When it comes to the devices, machines, furniture, and other consumer products that we use every day, few of us gives any thought to how these things work. But why would we when our cars, iPhones, laptops, dresser drawers, closet doors, living room recliners, and other possessions function properly most of the time? We push the buttons, pull the levers, turn the key, and turn the knobs and seldom do they fail.
Even if the occasion arises when something does fail, we usually return it, hire someone to fix it, or replace it. Few of us take the time to figure out what led to the malfunction. Although the problem might have been as simple as loose nylon nuts, off track swivel casters, a cracked plastic washer, or loose industrial handles, nobody really takes the time to appreciate the minute interworkings of our stuff.
It is interesting that most of our possessions work like they should 99 percent of the time. Yet, many of us complain if the slightest thing malfunctions. But the fact is that plastic screws break, industrial handles come loose from their hinges, and sliding locks jam.
However, if people would take the time, it is easy to fix the concealed hinges of our kitchen drawers and bathroom doors; and nylon nuts are used on things that are taken apart so frequently they are designed for easy replacement. In the meantime, they would learn how things work, and probably have a greater appreciation of the ingenuity that goes into the design of their possessions.
When Seibert Chestnutt invented the swivel caster to navigate wheeled machinery in 1920, he probably did not do it to garner public praise. Chances are he had an idea, felt it was useful, and figured that he could make money from it. Although millions of grocery shoppers use his invention each day as they steer their shopping carts through crowded American supermarkets, you would be lucky to find one who knows his name.
The point is that we take so much for granted that we do not stop to appreciate the little things that people do to make our lives easier. But many will not hesitate to complain when normal wear and tear causes a little plastic nut to break. While we may not be the ones spending our days hauling machinery with industrial handles, we all could enrich ourselves by taking a few moments to appreciate the many things we take for granted.