Let me tell you (ahem) about my friend’s toilet. You see, they’re renovating their bathroom and they have ordered a new toilet. Did you know that when you order a toilet you most often have to order the seat separately? Yes, a brand-new toilet and the seat is not included. This is perhaps something someone should tell you when you order toilets. It should be simple. But, like so many simple things, it’s not. This idea — simple — is actually quite complicated.
I’ve come to fear all things that claim to be simple, like furniture that requires a few simple steps of assembly before use. “Simple” if they included all the right parts and the instructions weren’t in Spanish, Chinese or any other language that I can’t read. While I’d love to learn these languages, right now I’m just trying to assemble some furniture.
I’m also skeptical of convenient things, like cell phones. When you really need to make a call, you are conveniently out of the service area. Or perhaps like a friend of mine, you find yourself in a cell phone crisis because you’ve lost your phone and all contact with the outside world! You will soon have to resort to SOS or a tin can-rope contraption for communication. The convenience cell phones has resulted in a friend of mine not committing to memory the telephone numbers of her loved ones (or anyone, actually). Instead, she conveniently calls the two people whose numbers she remembers and requests the numbers for other contacts she needs. I’ll be sure to have my cell phone on so I can help her out. I know how I’d feel without my phone.
Don’t tell her I told you, but in one of the cupboards in my mom’s kitchen, you’ll find a graveyard of Tupperware and plastics. They were bought to keep things like leftovers or lunches simply and easily stored. Finding the matching lid to the respective bowl however, is anything but simple or easy. So this Christmas, a relative bought her a revolving canister to organize all of the bowls and lids. Of course, then my mother had no room in her cupboard, so she had to spend an hour making room for these modern conveniences. I think of her as I search for a lid in my own cupboard.
That’s the catch with simple and convenient. They sell the illusion that we have room for more things. Soon, our simple lifestyle is rather cluttered, crammed with all the conveniences we can muster. We multitask, but will we get anything done? I’m optimistic that we will see a return to simplicity, and not the mass-marketed simplicity of cell phones and Tupperware. But, maybe in our lifetime, we’ll pick up the phone and have a real live person on the other end to answer our questions. They’ll be able to tell us that we have ordered a toilet without a seat and ask us if we’d like one. We’ll be able to call convenience’s bluff. We won’t clutter up our lives just because we’ve made room.
Until then, push one if you agree or please hold the line if you disagree. An operator will be with you shortly. After all, your call is important to us.