Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Too Much Time, So Little Patience

Hello, all!

     Okay, so it may just be one these days.  Hi, mom.  Do I need to apologize for taking so long to write a new post, again?  I certainly hope not, because I've grown tired of doing that.  So instead, are you happy to see a new post finally?  Good.  The last few months were interesting.  Well, interesting to me that is.  I got to travel again!  All those years of bitching about not getting a proper road trip are over!  For now, anyway.  I had a job as an over-the-road driver, for an expedited shipping company, as a van driver (a.k.a. a non CDL holding driver).  I got to see some more of the country.  By see, I mostly mean I got to see the moon and the stars, and the occasional head/tail lights of the few other motorists in the middle of the night.  As well as a lot of gas stations, truck stops, and rest areas.  It was not a cushy job, by any stretch, but it got me on the road again, so that took care of some of my need to bitch.  However, I do still have a couple of things I can complain about, but I'm going to try to focus on only one of them today.  So, after much anticipation (by whom, I'm not sure), here goes.

     Remember being young, and having some life morals drilled into your head?  Or, alternatively, you are still young, and you will find this to be news to you.  There were adages, like idle hands are the devil's tools, many hands makes for light work, if you keep making that face it'll get stuck like that, etc...  Well the one that stuck with me, and one that I learned at a very young age, is the rarely used, and never followed anymore, patience is a virtue.  That may not be the oldest of them, but whoever first uttered that, plainly did not have visions of the future.  Which is unfortunate for them, but I for one, still see relevance in those words.  Patience is a virtue, and a long lost art, but so decidedly needed today.  Decided by me, that is.

     I'm not going to go out on a limb and say that people used to all have patience a few hundred, or a few thousand years ago.  If I did, I'd be lying.  Plainly a phrase including patience and virtue together, was come up with in a vain attempt to get somebody like kids, or adults alike, to settle the bleep down.  Did it work?  Doubtful.  Does it hold merit?  I think so.  It's impossible not to get all riled up when expecting something, or while wanting something to happen a lot sooner than later.  That is normal.  What really gets me, is a societal shift to what I will call the NOW NOW NOW phenomenon.  I could jump right to smart phones, and be done with it.  But I won't, because it started a long time ago, well before I was born.

     Introducing the steam train (in America), circa 1829, in New England, which provides the precursor to modern day train travel in America.  Boring, yes, for some.  But nevertheless the beginning of the end for public patience, although affordable train travel will not exist for another 130 years or so, and only the elite (those we now call the 1%) could afford this not so glamorous mode of transportation yet.  While the tracks are being laid to connect east to west, other engines are being built, and we eventually get the motor carriage (a.k.a., your car).  Though still too expensive for the other 99%, that will change as well.  This is yet another nail in the coffin for that little thing, patience.

     Next up, calculators.  That's right, calculators.  Nobody has to learn basic arithmetic anymore.  When was the last time you had to call up a mental image of the multiplication table, or physically write out long division?  Let me guess, it's been so long you can't remember?  Yeah, me either.  Well, actually I do, but for this purpose, I'm opting for selective memory.

      Remember your first pc?  No, not that mostly useless thing called political correctness, but the personal computer.  It was most likely a word processor, as the internet had not been introduced to the public quite yet.  This is only important to this rant, because the word processor did eventually lead to the machine I'm using to write these words on.  More importantly, do you remember one of the few programs that came standard on most word processors?  I'll give you a minute to think......that's right!  A calculator!  Still found on every single operating system, cell phone, smart phone, and even most GPS' today.  Hell, the calculator was even made into digital watches for a while there.  No wonder America is so bad at math in general.

     Next up came pocket pagers.  If you thought I was going to say cell phones, you thought wrong, but you're not too far off.  Pagers were great, and a curse, for doctors and nurses.  But did the general public need them?  Probably not.  This is when I really started to notice the world around me changing.  I can remember a time when I actually had to walk, or bike, through entire towns, to see if somebody was around.  Phone lines weren't always available.  Yes, phone lines, that ran to a telephone, which was connected to a wall, and had a cord.   Yes, a cord.  No hands free crap back then.  But with a pager, you knew exactly when somebody was trying to get a hold of you, or you them.  That was great!  Or something.

     Which leads me to cell phones.  I'm going to skip that awkward cell phone age, and skip right to standard cell phones, before "apps" were even an option.  Now everybody had the ability to reach out and call somebody, at any time of day, anywhere you were (assuming you weren't in the middle of a desert, or the middle of a mountain range, or in your basement), all year round.  One can make an argument for the benefit of cell phones, and I probably won't dispute it.  But I saw a problem back when we still used home phones.  For example, hanging out with my friend, when the phone rang.  It was the neighbor, asking for my friends little sister.  The conversation went something like this;  "Hey"  "Hey"  "Do you want to play?"  "Okay."  Then ten seconds later the doorbell rang, and it was the neighbor.  Yup, 13 yards away from door to door, and a phone was used.  13 yards!!!  What the hell?

      Next up, and quite possibly the final nail in that virtue's coffin.  The internet.  A double edged sword, the internet.  Great for looking up directions, or buying concert tickets, or downloading music.  But also a great way to provide instant gratification, and create a future generation of couch potatoes.  You can do everything on a computer nowadays.  Hell, most cell phones double as computers.  When was the last time you went to a school, and found a library that had actual books in it?  Or the last time you had to trundle down to the nearest shop to buy a map?  Or stand in line with a bunch of strangers to buy concert tickets?  Or even talk with a person face to face?  Face time to me, is actually sitting down with a person, in the flesh, and talking.  Not sitting in front of a computer with some camera, staring at a monitor.  Along with the internet, as we know it today, came social networking.  Okay, so I am guilty of being a member of one site, which I lovingly abbreviate FB.  But here's the thing.  With the current exception of one person, I actually know the friends I have.  The ones I talk to are the ones that I can't drive across town to have some face time with.  Or the ones that live across an ocean, where I really can't drive.  I don't get the people who "friend horde", the people who just friend anybody and everybody, as though that will somehow help them.  And with the advent of chat rooms, I've noticed another thing I'd never have known otherwise.  People are terrible spellers!  I can recognize the occasional typo, but the lack of grammar, and failed use of punctuation really gets to me. 

     What I am trying to get at here, is simple.  Everybody seems incapable of exhibiting patience.  It's the end of the world if a cell phone dies, or your car is in the shop, or the internet is down!  AAAAHHHH!!!!  What will we ever do???!!!  Wait, hold on, I think I remember.  Go for a walk, or grab a book, take your dog for a walk, relax.  Deep breathes...  There is no real need to rush around all the time.  All that does is take heartbeats off your life.  Slow down once in a while.  The highway is not a racetrack, stop signs really mean stop, speed limits are in place for a reason (although sometimes I'm really not sure for what purpose), and the sky is not falling.  The end of the world is not nigh.  Humans got along just fine for many thousands of years before the notion of a satellite signal was even dreamed up.  We can get along fine just now too.

     Okay, that's my rant.  I'll stop now.  As per usual, I hope everybody is doing well.  Don't forget to have some good eats, spend time with friends, enjoy a laugh or two, have your choice of beverage, and dammit, smile once in a while, at a random stranger.  Until next time, peace out y'all!