There are times when I could easily prefer living in the Bronze Age. The Stone Age even. Both were more ignorant times, to be sure, but also considerably less complicated.
Before you say, “Well, don’t you already live there in your head?” consider the fact that you’re still alive as proof that I don’t. Brutal villainy and a general lack of concern for human life was considered a job skill back then.
My fault with the modern age — aside from the fact that social media has proved that the human subconscious hasn’t progressed much beyond witch burning and lynch mobs — is that we have become slaves to our machines.
I am by no means a Luddite, a term originating during the early 19th century when English textile workers went around destroying machinery in mills because they believed such modernization threatened their livelihoods.
Eventually, sufficient Luddites were shot or jailed so that the movement died out. But the problems with machinery were just getting revved up.
Machines have made life much easier in many ways. Building the pyramids would have been much easier with mechanized forklifts instead of the human ones, who tended to wear out rather quickly.
Today, no one in his right mind would submit to a liver transplant performed with just a sharp stick. And who would dare get on an airplane in which the flight controls consisted of a complicated rock?
This doesn’t mean machines are our salvation. Most people today do not understand the machinery they operate, only that it makes the task at hand easier to accomplish — laundry, accounting, traveling, planning, cooking, etc.
But when things stop working, the operator has to find someone else to fix the machine. Unlike indentured servants and other beasts of burden, you can’t threaten them into performing better or even at all.
Well, some people can. But these people are also wizards. For example, Sonny can fix anything. Up to the point when I passed out, I watched him help put my shoulder back in its socket. I’ve seen him fix lawn mowers, motorcycles and guns.
Once, while stuck in the middle of the desert because his truck wouldn’t start, I sat down and began writing my last will and testament in the dirt. Mechanical stuff is beyond me. I knew we were going to die of thirst.
Not Sonny. He opened the hood of the truck, bashed on it with what he called a “fix-it brick.” He swore, climbed onto the top of the engine and jumped up and down until it looked like the motor had been rebuilt with a grenade.
After yanking out several parts and flinging them into the sagebrush, he used a small screwdriver to carefully turn something in the mystery jumble of parts.
“Let’s go,” he said. The truck started right up.
I am not lying. I’ve seen him do this exact same thing at least a dozen times since, including once on a cow. It always works.
This morning, my computer came down with some kind of Windows 10 virus. Nothing works and nothing is where it used to be. The problem is beyond my skill set. Hell, I had to write this column by hand.
I’ll tinker with it some more. If my computer doesn’t start soon, I’ll have to borrow Sonny’s fix-it brick. Then it’s back to the Stone Age.
Robert Kirby is The Salt Lake Tribune’s humor columnist. Follow Kirby on Facebook.