Open the Pod Door Hal

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) Directed by Stanley Kubrick Shown: Keir Dullea

By David Glenn Cox

Gather round children Grand pa Dirt is going to tell you all about “the good old days.” Teradactles circled overhead lazily as we walked the twenty-five miles uphill to school each day in blinding snowstorms. We wore animal skins and were forced to memorize the names of all twelve Presidents. The telephone was  attached to a wall and if you wanted to make a call you would have to fit your finger into one of the ten numbered holes in the dial and would have to spin that dial seven times. Your call then had two options, 1, your party would answer the phone and you could have a sparkling conversation about the merits of DDT and the coming of the automobile. Or, 2, your party would not pick up and the phone would ring incessantly until you came to your senses and realized that they weren’t at home.

“Thank you for calling Acme Products. Where we make tomorrow explosive. Your call is not very important to us. If it had been, we would have answered the damn phone. If we suspected for one minute that we could get our hands on that greasy dollar in your pocket, we would be speaking to you right now. Press one for English and press two for Spanish. If you’re calling about the Wile E. Coyote signature collection press the star key followed by your fifteen-digit customer number. If you know your parties name, you can type it into to our automated system where you will be told there is no one here by the name of Bob and be disconnected.

Boy, back in the day we had this device and it really worked well. It was installed on most electric gizmos and was so simple it didn’t require a tutorial or trouble shooting. We called it the “Off” switch. Just by turning a knob to the right or left you had absolute and total control over any device.  With one finger you could turn on or off any radio, television, or blender. We could watch all three channels in living black and white. While it was not pretty, it was simple. Power on, cable box on, speakers on. Do you want to watch this live or would you like to record it for later? Do you want the machine to record all the episodes for you? Would you like to watch the episode in Spanish? Would you like to be notified whenever Wolf Blitzer is on?

Then you can scroll through the listings, “Car 54, I love Lucy, Andy Griffith, the Dick Van Dyke Show and Bonanza!” Boy, this technology is great! I could watch some of the newer programming “White Trash – The Movie.” Or Trailer Park Tales or How Green are my Teeth. High tech, big screen, High Definition stereophonic nonsense designed to keep the swan divers off the interstate bridges. Boy my life sucks but not as bad as the folks on TV. We bought this abandoned house for nine dollars in the worst neighborhood in town. We’re going to renovate it from the ground up for just one hundred thousand dollars! It will be the nicest house on gang turf with a police substation down the street.

My first car was a piece of crap. If the tires were low, I had to figure that out all by myself. I had to figure out if the door was open or if I was low on fuel. It would not remind me to put on my seat belt and if I wanted to back up, I had to physically turn around and look out the back window. Those were barbaric times all that responsibility while at the same time peace and quiet. I operated the machine the machine didn’t operate me. I gave the instructions, not the other way around. If I wanted to drive around on low tires so be it! If I was so dull witted that I couldn’t figure out that my door was open the technology of the 60s and 70s wouldn’t save me. “Won’t you please help? Every year thousands of Americans fall out of moving vehicles because they lack an annoying chime warning them of the danger. “

When the computer age began, it was called the computer revolution. We anticipated change but also the idea that one day the revolution would be over, and peace would return to our little world. Instead, we have constant invasions of technology which become increasingly helpful in a not so helpful way. The person I vote we strangle first is the technology genius that invented the “Are you sure” feature. Are you sure you want to save that? Are you sure you want to turn this off? Coming from the past, I was expecting better. The robot from “Lost in Space” didn’t pester the shit out of Will Robinson asking, “are you sure? He’d answer the question and snap off a one liner. A comic relief computer instead of a ritual nag. Yes mother, I saved my document and yes, I brushed my teeth.

As some of you know, I was recently laid off due to the pandemic and those bastards wanted their phone back. Well then, I got one of those pop ups telling me that a computer virus was present, a simple PUP no biggie. I ran Malware and everything was great except I lost my log in cookie for Facebook. Facebook now has a two-stage authorization meaning once you give your password and log in they will send you a code to your phone. The phone I don’t have anymore. Being the fifteenth, I was paying bills when the computer asked, “I see you’re calling or logging in from a different device. What was the name of your family pet in elementary school? Why it was the same name we called him at home, but he never went to elementary school.

Rather than a computer revolution a technological flood moving perpetually ever onwards as the people struggle to keep from drowning. Like frozen in the technology you learned on a generational thing. Unless you are in the higher circles of the techno temple sooner or later the technology slips away. “Open the pod door Hal.” I’m afraid I can’t do that Dave. What is your password Dave? Followed by your sixteen-digit employee number and your pin number Dave. Then go to our home page and read the seven simple steps you’ll need to log in Dave. Dave? Are you still there Dave?

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