Mirror Magazine


Confessions of a technophobe
By Roo
It was only yesterday that the truth dawned on me, for I lost the war against the elevator. The 'lift' that I am compelled to use on a daily basis is the prime reason for everything that goes wrong.

The building I had entered was architecturally designed. A large glass window looked into the elevator entrance. The architect could not have dreamed of what a calamity this would create. It was late evening and sunlight was creeping into the building via the glass window.

I stepped into the lift adamant to keep relations between myself and the 'technological marvel' peaceful. It was not to be so. The lift doors are extremely sensitive to sunlight and refuse to close when the slightest light creeps in the door. This was extremely helpful. I tried pushing the doors towards each other, but to no avail. They would close up right to the ray of light and then promptly open once again. Another disgruntled passenger stepped in. "Okay, you take one door and I'll take the other," he mumbled making the entire situation seem like it was a daily occurrence. We gave it our best shot, still no luck.

All kinds of unhealthy thoughts rushed through my head. Who on earth invented this piece of metal which cannot be of any use to any human being interested in being on time for appointments? I found out.

Primitive elevators were in use as early as the 3rd century BC, operated by human, animal or water wheel power. (I am certain that this was a way more effective method than using electricity.) From about the middle of the 19th century, power elevators, often steam-operated, were used for conveying materials in factories, mines and warehouses.
In 1853, American inventor Elisha Otis demonstrated a freight elevator equipped with a safety device to prevent falling in case a supporting cable should break. This increased public confidence in such devices. Otis established a company for manufacturing elevators and patented a steam elevator. Soon after, Sir William Armstrong introduced the hydraulic crane and in the early 1870s, hydraulic machines began to replace the steam-powered elevator. The hydraulic elevator is supported by a heavy piston, moving in a cylinder and operated by the water (or oil) pressure produced by pumps. The German inventor Werner von Siemens built electric elevators in 1880.

The problems surrounding elevators do not end here. Ever noticed the DANGER signs that are hung inevitably next to the elevator door? These are quite frightening to say the least and may lead to trying circumstances. Being the unsuspecting mortal that I am and having to wait until the 'marvel' turned up, I read through the instructions pertaining to 'How to survive through an elevator crash'. When the lift finally turned up, I was too afraid to step in.

What if the cable broke and the lift came crashing down and got stuck between two floors like what happened in Speed? What if there was no Keanu Reeves who would turn up? What if my neck got stuck between the doors and the lift proceeded up with no regard to my wellbeing whatsoever? (That thought really hurt!) What if (and this was the worst possible scenario) I thought I stepped into the lift yet had only stepped into the space between the lift and solid ground.

Someone has to pass a legislation against it. For the perks of climbing the stairs are endless. The stepper, which many mortals use in order to lose weight in gymnasiums is a smaller and sleeker version of a single step in a staircase. Climbing up three flights of stairs (which I would be compelled to) in the absence of an elevator would be of immense help in the health department.

Revolving doors are another source of endless quandary. You see, revolving doors are made of glass. Therefore no one with decent eyesight is able to decipher one door from the next. The opening to the doors is small and therefore able to only fit in small mortals. Once one has entered the precincts of the revolving door, it is difficult to make an elegant exit (which I have attempted many times). I strongly advocate the removal of all revolving doors and the addition of strong opaque doors in its place.

But it's not only the doors of modern technology that give us trouble. The escalator is (I believe) one of the main reasons for beer bellies, as it hinders the use of our god given apparatus - the legs. A carpet riding on a bunch of wires that may shortcircuit at any time cannot be a sane method of transportation. I have often visualised seeing my new flat-soled shoes make its way to the darkness (which I believe) encompasses the bottom of the escalator. Once there, the shoes suffer in silence as the maintenance men strip the escalator apart only once a year.

"What about microwaves?" ventures another technophobe. "I suffer from the morbid fear that once I take a dish out of the microwave, it will blow up in my face and I will suffer from a severe case of scarring due to microwave heated food particles splashing on my face." I agree. Whatever anyone might say, life in this modern age is difficult to comprehend.

The technological marvel - the computer? Someone once told me that with the entry of the computer, more people are likely to be laid off from work. But over 20 years into the computer age and more jobs have cropped up due the fact that no one is able to understand the 'marvel' of a computer. Every time I make an attempt to write a formal letter a 'smart' paperclip turns up on the screen asking if I want assistance. And when one answers in the negative, the paperclip merely winks and slips to a corner of the screen waiting for the next moment to pounce on your most minute mistake.

Downloading anything off the World Wide Web (the greatest source of information available to all those who have a connection) is not a simple task. Each pop-up menu is accompanied by a smiling creature that would inquire as to whether you are truly willing to download the following items, as there is serious doubt as to whether your 'slow' computer will have the mental capacity (or should that be technological capacity) to understand its contents. Then there are the numerous 'You have performed an illegal operation, you MUST shut down the computer and lose all unsaved information' that inevitably pops up just as you are about to save that vital document to a floppy disk (which is far from floppy and more like a steel card invented to ruin the shape of your bag.)

But getting back to yesterday's lift door - well, it refused to meet. (Wonder if it was due to the fact that Valentine's Day had passed by and the doors were mad at each other.) In my case - the stairs were the only answer. And I feel healthier already.

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