How Lazy Are We?

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While I was riding yesterday I was seeing a lot of things that makes me wonder how lazy we have become.

First, I was riding through a neighborhood and saw a woman get into her SUV.  She was putting a pillow into her back and it had an automatic opener.  So, she was standing there as the rear was slowly going up.  She threw the small pillow into the back, pushed the remote and the back started back down.

It got me thinking about how much we pay for luxury, or really, how much we expect to have luxury.  I don’t really understand this automatic everything.

Let’s just look at cars.  It is nearly impossible to buy a new car with manual windows nowadays. I just replaced an automatic window opener in my van.  It wasn’t that expensive, doing it myself, but I would just as well be not replacing it.  Are we so lazy that we can’t turn our arms around in a few circles every one in a while to open and shut our car windows?  Seems like it since automatic windows are the standard now.  Same with door locks.  Or automatic doors, or seat adjusters.  All these things take energy, from gasoline, and they add weight to the car, which takes gasoline to move.  So, it reality, we’re happy paying extra for all these “luxuries”.

Same with lawn mowers.  I hardly see anyone mowing their own lawns in many neighborhoods. And when I do, the majority of the mowers are either self-propelled or riding.  People just walking behind their mowers as the mowers drag themselves across the grass.  Really, it isn’t that hard to push a lawn mower.  Maybe for older people, I can understand.  But, it not like you hardly ever see anyone using a real push mower.  My next door neighbor, who is 87, mows her lawn with an actual push mower, like non gasoline.  It is a pretty big yard and she is pretty incredible.  If she can do it with a manual mower, then the rest of us should be able to push a gas mower around.

And at the grocery stores.  All the stores are adding more and more electric carts so people can drive around the aisles and not walk.  I do understand that there are a few people who actually need these to shop.  But the majority of people I see using them walk into the store, get in the cart, shop and then walk back out of the store.  And most are pretty big, like fat big.   It would probably do them good to walk a little while shopping.

I could go on and on here.  We pay for these conveniences.   People don’t even look at the window sticker of a car and think, man, I could save $3000 if my car didn’t have automatic doors and adjustable seats.   If there was a stack of hundred-dollar bills sitting in the front seat of your car one day, like 30 of them and all of a sudden it was just manual doors and you had to slide back and forth to adjust you seat, would you take the money or leave it the same?  I would probably hate the answer most people would give to that question.

I saw this guy yesterday throw his cigarette on the ground, lit still, right before he went into a Starbucks.  This is pretty common, I guess, by all the cigarette butts lying around everywhere.  I don’t understand why it became okay to do this.  I see it all the time out riding.  People just throwing lit cigarettes out their car windows when they are done.  I remember seeing both the driver and passenger of a car do that at a stop light once, one car in front of a police car. Nothing happened.  Pretty much makes it legal if no body enforces it or says anything.   It is just laziness not wanting to put the cigarette out and put it where it belongs, in the trash.

Anyway, it doesn’t take that much more energy to do things the “non-lazy way”.   When the automation goes bad, which in invariably does, it takes a bunch of time to fix it.  Like my car window.  I had to order the part, disassemble the car door, install the opener and put it all back together.  It cost money and time.  Plus, someone, maybe me to a certain extent, paid for this convenience up front.  And it wasn’t cheap.

Sometimes it is just better using the manual hedge clippers.  There is a certain zen surrounding sculpting a bush with hedge clippers.  And this is just an analogy of lots of things in our lives that are better the more simple they are.  Automation sometimes leads to frustration and extra work.  Not to mention it, many times, reeks of laziness.   That is not a good thing.

Maybe use a pair of these soon.   It would probably make you feel good.

Maybe use a pair of these soon. It would probably make you feel good.

59 thoughts on “How Lazy Are We?

  1. Wildcat

    Ha! This ought to be good.

    I’m a member of a duck hunting club. When we get together it never ceases to amaze me how fat all of the guys are. Sometimes I stick out my belly in order to feel like they won’t judge me for being so fit.

  2. Bill E

    Amen, brother. I think about this all the time, and it continually disgusts me how lazy some people have become. People think it’s making things simpler, but in the end it all complicates stuff, and just costs more money, that you have you work more for. Everyone should have to spend time in smaller third world type countries and see how so many people live simplistically, and are plenty happy.

  3. Franz

    Occasionally when I am stopped at a light on my bicycle someone will drop their cigarette butt on the street and I will pick it up and throw it back in there car. I try to get it in the back seat to inconvenience them. I never say a word to them. I should probably stop because I am just giving cyclists a bad name.

  4. sam

    Wouldn’t DI2 derailers fit into this category? Last I remember you were riding those…

  5. Bryan

    I’ve lost count on the number of times I’ve been hit when a passing car rider threw a lit butt out the window. Many minor burns. We used to “police walks” in the military – a fancy way to say go outside and pick up trash. I didn’t mind those, but I absolutely refused to pick up discarded cigarette butts and packages. Let the smokers pick that stuff up.

  6. Christian Davenport

    What I find amusing is the behavior of people when parking their vehicles at my local YMCA….The parking lot wraps around the building, but the member entrance is on the east side. People would rather park in the grass in the front yard, which is a closer walk to the front door, than park in an actual parking spot that is maybe 100 steps further from the entrance. And these people are presumably going to the Y to exercise?

  7. timm

    Electric windows and locks, arguably, are a safety feature. Up until a few years ago, our fieldwork trucks were completely manual. Ever tried to roll down a manual passenger-side window on a full-size pickup from the drivers seat, while driving?

  8. Nancy

    Not having to change shift cables and worry about gear adjustment is the DI2 bonus!

    Would not say that Steve is lazy because of that. Often, people that need exercises the most are doing less.

  9. david ferguson

    Steve your comments are right on the mark,if we had to live like they did 100 years ago,what than?
    I like to go to Big Bend in south Texas,just to disconnect.No cell service,no TV,no internet,etc.
    Just you and the stars and the big open sky. Fergybikes

  10. Dave King


    Couldn’t agree more. Out here in California, however, what you’re saying flies in the face of everything Silicon Valley is doing/creating where automation, digitalization, onlinization, etc is the pinnacle, the goal of any endeavor. You’ll get a lot of strange looks around here if you wax poetic using a broom instead of a blower outside (don’t even start on that one!), cook your food instead of ordering from a restaurant, cut your own hair instead of going to a $75 hair stylist, etc. Even mention of a blog is met with “is blogging still a thing?”

  11. timm

    I live in the desert. But I have a RES-Q-ME Tool within reach in every vehicle. Primarily for the seatbelt cutter.

  12. Henrik

    ” I remember seeing both the driver and passenger of a car do that at a stop light once, one car in front of a police car. Nothing happened. ”

    they were busy checking their phones or car computer. who doesn’t do it these days?

  13. Steve Tilford Post author

    VCScribe-I’d be the first to admit that I use a disproportional amount of gasoline to travel. Other than that, I think I’m on the far extreme of energy conservation. And what does DIY have to do with carbon footprint? I can’t really correlate any exclusive or complementary definitions of the two. Most farmers are DIY’ers, and they have a huge, like gigantic carbon footprint.

  14. tippycup

    Im a Trooper over here in Washington. While instructing new cadets out on the drive course I had one pull up next to me preparing for the next lap. I looked over and gave him the international roll your window down sign. Kid had no idea what I was asking him to do!! Sad.

  15. gehry

    I’m totally with you on this. DI2 shifting is lazy-ass shit. You aren’t the one shifting. You’re telling a machine to do it for you. It is totally contrary to the basic principles of bike racing.

  16. Jacque Meihauf

    Ok Mr. Crusader here’s what you can personally do to make a real life statement. First, instead of merely complaining about all the cigarette butts, why not pick them up yourself and then dispose of them? It would be very easy to fashion a tool to use so that you don’t even have to bend over.

    Second, instead of slamming some unknown woman for using her hatch, maybe you should first find out if it is even possible to use it manually. It’s possible she didn’t have a choice. Go and ask her.

    Third, get rid of your titanium bikes and instead use bikes made of a ferrous metal (steel) that degrades over time and will eventually disappear.

    Fourth, your bike components. Practice what you preach and go back to cable operated downtube shifters. There are less parts overall and less parts made from toxic materials (batteries and plastics). As a benefit, you won’t have to use a wall socket or a USB port to help power your cycling. While you’re at it, ditch your Garmin, too. Every time you go riding, you have a cell phone that needs charging, a Garmin that needs charging, and a Shimano shift system that needs charging. Unless your house runs on solar or hydro power, you’re not much of a “green” guy.

    And so on and so forth.

  17. ME

    I’m the director of a Y and we had a similar problem. Parents were pulling their cars up to the edge of the field so they could sit in them and watch the games. I put up a split rail fence around all our fields to force them to use the lot.

  18. MS

    I have a neighbor across the road who drives her kids to the school less than a football length from our houses.

    Neighbor on my other side uses a golf cart to go check their mail. She’s probably 300+ pounds and he’s skinny but doesn’t ride the golf cart except for fun. Their grown daughter who is another neighbor has taken up the golf cart to check her mail and go take the kids to see Gma and Gpa just across the road. Like 100 feet.

    Never ceases to amaze me they are not even embarrassed by this extreme laziness.

  19. G

    I don’t know about that hair stylist bit. I am an early employee at a pre-IPO startup with a billion+ valuation. Lots of guys I know cut their own hair, myself included. It’s faster than going out and paying somebody to do it.

  20. Jon H

    What a colosally stupid thing to do! You are risking their vehicle catching fire and that could result in massive property damage. Worst of all, you could injure or kill the people in the car as a direct result of your idiotic actions. The vehicle could catch fire or the driver could lose control when a cigarette obstructs his or her vision.

    You would be liable and criminally responsible. You okay with that?

  21. olmowebb

    What in the article had to do with being “green” or environmentalism? Even the part about cars weighing more and using more fuel had more to do with people willing to spend more money for convenience.

    Steve’s article was about laziness, people not willing to move their bodies to do a simple task. Even with Di2, you still have to move the levers to shift, it doesn’t do it for you. If that’s lazy, then even cable actuated shifting is lazy. Get off your bike and flip the wheel like in the old days.

    Read the blog again without the anti-Steve bias.

  22. Peter

    The level of laziness really is amazing in this country. I think I’m the only guy on my street who mows his own lawn. Everyone else pays $50 a pop for a lawn service to do it. It takes me all of 45 minutes. My neighbor next door has a 20-something son who still lives at home. Does he mow the grass? One neighbor down the street said they bought a mower and were going to do it themselves to get some exercise. I’m thinking “exercise”? Hell I do it after riding my bike 17 miles home, mostly uphill, from work in the evening. They didn’t last a month.

    Is my mower self propelled? Yes it is. I looked for a non-motorized one when the last one bit the dust and couldn’t find one, except for really chinzey mowers with tiny engines. They’ve gone the way of cars. I bet you could still find a car with a crank window. I bet you wouldn’t want to own it.

  23. Bryan

    Yes. Why would you think I am fibbing? The lit end of a cigarette hitting your exposed arms, legs, chest and/or face is going to burn.

  24. Bryan

    Mythbusters covered that territory. It is close to impossible to open the door or even roll down a window (manual or not) once the car is underwater, due to pressure differentials. Just let the car fill up, and then the door will open pretty easily. Basic physics.

  25. gehry

    I’ve said this before… I wish there was a racing category for bikes with no carbon, using friction-based downtube shifting. You make your own shifts. No ratchets or clicks to guide you. No telemetry allowed either. No radios, HRMs etc. Just you, a bike and your brain. That’s it.

  26. Jeff D.

    I just don’t get all the negative Steve comments, I mostly agree with what Steve is saying, The DI2 comments are just plain stupid, If you really think that, you need to go back to a 5 speed because your lazy by using easer gears climbing up hill (lol), might not want to lube your chain for the same reason. One thing Steve said that I’ve thought about before, are they riding the cart because they’re fat, or are they fat because their disabled and have to ride the cart? Oh and the green/ footprint stuff, come on, I Just wish I had the time/money/connections to be able to go and ride at all the cool events Steve does. and bet most of ya’ll do to..

  27. Jacque Meihauf

    Thanks for your input Olmo. I read the blog post and I understand it. As a rule, the lazier we become, the less green we become. I was making the point that we, Tilly included, are too reliant on lazy and non green ways of life. Very hard to separate the two, but in some cases they can be separated. I’ll give you that.

    I have no anti-Tilly bias whatsoever. He wrote the post, so he takes the heat. Anyway, it looks a little hippocritical to judge someone on her using modern auto technology when you are riding around on a ti bike, with a Garmin, and Di2 components. The ti frame, the Garmin and the Di2 stuff can all be labelled lazy and non-green. As a matter of record, I am in agreement with Tilford on all his other points contained therein.

  28. you're showing your age now steve

    You are now getting to that “get off my lawn” age. Yes you can mow your own lawn, you can manually roll up your windows, and cars have trunks that open automatically. Call it idiocracy or technology getting cheaper. Being able to roll my windows up and down without me stretching across the seats not only is great, but it’s also a safety thing as well. I remember in my youth how I’d have to reach across and veer into lanes and stuff while trying to roll up my windows when it started to rain/get cold/hot etc. Like the other guy mentioned above. Most cars these days that’s all standard. So yeah If i am walking out with 6 bags (recycled of course) of groceries and all i have to do is wave my foot under the bumper and the trunk opens, then by all means I want that technology. I love it. Now if i could only get something to automatically shift my bike for me just by clicking my lever instead of having to push the lever to actuate a cable… That would be freaking sweet. I also wish i could get these kids off my lawn. Oh and Astana is still doping..

  29. ScottO

    “We pay for these conveniences.” We sure do.

    And butts are trash. Plain and simple.

  30. Jim

    A couple of weeks ago I drove an RV across the country to be at the Tour of California.
    A couple of observations.

    Americans are beyond fat. In fact, obese might be an understatement.

    There are Cross Fit studios EVERYWHERE. I saw a dozen of them in one day just driving by on freeways. I think they must be the CB radio shops or pager shops of the 2000’s. Two years and they will all be gone.

  31. Bill K

    I’m a lazy guy. I admit it.
    For years, I drove crappy old cars with roll up windows, and no AC. Bought push gas mowers, and lived life on the cheap. I even bought used bikes, worked on them myself, and built my own wheels.
    I still ride and race on the cheap (aluminum box rims), but splurged on a “fancy man” car.

    PS. manual window regulators crap out, too.

  32. Christian Davenport

    I think another behavior that I believe is on the increase that could be attributed to laziness is the idiotic practice of keeping your vehicle running when filling up with gasoline. Static electricity and gasoline vapor do not mix. Maybe it’s more of a general softening onf the American public…..Lord forbid someone have to stand outside of their air conditioned vehicle and sweat or get chilled for a few minutes while fueling up.

  33. H Luce

    When farmers plow under their stubble at the end of harvest, they sequester carbon, which significantly reduces their carbon footprint. It’s cattle ranchers who have the big carbon footprint, all those cattle turning grass into methane…

  34. H Luce

    I vastly prefer my Armstrong garage door opener to the electric kind; after stripping out two plastic worm gears in five years, I gave up on that, and just use a hasp and padlock for the outside. The power can go out, and i can still open my garage door. And I mow half an acre of lawn with a non-self-propelled push mower, as well as mulching and clearing brush. I prune trees with a hand saw – Corona folding – a great saw. On the other hand, I use a gas-powered chipper shredder, and a sawzall with 12 inch demolition blade to cut out roots and other larger projects. And at least Steve isn’t flying to these races and helping to disperse tons of CO2 at high altitude, where it persists for years.

  35. gehry

    I once had a beautiful Olmo Competition HF. Gold paint with chrome. Pantographed Campy crank, stem, brakes, seatpost and shift levers. I miss it so much!

  36. Terry

    Riding up a climb in western Poland last year and I saw a forester using a draft horse to pull logs out of the wood. I asked him about it, and he had pretty a simple answer for me, gasoline is expensive and he’s already got the horse. I’ve been coming to Poland for 10 years, and can remember using a scythe for the first time the first time I came. Just this year started seeing weed whackers, and even today saw a guy doing a section of tall grass near a stream with one. I swear I could have taken it out with a scythe in half the time it took him with the weed whacker. Technology has a place in a lot of applications, namely Di2 🙂 and ti-bikes, but in other cases it may not equal any less effort x time, and actually may end up costing more.

  37. mike crum

    wish those lazy JO cops would ticket those littering cig butts instead of handing out 48 in a 40 speeding ticket.. all cops have to do is park close to an exit ramp.. tons of butts there..there are cameras everywhere so put a few of them on ramps and ticket the people littering.. there use to be signs sayin littering 25-500 fine.. i ever see these anymore..

  38. Franz

    The reason you don’t hear about people getting tickets for littering anymore is the police are to lazy to get out of their car and write a ticket. I don’t have any stats but I doubt if they give out as many speeding tickets anymore either for the same reason. It seems you have to be going really fast to get pulled over for speeding anymore or fit a profile. I am pretty sure they don’t pull people over in my town anymore for anything but OWI.

  39. Peter W. Polack

    How about people who stop their car at the end of the driveway, get out of the car while it’s idling, retreive their mail, then continue their drive up to the garage?

    This kills me.

  40. James

    Convenience (marketing) + competition (sales) = free market economy at its best (worst). FME + greed = rapid climate change. RCC + unsustainable methods of production (famine) = less consumption (pop reduction). Its all conected & isn’t going to end well.

  41. mike crum

    got a friend whos a dr.. they are lined out his office door to the sidewalk to see him to get cured..hes in the right business .$$$$$$ .. years an years of abusing their own health , and now they all want the quick cure… anit happening people..

  42. olmowebb

    Gehry, my first bike was a mid-80’s Olmo (hence the name). It’s pearl white with chrome fork, and has black Galli components that looked a lot like Campy Record of the time. Great bike, but the fork eventually cracked. Still have the bike hanging on the wall.

  43. gehry

    Olmo, I worked in a shop in San Diego. One of our brands was Olmo. Imported by a company called Bike Parts Pacific. Reed Pike was our rep from them. I remember the model of Olmo you’re referring to. Probably 1985 – 1987 era. The Galli components came in colored anodized options (as I remember), and helped get the price point down (at a time when very few racing bike brands did anything to bring the price below $1200. I remember those forks too.

    My model was 1981 or 82. It had a gorgeous gold paint and finish job. Like this one, but without a fully chromed fork (just the dropouts). The pantoraphed components are the same, though:

  44. Jeff D.

    Why the thumbs down on what Mr Crum is saying? He is exactly right, folks do horrible things to their bodies, smoke, drink too much, eat awful and on and one. Once they get sick they think there is some magic pill that can undo all the damage. It’s just sad.

  45. Wasfastnowimnot

    I am a teacher and walk or ride the 4 miles to school every morning. At the bus stops in my neighborhood there are parents who will drive their pudgy (and not so pudgy, as in obese) kids to the bus stop which is 75-150 feet from their houses. They do this regardless of weather. They sit with the cars running to keep the kids either warm or cool depending on time of year. Incredible to me. You would be shocked at the number of kids in my school of 450 who have type 2 diabetes. Its a bigger number than you might first guess. Disgusting.

  46. Jim

    In that vein, I see the same thing.
    When you talk about it, the first thing you hear is that the parents are looking out for their child’s safety. Really?? The nationwide crime statistics say otherwise. The number of children abducted on their way to or from school is amazingly tiny.
    Could it happen? Of course it can but the odds are against it.
    I guess that what bother me the most is that if the parents are really that concerned, why don’t they walk to the bus stop with the child and stand there with them? No, that would mean that they might be uncomfortable because they can’t sit on their fat butt, in their car, on their smart phone.
    IOW, we aren’t really THAT concerned about safety.
    Laziness everywhere.


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