There are some things that we have that we don’t use, or at least don’t use often. For some, this is a good thing. My fire extinguishers and smoke detectors are top of the line models that hopefully will languish until they need to be replaced. No rational person complains about wasting money on such items.
Other items are rarely used. We have a set of dishes that my wife’s grandmother gave us that have a Christmas motif. Most of the year they sit in the cupboard over the refrigerator, but between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day they not only do get used, but they also provide a great excuse to remember Carmen and talk about the good times we had with her. Other holiday items share similar use characteristics – brought out for the appropriate occasion, enjoyed and then stored until the next year. Of course some years we can’t find the Halloween box because it got buried under the Mardi Gras and Easter boxes – but that’s a different story.
Some items are single use and then stored; we have the dress my daughter wore as a flower girl in a family wedding 7 years ago carefully hung in the closet. College diplomas may end up on the office wall but high school (and even grade school) diplomas maybe kept. They usually end up in one of the boxes that makes the trip to every new address only to be taken to the attic with the box still tightly taped.
Others items were once regularly used but then were stored, such old military uniforms from persons still living and their ancestors long deceased. This also happens with tools that once belonged to grandpa or great-uncle Charlie. Unfortunately no one knows how to use a draw shave (yes, that’s a real tool) anymore – just like Great Grandma’s button hook which she used for her shoes.
There are many reasons for having something that doesn’t get used regularly. However, I am puzzled by one item in particular. Turn signals.
Every automobile manufactured after 1960 has a little lever on the left side of the steering wheel that can be used to signal the driver’s intention to make a turn. Some people are not only reluctant to use it but may not even know that it’s there.
My grandfather learned to drive using hand signals and didn’t use his turn signal until my father explained to him how it worked, but that was about 1961. I suspect most people who are driving today should be aware of this marvelous little gadget. Maybe they zoned out in Drivers’ Education after the gory traffic accident movie and never refocused.
I don’t think anyone knows or cares who invented it. Maybe if the inventor were known and we referred to it as the “Hansen-Buckley Turnolite” or the Maybe just “the Wilkowski” it would get more use. If Steve Jobs invented it I’m sure it would be painted white and only compatible with and available from only a few car manufacturers. People would wait for the next auto show to see what this year’s enhanced turn signal could do.
On the other hand, if Bill Gates were responsible for it, you’d have to buy an upgrade every three years and upload bug fixes and service packs every Tuesday night. It would mimic Steve Jobs signal, but wouldn’t be perceived as anywhere near as prestigious.
Instead, the turn signal is something that’s free (or at least included as a standard feature), reliable and easy to use. It’s more convenient to use while driving than a cell phone, the radio/CD player or even the cup holder, yet many people just refuse to use it.
Makes you wonder.