Our grandparents managed quite well without dozens of little keypads and maybe we should try to do the same.
The more complicated and technical our lives become, the more chances there are that something will break.
I seem to have arrived at a stage of my life when everything around me is breaking.
First, the automatic garage door jammed and locked itself in the half-open, half-shut position.
Whenever I wanted to use my car I had to use one hand on the remote button and the other hand hauling the door handle. Instead of a slick one-thumb operation, opening the door had become a complex two-handed juggling act.
Next the TV, with its fancy multichannel dish antenna, went on strike and showed only a “no signal” message, no matter which buttons I pressed (and, believe me, I pressed them all many times!)
Next to go was the front gate lock, which is operated by a button on the lounge window sill. Now the gate locked itself and stayed locked until I tottered all the way out and opened it manually with a key.
I won’t bore you with other stuff that’s gone on strike (or maybe bitten by the Covid bug) but I noticed that everything that broke was electrically operated and I had never experienced any problems with any of them while in their old-fashioned, manual mode. Doors and gates opened to the twist of a key.
Radios and TV sets had simple knobs and buttons to turn on the power and select the channel.
Admittedly, you had to be next to the device to make it work, but that’s the natural way the world operates.
If you want to mow a lawn or catch a fish you go out there and push the mower or cast the line.
You don’t sit in your armchair and press buttons.
Maybe it’s time to get back to simple basics. Our grandparents managed quite well without dozens of little keypads and maybe we should try to do the same. On the other hand, maybe all the breakages are part of life’s grand plan. In this time of widespread unemployment, every job is valuable.
When Granddad wanted a garden gate he employed a carpenter to make and fit one. Now I need a carpenter to make the gate, an electrician to connect it to the keypad and a technician on call to fix it when it goes wrong.
My old radio used to have a connection to the power point and another to the antenna.
Now I need a fancy dish antenna connected to a mysterious black box which, in turn, is linked to a transformer and connected electronically to the keypad, which is what went wrong in the first place.
It takes an army of technicians standing by just so I can learn the latest number of new cases of Covid-19 there have been and the latest number of politicians arrested for fraud and corruption. Sometimes the scores are pretty close.
Fred was a hopeless handyman.
Whenever he tried to fix something he broke it.
Eventually, his friend, George, said: “The best thing you can do it shut your tool shed and nail the door closed permanently.”
Two hours later Fred phoned and said: “I took your advice and nailed the tool shed shut. Now I don’t know where to store the hammer.”
* “Tavern of the Seas” is a daily column written in the Cape Argus by David Biggs. Biggs can be contacted at [email protected]
** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.