"A long memory can drive a man crazy."
-- Brit Bennett, The Vanishing Half

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

There Are Two Kinds of People

     I spent most of yesterday buying and setting up a new printer. I found the entire process really annoying, and I got no satisfaction at all from finally seeing my new printer spit out a few sheets of paper -- printing the way it's actually supposed to print.

     My old printer gave out four days ago. I found out that in this day and age you don't last long in life without a printer. Our basic human needs are:  air, water, food ... and a printer.

     So I went down to my friendly neighborhood computer shop, bought myself an HP printer, and carried it home -- with a promise from my friend at the computer store that I could call him if I had any trouble.

     I called a total of eight times.

     First, the pop-up window didn't show up. Then I got confused about Step 5 in the instructions. After I got my desktop hooked up with a USB cable, I went to connect up my laptop via wi fi. I couldn't fit the disk in; I couldn't identify the right cable to plug in temporarily; and on and on. But I finally did get the damn thing working. I should feel proud of myself. Right? But I don't.

The beauty ...
     I'm all thumbs with mechanical things, I admit it. I think part of my problem is that I don't really want to do the job. And I derive absolutely no satisfaction in fixing something, in finally getting some damn thing to work.

and the beast
     The odd thing is that I do not have much of a green thumb either, yet I enjoy gardening. I do not get annoyed when the grass doesn't grow in the shade under the trees in the corner of the back yard., I just go out, every spring, and plant more grass seed. And I actually do take some satisfaction in planting a bush or a tree, and watching it grow. As often as not, it dies. No matter. I must not have dug the hole deep enough, or I didn't give it enough water; or maybe the spot was too shady, or too sunny. I try it again, maybe with a different plant, or the same plant in a little different location.

     And when it does grow, I feel an enormous sense of accomplishment. Okay, maybe "enormous" is a bit of an exaggeration, but I joke that I spend about three times as much time admiring my gardening as I do actually doing the work. But so what? It feels good to admire your own work -- but what's to admire about a new printer that's working, just the same way as the old printer was working?

     Whereas, when you plant a bush or a tree or some grass, you have something there that didn't exist before. If you grow vegetables, you have something good to eat!

     I have a row of bushes on the far side of the driveway that I've planted over the past five years. I admire them every time I back the car out of the garage (although it kills me when B runs into them). I prune the fruit tree in the front lawn -- and admire the trim of the branches, and all the flowers that bloom as a result. I even admire my lawn which, if you don't look too closely, actually looks like grass.

     B's son is the exact opposite. Her brother, too. They both love working on a carpentry project, or figuring out electrical connections, or puzzling over a computer problem and coming up with the right answer. They get big smiles on their faces when the cables are all in their proper place, the computer lights up, and the printer starts whirring.

     The old joke is that there are two kinds of people in the world -- those who divide the world into two kinds of people, and those who don't. But maybe it's really divided into people who take pleasure in fixing things; and people who like to garden.

     Why do I get a sense of accomplishment out of one, not the other? I dunno. You tell me.



Susan Bearman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Susan Bearman said...

I ran across your post because my blog is actually called Two Kinds of People. I get moderate satisfaction from getting my electronic equipment to work properly, although I would prefer when it plugs and plays with no glitches. I get enormous satisfaction from figuring out new things on the Internet, or getting my parents electronics to work well, because the get totally frustrated with new machines.

On the other hand, I get absolutely no satisfaction from gardening. I appreciate a beautiful garden, but don't enjoy the act of gardening. Maybe if you could just do it once every few years, like setting up a new printer, it would work for me, but the constant upkeep is way beyond my attention span. Nice post.

stephen Hayes said...

I hate gardening. I can kill plastic flowers, and computers cause me no end of dissatisfaction. At least you have gardening.

Arkansas Patti said...

You know what gives you pleasure, just enjoy. Gardening is such a rewarding past time. Fixing something that should work is just frustrating.
Had to laugh at your yard that looks like grass. I have one of those. The only good think is that most of my weeds that pass for grass are also edible.

Jan O said...

Gardening is perfect for retired folks because it never ends. It is a constant stream of change, success, and failure. No two years are the same and it requires continuous planning, assessment,sol and adaptation. You can never plunk things in and be done. If you have lots of time it is a great way to keep busy and physically active.
Technology is a royal pain...a true love/hate relationship. Who can keep up?? If possible, pay to have someone else set it up and work on just being able to function!

#1Nana said...

Oh no! My new printer is sitting in its box in the office waiting for me to set it up. First I had to set up the new laptop. I went on a technological spending spree after both of these essentials died within days of each other. The laptop was three years old, the printer only a year. I hope the new ones last a little longer!

Catch Her in the Wry said...

I love both fixing things and gardening. The two are similar in that one must analyze a problem, look at the relationships of all the components,and devise a plan of attack. Suprisingly, things then work and plants do grow.

I find that I need a printer less and less these days. You sound like my husband who thinks he can't live without a printer. Printers are fading away, just like fax machines. Digital storage is safer, cheaper, and takes up less room. You just need to quit hanging on to the ways of the past. At least that's what I tell my spouse. Some old dogs just don't want to learn new tricks. ;-)

Jono said...

I like fixing things AND growing things. What's wrong with me?

sell my house said...

I like fixing things but i hate gadening.Its strange but i love flowers and tree both.sell my house

Clinton Mcalexander said...

Hah, I’m with you on the setting up thing. I think it’s best to have a professional set everything up to ensure that everything is working. I think the title of this entry should be more like, “There Are Two Kinds Of Jobs” because there actually are – there’s the job you can’t and won’t do, and the job you love too much to not want to do, no matter how good or bad you are at it. This, I think, is the case with you, the printer, and the plants. I think a lot of people can relate, especially with technology, haha!