Examples of Progress Gone Wrong are All Around Us

I’m not one to fight progress.

I would have led the charge to embrace advances like air conditioning, anti-perspirant and the remote control.

But, sometimes, I don’t understand why things evolve the way they do.

When I was a kid, the lawn mower had a lever to adjust the engine speed. It had an F for fast and an S for slow. It wasn’t that hard to understand. We had two or three mowers during my childhood, and to the best of my knowledge, the F and S system worked perfectly.

I first Knew trouble was afoot when they started putting little pictures of a rabbit and a turtle where the F and S used to be. I found it insulting that knowing the plot from The Tortoise and the Hare was a prerequisite to mowing the yard.

It only got worse from there.

My current mower doesn’t even have a throttle adjustment. Through my online research, I found out it is called a “fixed speed” engine. How’s that for progress?

I simply wasn’t satisfied with that answer. I knew I had to be missing something, so just a few days ago I called the dealer and talked to a mechanic, and he let me in on an industry secret. This engine has a little thumbnail-sized metal tab between the spark plug and the air filter. (You’re welcome.)

In order to change the engine speed, you have to pry it forward with a screwdriver. “Bend it a little, but not too much,” the mechanic said.

Dear bunny and turtle: I apologize. Come back.

How in the world would I know how much to bend it? In order to get to it, I have to let go of the handle, which kills the engine — which is another improvement I wouldn’t care to see go the way of New Coke.

When this onerous spring-loaded kill switch first came out, I took an old shoestring and tied the bar to the handle in the same rebellious spirit people displayed when they would fasten their seatbelts behind them in order to silence their car’s buzzer.

I have lots of other examples around my house of progress gone awry.

Some microwaves nowadays only allow heating in 30-second increments. Lots of things don’t need heating for 30 seconds. When that is the case, we have to open the door while the thing is running and feel the warmth of the radiation escaping into the kitchen.

These models should come with one of those lead aprons the dentist gives you when they X-ray your mouth.

Our coffee maker has a button called “aroma.” Sometimes I push it, and sometimes I don’t. It’s a little game I play. The coffee smells the same regardless. I could see this button coming in handy on the TV when one of those food shows is on, but on the coffee maker, it seems to be progress we could’ve lived without.

I bought a battery charger the other day, and spent 45 minutes trying to figure out if the battery on my truck was a standard battery or an ADM battery, and whether I needed to do a normal charge or something called a deep-cycle charge.

I just need a button that says “2002 Dodge truck.”

Our car is even worse. Yes, it is a hybrid, so I don’t expect to know how it works. But still, I can barely check the oil. And if it ever needed any, I would have no idea where to put it because I can’t find the oil fill cap.

I haven’t spent too much time looking. If it was bone dry, I wouldn’t know which kind of oil to buy.

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