I Wish I Didn’t Know Now What I Didn’t Know Then

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Bill Sniffin
Bill Sniffin

Charles Pelkey, a state legislator and attorney in Laramie, put a story on Facebook about the pitfalls of being a grown-up adult in today’s society:

“A bit of an existential crisis: I stopped by my favorite liquor store for a bottle of wine. A couple of folks were sitting at the bar as I ordered the Pinot Noir I planned to enjoy with dinner. One of them turned to me and asked ‘are you a lawyer?’

“’Yes. Yes, I am,’ I replied, perhaps thinking I had another client in the hopper.

"Cool," said the young man, "because you LOOK like a lawyer."
WTH?! I am now officially "The MAN?!" Not "Da Man," but "the MAN."

“In my heart, I am still that 21-year-old hippy-dirt-bag many of you knew back then and, suddenly, I am The MAN?! What would 21-year-old Charles Pelkey think of that? Fifty-seven-year-old Charles Pelkey has been sent into a serious identity crisis.
What next? Will they someday tell me that I look like a politician?
Oh. Never mind.”

Pelkey’s post brought out 77 comments from people who both shared his image issues or remembered him as that 21-year old, and yes, wondered what in the heck happened to him?

But I was intrigued more by his idea of what would that 21-year old version of himself say to that 57-year old version of himself?

Sort of like the old TV commercial where a young man is visited by an older version of himself, who advises him that things are going to turn out okay and that he is on the right track.

Would that not have been great to have our future self come back in time and advise us as young people?  How many times have we all said to ourselves “if only I would have know then what I know now.”

But then if you twist all these words around, you come up with something else.  I love the following musical version of this similar line:

“I wish I didn’t know now what I didn’t know then,” are the poignant words from one of my favorite Bob Seger songs.

Perhaps another version of that “if I had only known . . .” could apply to folks driving back roads around Wyoming with these fancy new navigation systems in their cars or on their phones.

Two New York women were found driving around the desert southeast of Riverton recently when their navigation system instructed them to take a two-track road. They ended up eight miles off the Sand Draw highway before getting stranded.

Fremont County Sheriff’s officers heard about their plight and rescued them.

I assume they might have taken a road known as the Hudson-Atlantic City BLM road, which is actually pretty good.  It is gravel and can be fairly narrow and, yes, there are no convenience stores or rest areas within a great many miles.

Yet it will turn up as a real road on that navigation screen.

Same thing happened to me one time in Colorado.

I had just acquired a car with navigation and plugged in that I need to go to Montrose, CO where our daughter and grandchildren live.  It steered me halfway up this steep, snowy pass before I realized that it was a seasonal road and was closed!

After carefully backing down a ways and turning around, I learned not to be totally trusting of these new-fangled things.

Those of us who have experienced a lot of change in our lives can be excused for some times yearning back to a simpler time.  When our phones were used as telephones, for example.

Folks who fight technology today are still known as Luddites, after a 19th century man in Great Britain named Ludd who fought valiantly against the progress brought about by the invention of various machines that reduced labor and improved efficiency.

Lately I have been doing historical research in Wyoming and our early history of underground coal mines sure has its share of awful tragedies.

One mine disaster near Hanna killed 169 men while another near Kemmerer killed 99.

Men were literally taking their lives into their hands when they ventured down into the underground mines.

Photos from back then showed men whose faces were completely black.  Many photos show them carrying their pails of beer, which usually was much safer to drink down in the mines than the local water that was available.

Yes, we have made progress. Thankfully.

Please “like” Wyoming Books and Columns by Bill Sniffin on Facebook. Other information available at http://www.billsniffin.com and http://www.wyomingwonders.com. Sniffin is a long-time Wyoming journalist and lives in Lander.

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