Last Monday, the completely expected/unexpected event happened: my car battery died.
I did not suspect it at first - I thought I had somehow managed to kill the car remote again. It was only when I got in the car and tried to turn it over and was met with dead silence that I thought perhaps something else was up. No lights, no, "click click" of a dying battery, nothing.
I got out, popped open the hood, got into the battery case and then went for the jumper cables (Public Service Announcement: opening a trunk with a keyless entry when the battery is dead = circus act). I hooked the cables up to the van, turned the van on, and then tried again. Nothing. I readjusted the cables on my battery once, twice, thrice. Not a peep.
Great. I need a new battery.
Grabbed the socket set. Four nuts and some pushing around in the engine compartment (Mazda engine compartments are none too roomy to work in) I had the battery out. A trip to my local Big Box store and battery in hand, I returned and reassembled the battery and car. Total time. About an hour. I even had time on my way to work to reset all of my radio stations.
The point of this story is not particularly that I could do it - it is the moment that I realized I knew how to do it.
I am lucky. I great up in a time where such things were possible and expected and had a father and father-in-law skilled enough to teach me these things. I often take that for granted - except I fear that I currently know any number of people to whom this would seem a mystical act or all day event.
I could be acting overdramatically as I often do, but it occurs to me that we are losing certain kinds of knowledge at a quickly increasing rate - not the sort of knowledge of science and technology (which is always growing) but the knowledge of how to do basic mechanical and general living tasks like cooking, caring for, making by hand, or fixing.
We are currently exchanging our ability to function independently for a cornucopia of knowledge that comes attached to a dependence on technology that we can neither understand nor control nor (for most of us) recreate. It worries me a bit what happens if and when that technology fails.