In Memory of my Dad #21

Written by Bob Briggs on July 29, 1995 before computers had really taken over the world and everyone carried one in their hip pocket.

Computers will lie to you.  Computers never apologize for their mistakes either.  Believe me they make plenty of them.

I just recently got my finances straightened out with Sports Illustrated.  I did it by cancelling my subscription.  I still get letters all the time offering me a free video or a free sweatshirt with the name of my favorite NFL team emblazoned across the front.  I can even take the E-Z payments plan, $4.49 for four months.

Farmers and ranchers today would be lost without their Apples or their Macintoshs, or is that the same company?  Anyway they would be lost without their computers. 

Long ago city dwellers sought out the quiet peaceful life that was offered here in Cherokee county.  Soon the city streets were clogged with people driving to where?  At any time of the day you can sit at any red light in town, and you never have the road all to yourself. 

A photographer recently told me that the population of Tahlequah was 10,000 people.  Hell, there’s that may cars parked at Wal-mart on any given day.

But to get back to computers, I never thought that a computer would replace the hired man.  I’m sure my dad felt the same way about the jet age overtaking the automobile.  He figured that the horseless carriage was merely an invention to take an afternoon drive in at the then unheard of speed of 40 MPH.

How does this new contraption work?  It’s a mystery to me.

You can’t keep a computer in the barn because the chicken would roost on it, and you know what happens when chickens roost.  So it will have to sit in your living room right next to your VCR and CD player.

I know nothing of computers except that you shovel in a lot of info, press a button and out comes your answer in a  few seconds.  The computer has put more people out of work than the welfare program.

My main connection here in Hulbert with a computer is that it calls me a liar saying that I didn’t pay for my subscription.  After sending in copies of my cancelled check, I did get a manager to say he was sorry for the inconvenience but nary a word from the computer.

Say the gentleman farmer wants to go to the coast for some deep-sea fishing, so he starts feeding the computer.  The calf that he has been fattening up must have cow-cake kicked out to it morning and night.  The birds must be fed along with the chickens.  Milk must be left out for the barn cats.  The horses must be curried and combed.  The cow must be fed.  The electricity must be turned off except to the deep freeze.

And so he takes off for the coast where the waves are whitecapping and the big marlin are jumping and the flounder are fighting to get hold of his line and are begging to be broiled according to his guide.  Just a couple of days for doing nothing except lying back and watching his troubles roll past like floaters on the Illinois. 

But what happens when he returns Monday morning?

Something has gone wrong.

He notices a smell like rotting meat when he goes to put his founder in the deep freeze.  The machine is silent, no reassuring hum.  Melted ice cream sloshes around the quail that he was saving for Sunday cooking.  The horse is staring at a can of Puss ‘n Boots atop a 50 pound block of salt.  The calf is trying to decided what to do with the small bit of birdseed.  At least the barn cats have a curry comb to play with.

It must have been the laundry list that was entered into the computer, how else do you explain the cat moving into the master bedroom and delivering a litter of kittens?  How else do you explain the laundry ending up in the tool shed?

Further investigation reveals the birds screaming at a bale of hay while the tomcat tries to chew some cottonseed cake.

The gentleman farmer mourns for the good old days before computers when Charlie or Ted worked the farm from first light until dusk taking care of the animals.

But that was before they were retired to the nursing homes and Social Security.  He can imagine what kind of homecoming he would have had if he’d have left Charlie in charge.  The cow would have been milked and the eggs gathered.  The parakeet would probably have escaped into the woods, but Charlie would have been anticipating an owl/parakeet mixture or at least a crow/parakeet dabbling.

The cats would have been chasing mice out in the barn as all cats should and the horses would have been muzzling hay in the confines of the barn.  The calf might have been overfed—but just by a little.  Besides the vet only charges $25 as a special favor to his cousin Charlie.

Maybe we should all become a little more computer friendly. 

Or at least buy flounder at the grocery store.


  1. Lenore Diane says:

    Another great piece by your Dad. Interesting about the ‘date’ of it. So much has changed in the past – gosh – 16yrs!


  2. Donna H. says:

    Like Lenore Diane, I noticed the date as well! (Mostly because July 29th is my birthday, but not 1995 … oh how I wish :} ! It was about then . however, that I proclaimed that these “d–n” computers were going to be the ruination of all of us!! And on most days, I still believe that we (me and Bob) were correct! That being said, as I think further on it, if it weren’t for computers I wouldn’t have been offered the opportunity to become “acquainted” with all you fine folks, or be priviledged to read the many heartwarming and interesting stories by your Dad! I think what I miss most about “talking” (e-mail) to someone I love or care about, is hearing their voice and feeling the connection. My family (all five of us here locally), still talk on the phone to each other EVERY day! I know … that’s just crazy in this day and age, isn’t it??? Mostly it just starts with “Hi” and always ends with ” luv ya”, but we are creatures of habit, I guess! and I’m blessed that we still carry on the tradition!! Often after talking with my 92 year old mother-in-law, I find myself thinking of my darling mom and how I treasured our daily calls and remembering how special that “last” phone call became to me when she was no longer here. Since I have “unofficially adopted” you, (against your wishes probably), I will continue to come here each day to “listen” to what you have to say. My day just doesn’t feel quite complete without hearing from you, as well ! (not to make your feel quilty of anything …ha.ha Until next time … Donna H.


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