I’m a traditionalist

I’ve always thought of myself as a traditionalist, someone who sticks to what works. Why put all of your faith in innovation when some things are perfectly fine they way they are? Like turning signals. Call me old-fashioned, but for many years, drivers shared the road just fine by sticking their hands out of their windows and pointing at which way they were going to turn. But try telling that to the cop that pulled me over last week. He wouldn’t hear it, gave me a ticket for a broken turning signal, even after I showed him, “Look, it works just fine, I just prefer to use the hand signals!” he wouldn’t even respond to me, just kind of tore the ticket out of his book and let it float down in through my open window.

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But I can’t expect the police to understand the values of tradition. They’ve practically given up on everything that’s come before them. Routine police work has been overtaken by all sorts of scientific mumbo-jumbo, DNA evidence, surveillance camera tape. When was the last time you saw a detective take out a magnifying glass at a crime scene? That’s like the most basic detective skill I can think of. No, but these modern specialists are all about forensics, taking pictures, using that two-way trick mirror supposedly to make suspects feel as if they’re not being watched.

And come on, if I’m ever in a room somewhere, and half of the wall to my side is a giant mirror, of course I’m going to assume that there’s someone watching on the other side. You know how old-school cops would do it? They’d interrogate a crook with everyone in the force watching, staring. You think a mirror is going to help extract a confession? I’m telling you, this new technology is ruining the force.

It’s ruining everything. It’s ruining dentistry. I went in for a checkup last month and there was this giant TV positioned right in front of my face. Whichever way I turned, regardless of what angle the dentist reclined the chair, I couldn’t turn away, they were playing Everybody Loves Raymond. What happened to sitting in a chair and listening to the soothing sounds of drill-on-tooth? Why do we have to be constantly entertained?

And yes, I still got to hear the drill, which I thought would have been enough to distract me from Raymond, but this fancy dentist thought of that one too, there were subtitles running along the bottom of the screen. When I was a little kid, there weren’t any subtitles. If you couldn’t hear the TV, if the volume button on the set was broken, and your little brother flushed the remote down the toilet, you just had to sit there and guess what they were saying.

And we liked it that way. What’s wrong with giving a kid a lollipop after he gets out of the dentist’s office? Call me an originalist, but I hardly feel like a free toothbrush and a travel-sized tube of Colgate Total makes up for the hour that I had to sit there and feel a tiny metal hook go back and forth over my gums. And go ahead, tell me that it was my own fault, that I shouldn’t complain if I turn down the laughing gas. My grandfather didn’t get to use laughing gas when he went to the dentist, neither did my great grandfather. And they had great teeth.

And they used to tell me that stuff like that was good for you, that sitting there being strapped to a chair while your mouth was in agony was a healthy thing. Like when my kids get braces, I’m going to insist on the old kind, a whole mouthful of metal, and I want those things cemented in, the kind of an adhesive that leaves a discoloration on their teeth after they’re done straightening everything out.

Go ahead and laugh at my antiquated ways, but it’s like I always say, “if it ain’t broke, don’t try to invent something else that improves on how it currently works.” It’s not as catchy as “don’t fix it,” but the gist is the same, and catchy phrases are nothing but grammatical trickery, a bunch of newfangled words arranged in a convenient jingle. No thanks, I’ll stick to how they’ve done it before, old, tested, that’s it.

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