable. There are many times it pisses me off, is all. Also, technology brings as much good as it does bad. The thing is, all of our advancements lately (to my mind) haven’t been so much big leaps forward as minor sidesteps/measly ephemeral improvements.

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