living in an idiot proof world

My missus picked up a new can opener at Wally World yesterday. The thing claims to be ‘Idiot Proof’. Thing is, I couldn’t get it to work. Does that mean that I am an idiot?

In this world of ‘making things easier’, I think we have gone too technical. A can opener; why does it have to be so difficult? Instead of using the $15 piece of plastic garbage, I hauled out my old faithful pocket knife and using the trusty can opener blade, I opened my can of beans and wieners with ease. No batteries, no blister packing that cuts your fingers. Idiot proof.

Back in my grandfather’s day, there were no idiot proof crap things. Everything worked because it was made to work. Actually, my grandfather made most things himself, and if they didn’t work right, he started from scratch and worked at it until it did work. Idiot Proof.

I remember walking up to the fence he built to keep his cattle from leaving the cow pasture. He had this giant gate made from spruce boards that he sawed on a sawmill that he made himself. The gate fastened to the fence by a piece of rope that he hung over the top post on the gate and the fence. Simple, but it worked. The cows couldn’t figure it out, and that was all he worried about. Idiot Proof.

The sawmill itself was his creation as well. Powered by an old Austin motor, the mill, although small, was used to cut every board that he used to build the barn, the shed, and even his home. A blade that he picked up at a scrap yard in a neighboring city ran by a belt that was hooked to the little four-cylinder motor was not complex but it worked. Idiot proof.

He had a truck, but he didn’t really need one. The old Ford worked most of the time, and when it didn’t, he tackled his horse ‘Bess’ to a cart and used this method to haul hay and other farm essentials from one side of the pasture to the other. He even rode into town on horse and buggy from time to time. A handful of hay and drink of water for the horse.  Idiot Proof.

The tools he used to cut hay were also simple. Although my uncle bought my grandfather a John Deere tractor to cut the hay, my grandfather preferred to do it the old way. A Hand- scythe, which is actually a long blade scythe attached to a spruce handle that he made himself managed to work just right for my grandfather. I remember seeing him out in his fields at five in the morning, swinging the long handled scythe to and fro, hay falling behind him.

He did try the tractor, and at first he was amazed at how quickly the thing managed to cut his grass; but when the thing ran out of gas, he jumped off the tractor, and with his trusty scythe, he continued cutting the hay. The tractor sat in the field until he felt it was in the way. Then using his horse, he towed the tractor to the barn where it sat until the day he died. “don’t like those new fangled things that try to make things easier. Sometimes things are best left to the old way. A way that allowed a man to be one with the grass he cuts and the animals he feeds”

My grandfather was stubborn, but what he said makes a lot of sense, especially in this idiot proof world in which we live.

 

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3 thoughts on “living in an idiot proof world

  1. Very nice post… Reminds me of home on the farm when things were much simpler. We seem to want more gadgets with more working parts (that tend to break) to help make our lives easier. We will never learn. Nice tribute to your grandfather and what we term as “progress.”

    Oh, I hear there was a birthday? 😉 Happy belated birthday.

  2. The son was going to buy a nice, reliable, windup, pocket watch, but the nephew beat him to it with a birthday present. Too much modern crap. The old ways are often still the best ways. (Except for computers for Flash Fictions – when they work.) 😦

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