There are many things in life, monumental and minuscule, silly and significant, which should be far easier than they are.
It should be easier than it is to remember names, learn other languages or get your luggage off the plane in less time than it took for you to fly to your destination.
Yet one thing I never imagined would prove difficult has recently become a source of consternation: It should be easier, I believe, to prove that I am not a robot.
Earlier this week, I placed my thoroughly corporeal, mortal and fleshy self firmly in front of my home computer because I wanted to buy a handbag from a consignment website.
Nothing could offer better evidence of plain old human frailty than the very act itself. But before I could make the purchase, I had to prove my personhood to the website.
Evidence of humanity now depends, apparently, on an ability to click on all the squares containing crosswalks, then on all the squares containing buses, and then, as if just for laughs, all the squares containing fire hydrants.
It was the fire hydrants that got me swearing in a decidedly non-algorithmic manner.
That’s when I also decided that when I did need another handbag, I would go to a retail establishment where the ability to recognize the image patterns that form dollar bills was all the proof of anything I would need to provide.
In addition to proving we’re not robots, the following things should also be easier:
- Cleaning the litter box while not spilling your wine (thanks DC Stanfa).
- Mastering the so-called “universal remote” (a device that sounds as vague and impractical as it is). Half the people I know wish they could return to on-off switches. Many would, if necessary, prefer to get up off the couch to change channels and control the volume. My spouse and I once watched 40 minutes of “Too Cute” because we couldn’t figure out how to get to “360 with Anderson Cooper.”
- Understanding that loneliness, like hunger or exhaustion, reveals a deep need that must be addressed.
- Knowing what the actual final cost of the hotel room will be after they add the resort fee, the local taxes, the federal taxes, the planetary taxes, the Wi-Fi charge, the climate-control taxes, the indoor-room tax, the hallway usage fee, the elevators fee and the please-don’t-use-your-towels gratuity in order to save the earth gratuity (not included).
- Using public transportation (thanks Kristina Dolce).
- Dying when you choose to (thanks Leighann Lord).
- Knowing the precise moment when an avocado is ripe (thanks Jennifer Lynn).
- Ending a relationship that makes you or someone else chronically unhappy, discouraged or obsessive.
- Turning down an invitation to an event you absolutely don’t want to attend when it is issued by a person who matters to you (thanks Amy Hartl Sherman).
- Reaching a living, responsive, knowledgeable customer service representative on the phone before the point where you start shouting “AGENT! AGENT!” into the mouthpiece and hitting random buttons (I would like to thank the friends who put this at the top of their own should-be-easier lists, but I can’t because there were approximately 4,972 of them).
- Not getting shot when not in a war zone (thanks Timothy A. Livengood).
- Paying off student loans and getting control over debt incurred while attending college (thanks to former student Tim Stobierski, who writes about ways to wrestle with this problem in his “Student Debt Warriors” blog).
- Putting down the fork, the glass, the plate, the dish, the spoon and the cup because you’ve had enough.
- Choosing the right light bulb. As Robin Hauser Franklin put it, “It used to be just about picking wattage. Now it’s color and effect: white, sunlight, soft-white or Casper the friendly ghost. I’ve come to dread the responsibility of buying light bulbs.”
Finally, two things in life that should be easier are starting something and then finishing it.
Sometimes, of course, it’s not difficult at all.