Why I Love Historical Fiction

I read a lot, over a hundred books a year. I come from a family of big readers but I have really turned it up a notch in the last few years. I can thank TV and movies being so boring and unoriginal that I have given up watching.

I love historical fiction. I cannot get enough of it. Anything that takes place in the 18th or 19th century, and even up to the early 20th century is just literary crack to me.

The reason that I love historical fiction so much is because it helps me find balance in my life. No matter how incredibly crappy my day is, I cannot complain about anything compared to someone 50, 100 or even 200 years ago. I am eternally grateful to live in an era of human rights, minimum wage laws and antibiotics. For sure things aren’t perfect. Our complicated lives are stressful and there is still much injustice in the world, but really, if you are reading this on the internet, you’ve got it mighty good.

We, I say we because I am also guilty of such thinking, are so spoiled and ungrateful. I know people don’t want to hear it but we really have very little to complain about. Oh but we do complain. We can’t wifi at the coffee shop, traffic is bad, there’s nothing on TV, Frank does not love me anymore. Blah blah blah blah blah blah.

Historical fiction has that wonderful ability to humble me and brings me down to earth. Let’s face it, in the past, if a person were lucky enough to have regular employment, the job was dangerous, physically demanding, and included long hours with little time off. And forget about a vacation. If your boss was pissed off at his wife, he could fire you for no reason except that the Mrs. burned his toast or the maid refused his advances in the pantry this morning.

Suffice to say we’ve come a long way. But have we not lost something? Today minor, trivial things make us angry, no wait, mad, as in insane, and not just a little mad but epic meltdown mad. You know like the bus was two minutes late and the vending machine ran out of Mars bars and I really really really wanted a Mars bar and there are no friggin’ Mars bars and why is life so hard and OMFG it sucks!

A long time ago people suffered real hardships, they often worked hard, still went to bed hungry and retired for the night in some sort of cold, damp, and crowded shelter. And then they got up and did it all over again. Sometimes it was just basic human survival and sometimes it was to provide for a family. Either way, there was a considerable amount of mental toughness to live this way.

Naturally I don’t think we need to return to this lifestyle but I do think there is a lesson buried somewhere in how the fictional characters of Alice the maid or David the labourer lived their lives. The storylines in historical fiction always remind me of the quiet dignity of people who perhaps were not always happy but were at least grateful. I will always admire the Alices and Davids because they were wise enough to realize the value of a hot meal and a warm bed.

The Crutch of Tech Support

Weeeeeeellllllllllll, either you’re closing your eyes
To a situation you do now wish to acknowledge
Or you are not aware of the caliber of disaster indicated
By the presence of a 1 800 number.
Ya got trouble, my friend, right here,
I say, trouble right here in Circuit Board City!

Ladies and gentlemen there is a menace, a scourge out there ready to destroy any vestige of intelligence, common sense and self reliance we still seem to possess.

I speak of the crutch of tech support.

That’s right technical support. If there is one modern amenity that has done more to damage the fabric of society, it’s technical support.

But wait. Isn’t technical support there to help us master the never-ending influx of technology that is bombarding us at every moment in our modern lives?

Nope. We just fix broken shit.

Tech support is NOT there to help you master the never-ending influx of technology that is bombarding us at every moment in our modern lives.  YOU are to master the never-ending influx of technology that is bombarding us at every moment in our modern lives.

Wait a minute. That does not sound right?

I work in tech support and frankly I hate you. I know that does not seem nice but truth be told, I hate you because you call. And then you call us again. And again, and again, again until we wish we could set you on fire just to get you to shut the fuck up.

Well that seems harsh?

Let us go back in time for a bit. To the days of yore.

The days of yore 200, 100 even 50 years ago there was no tech support to help you use something. You just had to figure it out.

If you had a cow and you did not know how to milk a cow you either a) figured it out b)  watch your poor cow die a horrible and painful death.   And you certainly did not call 1 800 MY COW IS DEAD WHAT DO I DO NOW? to demand a free replacement cow because you killed your cow due to your own stupidity and incompetence. Instead you had to deal with a dead rotting cow, you are out 2£ or what ever a cow cost and you have no milk and now your children will grow up with brittle bones because you sir, are a dumb ass!

That’s the crutch of technical support. Nobody wants to learn. Nobody wants to be self-sufficient anymore. Nobody wants to take responsibility for his or her own action.

Calling tech support starts off innocently enough, a simple question about your wireless connection or printer. But then like any vice it’s escalates into dependence.

The first sign of tech support dependence is lack of common sense

“I want to change my email password.”
Okay, I will have to verify the account.”
“Why?”
“We can’t make changes to the account without passing security. It’s for your own protection. Do you have your account number or user ID?”
“No. Why are you hasslin’ me?”

BECAUSE COMMON SENSE DICTATES WE HAVE TO MAKE SURE YOU ARE YOU AND NOT SOME CRAZY TRYING TO HACK SOMEONE’S EMAIL ACCOUNT.

The second sign of tech support dependence is reluctance to learn anything.

Back to the days or yore, (and even today) you would never buy a car and then call GM or Toyota and expect them to teach you to drive over the phone. You would take driving lessons before climbing behind the wheel of your car and heading onto the highway.   The same thing applies to the computer. I know it’s easy to call someone and have them cater to your every whim but really the fact of life in this modern world is that you have to learn new stuff. If you don’t like, it don’t buy new stuff. And it’s not like it’s hard to learn the new stuff. You can read the manual, you can go to the website, you can buy a book you can hire a tutor you can use google to learn. The only reason why you refuse to learn anything is that you are lazy and the crutch is always available 24/7.

So why rant about the crutch of tech support?

Because eventually like every industry, the way technical support is offered, will change. It’s a difficult, emotional exhausting and low paying job. Here’s why

  • customers yell at you.  You have to spend a lot of time just calming them down.
  • customers constantly interrupt you.
  • people who don’t know what they are talking about tell you how to do your job
  • some people are just rude because they can get away with it
  • customers call you for help because they don’t know to fix the issue but then they want to argue or challenge every single troubleshooting step.
  • these jobs are low paying

Nobody wants to make a career out of it. Companies have to outsource this type of work because operating a 24/7 call centre is very expensive and the only people who are even willing to put up with the chronic bullshit are people in poor countries. Even with outsourced call centres, the employee turnover is high. You will almost always get someone who is new, inexperienced and that person will make mistakes.

I cannot see technical support getting better, only worse. And one day you may have to pay for it.

But there is hope!  You can throw away the crutch of tech support. It’s easy.  Get off your lazy ass and pick up a book and figure it out. Not only do you avoid the stress and hassle of calling tech support you can actually feel the sense of pride associated with mastering a new skill.

And then go out the barn and milk your cow.