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McCoy: The Trouble with Machines
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As a kid, I was a sucker for machines. I couldn’t pass a gumball rack without turning all the handles; I took apart my toys just to get at the electric motors; and I was simply mad for anything with batteries, gears or knobs. I would have given away all my Superman comic books for a robot, even if it was missing a dozen transistors. Well, times have changed, and now I’m surrounded by more machines than I ever wanted. And I’d give them all away, if I could. The machines have taken over my life, and I don’t like the way they’re running things.

Do you know that I have an electric razor that tells me when it wants to be cleaned? When my razor announces that it’s dirty, I have to sit it in its own little birdbath of minty flavored alcohol and let it buzz around like a five-year-old in a bathtub. I blame all this insanity on the self-cleaning ovens that started showing up in the ‘70s. Once you have one appliance with a cleanliness fixation, the rest just naturally follow suit.

And it’s not just the machines in my house that are aggravating me. I called an insurance company today, and while listening to the phone prompts, I coughed. Their computer system mistook my cough for a voice request and told me that it didn’t quite understand what I wanted. I’m lucky it didn’t say, “We’re sorry you want to cancel all your insurance policies. Please come back to us before something burns down.” When I was a child, you didn’t have to worry about coughing and accidentally cancelling all your insurance. If you’d have coughed in a phone back in 1968, you’d have simply heard, “Hey! I’m not paying long distance phone rates for you to hack up your lungs! Hang up and go to bed!”

What happened to our simple little world when machines knew their places? My truck yells at me if I don’t buckle up. My car flashes a big red warning light at me if I drive off with a door open. I’d like to hide in my bedroom and avoid all these machines, but my electric razor lives in the adjoining bathroom. Do you know how hard it is to rest and forget about the insanity of all our machines when your electric razor is playing in his tub and singing Broadway show tunes?



David McCoy, a notorious storyteller and proud Yellow Jacket, lives in Covington and can be reached at