Convenience

No idiom today but an observation about a a concept I have come to loath: convenience.

Convenience food, pic: © Dannyphoto80 | Dreamstime.com

Let me start by talking about the reasons I left Germany many years ago: the weather (it’s true), to go back to school, and to some extend I wanted to escape German culture and see something else.  Most notably, I wanted to escape that most German of all traits: “Gemuetlichkeit.”

Now here is a word that is impossible to translate into just one word.  The concept implies comfort and coziness, the absence of undue striving for something else, contentedness.  A good thing, many people think, but also something that makes you value routine, repetition, and the status quo.  I wanted to get away from that, shake it up.

Now, 15 years or so later I have become similarly annoyed with the American obsession with convenience.  Everything these days seems measured by how convenient it is: people rather sit in a car and wait in a long line to conveniently get their fast food of coffees in the drive-by lane instead of enduring the unbelievable inconvenience of parking, walking a few steps and ordering their stuff with a person instead of a machine.  The latter, I have recently observed, often being the fast way of getting what you want.

Food in general.  One is supposed to give food some thought, preparing it takes some time but then one knows what’s in it.  At least in my world that’s worth the trouble of cooking rice instead of reheating pre-cooked one and the inconvenience of slicing of a piece of cheese from a larger chunk of fresh cheese beats squeezing a portion-sized one out of a individual plastic wrapper.

Do we have to have shampoo and conditioner in one bottle to safe us the inconvenience of applying twice?  Do we really need to use plastic plates for parties because it is convenient (and environmentally bad and bad style).

A little inconvenience, I think, is well worth it.  It keeps us from getting lazy and boring, keeps us on our toes and most like more active.  But these days it seems I am pretty much alone with that view.

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