The Inconvenience of Convenience

Essay by Antonio OmegaUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, October 1996

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It's everywhere! It surrounds us! You can't go anywhere to avoid

it! It lives in the campground out in the woods. It thrives on city streets and

freeways! People give up their lives for it! It will either help you or restrain and

restrict you! Convenience is unavoidable. Not only is it everywhere we turn, but

it has also become a necessity of life because of its influence in our upbringing.

You can drive down the street and you see everything from your incredible

abundance of drive-through restaurants and ten-minute oil changes to your odd-

sounding, but time saving drive-through markets. The automobile itself has

become one of, if not the most used item of modern convenience, ( maybe besides

the microwave ) and at the same time one of our most inconveniencing.

Convenience is so important to some people that they are the ones who install, or

create the idea to install bathrooms and showers at campgrounds, a place where

the idea is to go and ' rough it.

' The idea and importance of convenience has

even been a reason to end one's life. It is convenient because of its quickness to

end tough situations. My cousin recently used this excuse. Convenience is not a

bad thing, it usually is for the best, but it appears that to modern humanity, the

importance of convenience outweighs everything from how many leprechauns you

see per day to life itself.

There are countless ( actually it is more convenient to just say

countless than to actually count ) little household items that seem to be convenient

until it wants to create havoc for us.

The most obvious is the remote control. Yes, that little device that

has more buttons than a typewriter, and better disappearing acts than Houdini. Its

main purpose is not to play hide-and-seek with, it's to remove the need to walk to

the TV whenever something needs changing. The most recent wave of TV remote

controls have so many ' features ' that the only one it needs now is a little voice to

explain how it works. It is so much of a hassle yet people still buy the TV with

the most intricate remote because it has more ' features. ' Then they won't try to

understand how to use it and buy a universal remote to ease the searching for

which button on which control does what!

Then there is the beloved answering machine for your phone.

This miraculous piece of machinery let's you never miss one of those always-

important, pesky bill collectors, or the adoring, bothersome in-laws. This little

convenience is a nuisance to all those people who are failing to get in touch with

you, or at least a real person. If that isn't the worst of it, there is always the fun

game of phone tag: I call his answering machine, he calls mine, I call his again,

and so on... It may get to the point where you know the machine better than the

person you're desperately trying to get a hold of!

Moving away from the house, we encounter the car. The car

creates so many hassles all by itself. The convenience of owning your own

personal mode of transportation is far ( really far ) from cheap. The duty and

obligation associated with the freedom ( or restriction ) of the ability to drive

creates conflicts. Then there is the daily occurrence of traffic. Is it worth it?

A car sucks money away from you no matter how you try to twist

it. Car payments set a tight budget, and the money spent on gas and maintenance

alone can force you into buying single-ply toilet paper.

Next comes the duty you feel to drive either your significant other,

friend or any relative, if the need arises. You feel an obligation to convenience

them, either that or pity because they don't or can't drive, or no one else is willing

to take them. You don't want to seem like the ' bad guy ' and deny them

transportation, you want to make them feel cared for.

The biggest hassle created by the personal automobile, is the

wading through piles and piles of cars who are doing the same exact thing you are:

becoming frustrated and late. Traffic jams are the number one source of daily

stress in my life. The theory of the freeway is to create a road with a constant

flow of traffic, so how is it possible that a freeway of four lanes can have more

starts and stops than a cross-country trip through the streets?

Then there is my cousin Ernie. He died a twenty-seven year old

man with two children and a family that loved him. He hung himself two days

prior. His marriage problems were increasing with severity at the time. It came

without warning. To end his life was the easiest, quickest solving solution. I, to

the utmost, disagree, but that is what he decided. His selfish act of convenience

created so much anger and inconvenience in my family that we all had to cope for

a very long time, even with each others support. His act of convenience caused

cousins from as far as Chicago and Alaska to rush to the Fremont hospital. He

caused approximately one-hundred or so people to pass through the i.c.u. visitor

waiting room, and around fifty of that hundred to stay in the waiting room. All of

these people had to leave their schooling, or work, and were greatly

inconvenienced by their sorrow. With that act, he created so much more

inconvenience than solving his inconveniences.

Convenience must be important. It will erase all the nuances that

accompany a remote control. It will allow an impersonal machine to talk to and be

answered by a living person of whom doesn't feel any human to human

relationship, just human to machine. Convenience will make a person buy a car

and let it turn more hair white from stress with payments and traffic pile-ups rather

than accept a smidgen of inconvenience. And most of all, some humans are killed,

sometimes by their own selves for a little convenience. Surely modern civilization

rates convenience high, maybe a little too high.