I’ll Take a Person Over a Machine
While in Houston I had the opportunity to meet Alfred Brush Ford, the great grandson of Henry Ford, the genius inventor of the automobile. Alfred (also known as Ambarish) is a devout practitioner of bhakti. We happen to be friends. In the course of the dialogue I mentioned to him, “I hope you don’t mind me saying this, but I don’t like cars.” And he admitted, saying in response, “I don’t care for them either.”
We did not get into the reasons why, we didn’t go there. It was assumed that industrialization in general has taken a toll on a more agrarian and devotional lifestyle. He one time gave a comment in a discussion we had in Florida that technology has changed the world.
Who can deny that?
And, as I made for my boarding pass at the Houston International Airport, I had to cope with one of those self service machines. All went well until at the end of pressing a button a zillion times, that I must pay for my checked in baggage with a credit card only. The machine doesn’t take cash. So I, as a simpleton monk was stuck with a blank look on my face, and a big question,“What to do?”
I searched for an assistant who was helpful and said, “Just keep your baggage here and go to that machine (pointing to another one) where you can get a short term credit card.” Now, I’m a monk and I don’t have credit cards. “Thank you,” I said, partially meaning it. I was resentful and I guess I showed it somewhat. Apologetically she said,“Sorry, but that’s the way we do it now.”
Somewhere, someone, someday, I hope that it will be explained to me how such matters are supposed to simplify life. It may take a kalpa (Hindus and Buddhists know the length of time I’m talking about here) to be convinced about the advantages of such impersonal approaches. In the mean time I will clench my teeth or grit my teeth with a fake smile and learn the art of tolerance. After all, what is perfect in this world? Personally, I’d just rather talk to people for a minute than to deal with a mundane machine for 5 minutes.
Chant Hare Krishna and be happy.