Who's In Charge Here, Anyway?


            You like to think the machines in your life work for you ... but it isn't so.   If anything, it's the other way around.


            For starters, take those smart-aleck cameras that think they’re above taking the picture you want, instead flashing icons for “Too Dark,”  “Too Light,” or “Too Ugly” at you.  If they're so smart, how come they always focus on the wallpaper behind my kids?


            Or consider my washer.  Oh sure, it has markings for Small, Medium, Large, and Extra-Large loads.  But just try asking it to wash an “Extra Large” batch of towels, and you’ll come back to find it with an innocent look on its face and 20 gallons of sudsy water on the floor.


            The worst part is that when your appliances start to go, they don't simply break.  Somehow, they sucker you into doing their job for them.


            At first, all you have to do is "be there."  I once had an office answering machine that wouldn't answer me, when I called it for messages.  I had to go in and watch it work perfectly, only to have it still refuse my calls once I got back home.    


            Or look at my toaster.  It needs what my therapist would call validation.  Instead of popping up when the toast is done, it simply clicks.  This is apparently to say that, "Your toast is done, if you feel like having it now, if you like it toasted about this much."  I'd prefer a toaster to be more assertive and pop up already, but what can you do?  So I lend a hand.


            Now we have crossed the line into physical action.  Soon, the toilet handle that needed jiggling becomes the one you must wrestle with every time you want it to stop… or start.  The TV that once responded to the touch of your hand now needs a “Whack!” to remind it to do color.  You have become a cog, essential to the smooth functioning of your machines. All that remains is the realization that you are working for them.  In fact, you have been for years.


            So, you might ask, why not just replace these uppity gadgets? 


            For one thing, you might get hurt.  When I finally got a new vacuum cleaner, I pressed the cord rewind and bent over to start helping the cord in, like always… and almost got whipped in the face.   The phone in my kitchen was even worse.  Its cord was always so tangled that whenever I picked it up, it fought back.  So I gave in and bought a new, cordless unit.  The next time someone called, I snatched it up and all they heard was a "YOUCH! ... Thud!" as I smacked myself in the head.


            I’d like to get rid of all the machines, and show them who’s boss... but who am I kidding?  I only work here.