Useless Convenience

Recently, my wife, Anna, presented me with a gift: a new stereo for my car. Having gone without a functioning stereo system for awhile, I warmly welcomed it and couldn’t wait to it get installed. It had all the bells and whistles: HD Radio, CD player, iPod dock, satellite ready and, to my astonishment, a remote. My first thought was, “Huh, you’ve got to be kidding? Is it really that much trouble to fully extend an arm the extra six inches to press a button?” I’m sure Sony was anticipating that their product might find its way into a mini-van, or a boat, where it might, in fact, be out of reach. In my car, however, a remote is excessive. But I’m a guy and I hate to see a good remote go to waste.

Let’s see — I could duct-tape it to my steering wheel. That won’t work. I don’t think I could resist imagining, every time I see it, a paramedic plucking volume control buttons out of my forehead. Maybe I could use tie straps and attach it to the emergency brake? Nah, it would just rotate around and look tacky. I’ve got it! I’ll mount it conveniently here on the dash right next to the, er, radio.

My little machinations on where to place a useless remote made me wonder if I’ve fallen prey to a culture super-saturated with selling the convenient. Ease of use. Fast-acting. Instant results. These are the catchphrases of our convenience-driven culture that we’re all steeped in. I admit, I love the gadgets it produces: mobile phones, iPads, drive-thru coffee; even a useless car stereo remote. But when it comes to matters of my heart toward others, there are a few questions I find myself asking, “Do I treat others with a convenience mindset? Am I only willing to reach out to those nearby? Those easiest to talk to? Those who reach out to me first? How much effort do I really put forth in improving my friendship with others? Are those whom I think most positively about merely those who make me feel good about myself?”

Those are important questions for me to consider. If I don’t take those questions seriously, I’m likely to be as helpful to others as a car stereo remote. Mine’s now conveniently tucked away somewhere in the bottom of my glovebox.

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