I have a hard time choosing favorites in anything, books, movies, music, whatever. However, if I were put to the gun, I’d have to say that the original Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is probably my favorite book of all time. There’s just something in the way that Douglas Adams writes, his playful, but commanding, way with words, taking sentences in ways that make sense, but aren’t what you expect.
Sure, it’s generally a great deal of absurdist humor, but it’s intelligent absurdist humor. Not just the “they use a U when they spell color” type of intelligent, but honestly thoughtful expositions on things most people wouldn’t even spend much time thinking about. . . all for a joke.
I was reminded of this today as I was going about my work day. You see, I’m often asked to do incredibly simple things merely because people don’t know how to use a computer. This serves me well, technically, as it makes me appear to be a genius when I do things of any sort. However, as I completed the task today, I was reminded of a quote by the book’s depressed android, Marvin.
“Brain the size of a planet, and they ask me to take you to the bridge.”
I’ve always connected with Marvin, even since my first reading of the book. There was just something about his honest depression about his lot in life that make him the most relatable character in the series to me. And he’s static. Throughout the series of books, he ages millions and millions of years, but absolutely nothing changes about him. . . well, outside of losing a leg and getting a replacement and some minor little things, but when it comes down to the definition of Marvin, he’s still the same.
Now, I’m not trying to say that I have a brain the size of a planet. Marvin’s intelligence greatly surpasses mine. Hell, I’m not even the smarter than many I consider friends. But, when day in and day out I am given tasks that are well beneath my capabilities. . . menial tasks. . . I can’t help but go to Marvin to help me understand why my job depresses me so much.
There is so much I would be able to do for the company that employs me, yet because of inabilities to have anyone take over the smaller tasks that fall under my general job description, I am stuck doing incredibly simple stupid things. I’m not making things better. . . I’m just pushing buttons for people who are too afraid to do so, dictating words into a website form they are too confused to know how to use.
So, Marvin, I understand where you’re coming from. I may not have the issue nearly as bad as you do, but I know what it’s like to be underutilized.
Of course, if Marvin were to look at me from afar, the best I could hope for as his response would be something similar to the quote I’ll leave you with.
“The best conversation I had was over forty million years ago…. And that was with a coffee machine.”