The Simple Life: A Simple Lie

wringer washer not simple
Yes, I actually used a wringer washer. “Simple” does not mean “easy.”

Feb 28, 2018–I overheard some older folks talking fondly of “simpler times.”

Balderdash. There were no simpler times.

Never in history has life been so simple.



What was simple about tuning your car? You had to change the points and spark plugs, set the gaps with a gauge, replace the rotor, and adjust the timing with a strobe light while the fan blade was spinning at 2500 rpm six inches from your nose.

Now? A technician in a white coverall plugs your car into a computer that instantly analyzes your engine. Your job is to sit in the immaculate waiting room, sipping fresh-brewed gourmet coffee and using their wi-fi that’s faster than what you have at home.

Soon our cars will make the appointment and drive us to the service center.

(Speaking of coffee, which is easier: grinding beans, measuring into a metal basket, and boiling water in a percolator? Or sticking a plastic cup in a slot and pressing Brew?)


What was simple about getting a gun, making your own bullet, traipsing out on the prairie and hoping to bring down an antelope? Then you had to field dress it, haul it back to the log cabin, butcher it, grind it, stuff it, preserve it. All without power tools, refrigeration, or satellite radio.

Now? You go to the market. The meat is not only raised and harvested for you, it is skinned, portioned, seasoned, and has a pop up thermometer to tell you when it’s done.

Vegetables? We’ve all gardened. It’s a yearlong battle, starting with digging up crusty soil in the spring. With a spade and a hoe. Followed by five months of planting, weeding, watering, and squashing bugs. Under the sun, in the mud, every day.

Harvest time meant picking the vegetables at the right phase of the moon. Of course you always harvested more than any one family could consume, so that meant canning. I harbor non-gauzy memories of long hot days picking, hauling, shelling, slicing, coring, and peeling every variety of corn, peas, berries, and tomatoes. Simple, right?

Now we buy our veggies year round, already peeled, sliced, frozen, and ready to cook in microwave friendly bags.

We don’t even have to walk down store aisles anymore. Our local grocery emporium is installing pickup lanes. We can submit our shopping list online and by the time we drive to the store, our groceries are waiting curbside.

Too much effort for you? Order your food delivered to your door. In proper portions, with rotating menus, nutritionally balanced, and complete with cooking instructions.


Still too complicated for you? Let’s eat out!

Youngsters may find this hard to believe, but we used to have to actually get out of our cars and walk into the fast food restaurant to order and pick up our hamburgers and onion rings. Now all new eateries have multiple drive-through lanes with hardly any indoor counter space. We don’t even have to hand crank the window to place our order.


What was simple about writing a letter? Finding an envelope, getting the right address, buying a stamp. Actually writing with ink on paper. Or slamming keys on a mechanical typewriter? (Today that would count as a workout.) Then waiting a week to get a reply. Now? Pick an emoji and press Send.


I actually washed clothes with a wringer washer, then hung them on the line to dry. Now a computer determines how much water and how long. (Still waiting for a dryer that folds clothes… Elon?). Robots do our vacuuming.

I can go on and on. You can think of your own examples.

This is not an old man yelling at the sky. Just someone who lived in that “simple” past, and who remembers it as complicated.

The next time you hear someone talk about simpler times, know this: They’re simply lying.