Thursday, October 20, 2022

Willful Ignorance #T

Be not the first by whom the new are tried,

Nor yet the last to lay the old aside. --Alexander Pope

Granddad was born in 1878. He was expert with horses and mules. He rode them, worked them, doctored them, and in general could not live his life without them. Most of his immediate neighbors could say the same of themselves. Except the doctoring. Grandpa was the de facto veterinarian in his community, and even treated humankind on occasion, especially if it involved extracting teeth or setting bones. He never saw the inside of a university or college, nor even inside a schoolhouse after he finished eighth grade. But he knew animals and he knew how to treat illnesses and wounds, how to deliver the young when something went squirrely in the birthing process. He was an indispensable fixture in the community.
Somewhere around the turn of the century a new-fangled machine began to turn up in the environs where he lived. By 1910 some of the neighbors had automobiles, and by 1925 most of them did, as well as *gasp* tractors. Well, I never! And I won’t, said Grandpa. These creatures are an abomination, and if the Good Lord had intended for mankind to use such gadgetry, he would have given Adam an automobile. Truth be told, he was afraid to learn to use new technology, and thus, though he lived through the first half of the twentieth century, he never owned a car. Or a tractor. Willful ignorance.
Dad was born in 1910. He was forward looking, and by the time he was sixteen, notwithstanding he could ride as well as anyone, and he could plow a straight furrow with a team, he was already dabbling with gas-powered machinery. He had a “souped-up” Model T, and he souped her himself. Father was a mechanical whiz. He could repair most any mechanical device with pliers, screwdrivers, and haywire. He carried these skills into manhood, honed them, and provided services to his friends over the years. But his career went in another direction, and as a minister of the Gospel, writing became an essential skill. To enable himself to increase his output and reduce the effort, he learned to type and had a little Royal portable typewriter which went with him wherever he worked. Somewhere along in the ‘70s some one of his children thought it would improve Dad’s ability to churn out the work and simultaneously reduce the required effort if he had an electric typewriter, a new-fangled gadget that was being made available even to the home typist. So, one of those appeared on his desk. To his credit, I think, he did plug it in and give it a whirl, but it was not long before the Royal was back on his desk. Too hard to control, wants to do its own thing, and other such mutterings. Willful ignorance.
I was born in 1934. I was never any good with horses or mules; was never around them. When I had mechanical issues with any of my rolling stock, I relied on Dad or a nearby mechanic. No talent with tools. But I loved to read, and logically it followed that I wanted to write. So, I learned to type and acquired the proper machinery. Somewhere around the turn of the century, a different century than the one referred to earlier, home computers were becoming the thing. I succumbed. And wonder of wonders, I found that a computer made my writing easier, and I enjoyed using the thing. But sneakily something happened for which I was not prepared. More and more of life’s daily routines were being co-opted by computers and a thing called “the internet.” Now I find that I cannot even make an address change with a company with whom I do business unless I “log into” their website. There’s a thought. I’d like to throw a log into some websites. I digress. It makes me angry, and I am not kidding. Nobody talks to anyone anymore, and companies certainly do not hire people to open, read, and respond to letters, things which used to work wonderfully well for us all. And what makes “them” think everyone has access to a computer? Well, if you don’t, just get off the planet and get out of the way. I do not want to learn to navigate the complexities of the websites of every business or governmental entity with whom I do business. Willful ignorance? 
Perhaps, but believe me, I have a much better appreciation for Grandpa, and for Dad. Troglodyte? Not at all. But maybe, just maybe, the Luddites were on to something.

David W. Lacy word count 776