I miss my VCR re-winder

Do people still abuse copy machines? Taking liberties with that “privilege” was always a big deal in the office building where my mom worked when I was a kid.

I’d stop there every day after school on my way home, and sometimes for a laugh the copy room manager and me would press our ... faces ... against the scanner and pass around a few dozen copies with funny messages like “How about some ham with your eggs?”

People always got a kick out of that. Me most of all. Partly because I was 10 and went to Catholic school and until then was afraid to think unholy thoughts because I was certain nuns could read and control my mind. But mostly because there was something exciting, ingenious and unexplainably innocent about being able to give someone the finger on a piece of paper without actually flipping them the bird.

Technology changed my life.

So much so that I haven’t caught up to the new stuff we’ve invented. I’m still floored by the idea that people’s voices can travel instantly across time and space in tiny wires.

“This is melting my brain, man!” I tell my brother in my best Dennis Hopper voice whenever he calls from Oregon – 3,000 miles away and 3 hours in the past – yet he sounds like he’s talking to me from inside my head. “We’ve clearly reached the pinnacle of human intelligence, man! There’s nowhere to go from here but down now, man!”

As far as I’m concerned, we did stop at telephones. Current gadgets like Google Earth (Wow! My house looks cooler when the view is from Heaven) or Nintendo Wii (Hurray! Fake bowling from home is no longer considered a symptom of depression) are light years beyond me. I still haven’t gotten over the VCR re-winder. Often referred to as technology’s Andy Gibb, with so much promise and purpose, it left this world too soon. The same goes for laser discs, mini discs and Ford Pintos – all candles in the wind.

As sad as being stuck on crappy inventions of the 1980s is, I don’t see any reason to get with the times. Honestly, what am I missing? Video game systems that will let me play virtual Ping-Pong instead of using the real table I already have in the garage? Vacuum cleaners that’ll vacuum by themselves and not pipe down when I say I’m trying to watch a good television show? Cars that park themselves – are you kidding? I’d like to see my car tell me or any self-respecting resident of Plymouth we can’t back it into any place we want anyway we like anytime we please.

I thought technology was supposed to allow us to do things we couldn’t do before, like fly, travel to the moon, give people new hearts and talk to people on the phone? Why should our greatest researchers and developers waste time and energy re-discovering the frontiers we’ve already settled?

Because like humming birds and their sweet red juice, we love the taste of lazy.

Plus we’re numb to mind-blowing feats of technology. Tired of moonwalks and Jarvik hearts. We’ve seen all that before. In fact, I bet if you asked most people if they were impressed by the U.S. military recently shooting down a satellite traveling at 6,000 mph, 200 miles above the earth, they’d say something like, “No. But I was astounded that I was able to download a copy of ‘Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull’ off the Internet before it was out in theaters.”

Guess that answers my question. Why would anyone abuse a copy machines when they can abuse a DVD burner?

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