Old joy

I recently went to TruValu looking for a manual aerator. Something to loosen up the soil for grass without the full-on assault of a fume-belching engine. Reasonable enough, right?

I was unprepared for the scorn I received. Such a thing hadn’t been manufactured since the 1970’s, I was told. Instead of helping me find what I wanted, Mr. TruValu really heaped it on, calling a friend to underscore how out of touch I was: “I got a guy here who wants to live in the 1800s…”

Sarah found one on the internet that day (it looks a like a crutch with two tubes that plug the soil).  Aside from debating the wisdom of hardware storemen, or the merits of manual aeration, why is there such a deep disrespect for technology that’s passed its prime? Of the 100 or so things I do in an average week, I’d say 95 are accomplished using devices three or more generations (about 10-20 years) behind state of the art. It’s not really about the aesthetic of the old for me. And it’s only a little about cheapness and retailphobia. Isn’t there any virtue left in working with what you have?

Like a mobile phone that excels at the two things you need it to do—and no more. Or a functional but junky bike that no one bothers to steal. Personally, I love the feel of non-technical fabrics against my skin, and look forward to moving an inert toothbrush back and forth under my own power.

If you stall long enough, the rewards are huge. Imagine the thrill of having decent 8 Tracks handy when suddenly all you’ve got to play music is an 8-track jukebox with pumping disco lights (true story). Good ole Craig has wrought a new techno-psychadelic style from the death throes of his ancient Canon Elph:


Sure, worship of obsolete formats can be taken too far. But a practical popular movement couldn’t arrive soon enough for me.

1 comment
  1. Marc said:

    ‘Old Joy’ was likely my favorite movie of 2006. Lost friendships, small disappointments, etc. — much a part of the tapestry of adulthood.

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