Kids today. Sheesh. There, I said it. I’m officially a
geezer. Still: Kids today. Sheesh. So
I’m out in the garage the other day, fussing with bicycles. That’s what I do.
Everybody knows it. People bring their bikes by, and I try to fix them. Most
times, I do. Hang on a minute, the phone’s ringing…
Ok, where was I? Oh, yeah: So the other day, this boy stops
by. He’s fourteen, maybe fifteen. In high school. Six feet tall, and riding a
bike built for someone shorter than me. Fine. What’s the problem? The seat’s
loose. Excuse me? The seat is loose. Can you tighten it? Yeah, I can do that. I
can do that blindfolded. Without looking, I reach into my wrench drawer and
pull out the correct 14mm combination wrench. A couple of good tugs on the seat
bolt and she’s snug. Done. That quick. The kid rides off happy and I stand
there pondering the fate of kids today. Sheesh.
So yeah, I’ll admit that I can’t operate about 100% of the
techno gizmos on the market today. I don’t even have a cell phone. The youth of
today are ahead of me there, but: The kid couldn’t scrounge up a wrench to
tighten his own seat? What’s the world
coming to? Are we evolving, if that’s the right word, into a people that can no
longer do anything? Are all physical and mechanical skills slowly
being phased out in place of phone apps? Are we going to end up as fat blobs
staring at small screens? Oh, wait, we’re mostly already there. Never mind.
I ride my bicycle around town, and I see a lot, but let me
tell you what I don’t see so much any more: Work benches and tools in garages.
I’d say less than one garage in a hundred is set up for someone to actually do
something in there. For the most part, garages in America today are simply cheap
storage facilities. Some of them even have room for a car. My garage holds
about 30 bikes and trikes, two motorcycles, two motor scooters, a pick up
truck, and ten foot long workbench with a bench grinder on one end and a drill
press on the other. And a ton of tools. Probably literally. My man cave rocks.
I like working with my hands. I like to fuss with bikes and
I like to build stuff. I like to make noise and make sawdust and at the end of
the day, I like to have to really work at it to get my hands clean. That makes
me feel like I did more than stare at a screen all day. (As I stare at my
computer screen right here right now.) Do they even teach “Shop” in school any
more? I took years of it, and I’m very glad I did.
My Dad was a carpenter before he joined the Army, and he always
had a well equipped workshop no matter where he lived. I continue that
tradition, and with many of his original tools. I know how to sharpen a drill
bit. I know how to sharpen a saw. And I do. In this modern, disposable society
we are fast loosing the craft workers and trade skills that we need to keep it
all running. People don’t fix things any more. They simply buy new, then pay to
have it installed. I can’t do as much as I used to, but I still do what I can.
But what of the kids I see? The ones that can’t tighten a bolt?
Will the physical world mean that little in the coming years? I don’t think so.
I think it will still be important, if not vital, for a person to be able to do
real things with real tools themselves. And it looks as though no one is
teaching that any more. Too bad. You can’t drive a nail with your cell phone,
Oh, and that phone call earlier? Neighborhood kid. A
different one this time. His handlebars were loose. Could I tighten them? Kids
read more: Kids today . . .