Putting the “Car” Before the Horse

man riding a horse in the grass valley

My recent blog post about – not quite embracing, but – giving AI a loose bro hug attracted some interesting comments and dredged up some feelings about the way the world is headed. AI is a tool, not a competitor – so far. But I wondered: Did horse riders refuse to ride in the new invention, the car, because they were so comfortable on the back of their trusty steed? Did they think the automobile was a fad they could crush by refusing to purchase one?

There have been nay-sayers about every disrupter in the marketplace.

“Television won’t be able to hold on to any market it captures after the first six months. People will soon get tired of staring at a plywood box every night.”

Darryl Zanuck, 20th Century Fox movie executive, 1946

If you’re old enough, you’ll remember George Jetson summoning his breakfast from a machine in the wall. Not a toaster or a microwave. He didn’t have to do anything except push buttons to get what he wanted. Isn’t the Internet already like that?

A Grudging Admission

A couple of weeks ago, I drove around a small area of St. Thomas where home improvement and hardware stores are clustered, looking for a simple drawer handle. I had painted a night stand and wanted an acrylic handle for the drawer. It wasn’t fancy or unusual. None of the stores had one nor was there anyone around to tell me whether one could be ordered.

I went home and checked online where I found a world of acrylic drawer pulls. The perfect one was on Amazon and delivered for free the next day.

White night table with an open shelf and lower drawer. On top, is an old tall rotary phone whose earpiece is now a lamp. The handle is acrylic with gold tone ends.
You see, it needed gold accents in order to compliment the lamp Derek made out of an old phone.

This purchase experience doesn’t please me but it’s just how it is. I loathe the thought of making Jeff Bezos richer, even by a few pennies. But you’ve got to hand it to his business model. And I did try hard to shop locally first.

A Shopper’s Lament

People hate self checkouts with a negative passion usually directed toward politicians. I admire their tenacity but self checkouts aren’t just replacing humans, they’re doing jobs that humans refuse to fill. Unless we can somehow convince corporations to pay cashiers more, self checkouts are the way of the future. Hate them all you want. It’s back to the horse and the car. If we can’t do anything about mega-bonuses for execs who lay off thousands – and it appears we can’t -what hope is there for changing any of this?

I’d rather keep people doing creative things and have AI clean my house or do my laundry. But the world doesn’t bend to my whims. (Darn!)

I believe we are in a new industrial revolution. We don’t know what the workforce will look like in 20 years. Clinging to what it used to be like is futile. Like coal miners fighting clean energy. Nothing is like it used to be and how it used to be wasn’t always better. Our generation had its chance at the steering wheel and now it’s up to younger folks who know less and want different things. They’re just like we were to the generation before us. And so on, and so forth. Lather, rinse, and repeat.

Picking Battles

Of course, this doesn’t mean we have to throw our hands up in defeat each time there’s an invention that shifts the way things are done. But sometimes, resistence is futile.

I fully support anyone who wants to take a stand against big pharma, grocery, whatever, because it gives them a purpose driven by their ethics. They’re showing their values and I think it’s great. Without people who refuse to accept the status quo, we wouldn’t have had a lot of wrongs in society put right. If you want to tie your horse to a post in the auto parking lot, fill your boots. It’s your right. But that doesn’t mean the rest of the world has to do it, too. Mind your judgement. As the late, great Kenny Rogers sang, you also have to know when to fold ’em.

6 thoughts on “Putting the “Car” Before the Horse”

  1. Went through your door handle experience a few years ago. We wanted new juice glasses that looked nice to replace the beautiful ones my mother-in-law gave us one Christmas. They were slowly disappearing due to breakage over time. It was December and we went to five or six stores in London. Eventually we found some at Tuckey’s. They were basic like you’d see in a restaurant but they worked. I’m still looking for ones like the original ones we had. If we wanted a Cosmopolitan or Singapore Sling with our breakfast, glasses were widely available for that, but juice, nope.

    I’m tired of retailers crying the blues because sales are down but they aren’t helping themselves by not stocking basic items.

    1. It’s true. I understand that they are restricted by floor space, and they don’t have giant warehouses. But the marketplace has changed and not everyone will make it through! It’s just reality.

  2. “Resistence is futile,” not a hope in hell, it’s essential! And let me share why.

    tap to pay has arrived in recent years and I often take advantage of it for it is another way I can protect my pin since I’m not required to enter it. However, if I go to pay for a purchase which exceeds the payment limit for tap debit or credit payments and have to insert my card and enter my pin, I can’t! Why? The majority of payment terminals are all now touch screen which is fine if your sighted but I require physical buttons.

    So my future looks like:

    Self checkout only stores, Human Rights legal action.
    Touch screen payment terminals with no alternative, Human Rights legal action.
    Touch screen only order terminals at fast food restaurants, Human Rights legal action.

    My future is bright, in the halls of justice anyway.

    1. To be fair, the sentence read “SOMETIMES resistence is futile.” In these cases though, I see where you’re going and I’ll cheer you on.

  3. There’s no sense selling horse rides if everyone wants to take one of these new fancy automobiles for a spin.

    Dinosaurs SHOULD die.

    That said, the market is wise. If enough people react against self-checkout, it will fail.

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