My friend had a late night call from her teenage son.
“Mom, I have a flat tire and I don’t know where the spare is.”
Most members of my generation would never have been give the family car without Dad showing us how to change a tire, add oil, and of course, how to put gas in the tank.
She explained where the spare and the jack, were under the mat in the back, and then asked if he knew how to change the tire.
“I have my phone Mom, it’s OK. I can Google it, don’t worry.”
Amazing. This generation’s answer to everything is to look it up online. I was curious, so I typed into Google, ‘How to Change a tire on a Subaru.’ Sure enough, there were step by step pictures, a short video and some safety tips.
I started to think about how handy this tool would have been for me in my formative years, so I decided to do some research. For instance, Dad might say, “Chop that wood tomorrow and pile it in the shed; and do it properly.” Back then I wouldn’t know if I had done it properly until he came home.
So I Googled ‘How to pile firewood.’
Sure enough, on a site called the Science of Stacking Firewood, I learn lots of tips. Don’t stack too tightly so air can circulate, stack with irregularities to avoid a long vertical seam that will lead to collapse. There is even a quote from Henry Thoreau that says, “Wood warms you twice, once when you cut it and once when you burn it.”
I wonder what Dad’s reaction would have been if I had laid that on him at the end of the day?
My other big chore was milking our family cow once or twice a day. We were taught that if you learned hand milking once, you never forgot it. But some early, cold mornings in that draughty barn when the cow and I weren’t communicating, it would have been nice to Google a solution.
So I typed in ‘How to Hand Milk a Cow,’ and there it was in black and white, which is a coincidence because our cow was black and white.
Again there is a 10-minute video on one site and another offers a 10-step photo illustration that covers disinfecting, teat inspection and hand positioning. It talks about warming your hands and the teats to make the cow comfortable. If our cow became uncomfortable, she would slowly raise her right rear hoof off the floor. If she became uncomfortable again, the milk pail ended up in the gutter. This warning was not covered on the website.
What about a serious matter from my high school days — ‘How to Talk to a Pretty Girl.’
Sure enough, its right there — 13 steps with pictures and recommendations to help you avoid saying some stupid thing or, even worse, just standing there with your mouth open. Recommendation seven was the tough one: “While talking to a girl, try not to think about her female assets, or anything sexual, as this may make you nervous. Think of her as a good friend, at least for now.” Seriously, that’s a recommendation to give to a 16-year-old boy?
Too bad I had to live by trial and error and learn from my mistakes. Kids these days have it easy. At least that’s what McGregor says.