Sunday, October 23, 2011

Note to self . . . There Are Vans That Don't Have Automatic Doors

This afternoon I picked up my daughter and her friend Gabby at the local mall. When I dropped Gabby off at her house she got out of the van and said goodbye. Then she pulled the handle on the door and began to walk away.

But the door didn't close.

I drive a lot of kids around these days and most of them make the same mistake with our doors. It turns out we have a 12 year old van with standard doors. Most kids today are used to automatic doors.

You could say it's time for me to trade-in my van after 182,000 miles but I think we'll keep it for a few more years. Maybe I should put a sign on the door to remind kids that they need to pull on the door to close it . . .

About a year or two ago I started wondering about who was it that invented the automatic door. Why is it such a great idea? Sure busses have them but do we need them in our personal cars?

Then I thought about Thor's Wheels. This is a B.C. comic from the 1980s. Thor, who makes one wheeled vehicles, is asked if he'd ever considered a multi-wheeled vehicle. His reply shows that either he can't imagine a different type of vehicle ever becoming useful. Or, he's completely satisfied with a one wheeled vehicle.

This is the trouble with technology. We get used to it and can't imagine the need for anything else. And, we hardly have the time to go out and find something new and learn how to use it. Then someone like Steve Jobs comes up with an idea for a new technology, creates an "insanely great" product out of it, and we all want to have it and can't wait to get it.

But is that enough of a reason to go out and get it? What are we doing with the old technology we leave behind? Are we making sure it's donated to someone who will reuse it or perhaps taking it to a recycle center? Or, is it headed for a dusty spot in a back closet or the garage, or perhaps even the garbage heap?

The scariest part of this story for me is what we are teaching ourselves and our younger generations. Most of my daughters friends are very sweet and I'm sure they don't judge me harshly for having to manually close the doors in my van. But they do react in a strange way the very first time they have to close the door of my van. It's as if they just had to learn something new.

I can hear their internal brain talking to them at that very moment: "Note to self . . . there are vans that don't have automatic doors. Back in the old days you had to close them manually using your physical strength."

I think I'll keep my van for a few more years. I just hope my daughter's friends don't think I'm some grouchy old man barking at them to close the door properly.

When I do get another vehicle it will probably not be a van. By then I hope to be done with this taxi cab driving lifestyle and I can get something smaller and more sustainable. It won't have automatic doors. Or will it? It probably won't have a key and a number of other "features" I can't even imagine. It might actually drive itself.

Sometimes I feel just like Thor. Sometimes I feel so "last week."