Yesterday I was driving to work and eating an apple. For the first time in my nearly 37 years, I wondered, “Who puts the little stickers on all the apples?”
Who puts them on and when do they put them on? Do harvesters apply stickers as the apples are picked off the tree? Does someone at the apple depot apply stickers to all the bushels and pecks that come in from the orchards? Does a team ride in the back of the apple truck and sticker the fruit as it’s in transit across the country?
I drove for miles imagining how the stickers are printed (sheets or rolls?), how they are applied (how about gloves that apply stickers from the fingertips?), and who is best fruit sticker in the world (and do his co-workers call him Johnny Applestick?). I hurled myself toward my office at 65 miles per hour, simultaneously keeping my primary care physician at bay for yet another 24 hours and blissfully entangling myself in a web of imagination and a mystery that I had never considered.
Then, I did it. I parked my truck and walked into my office. I logged in, opened an internet browser, and searched for the answer. And it did not spark joy. Google did not show me industrious migrants with leathered hands and pure smiling faces. Google did not show me fertile orchards in Washington or illuminate a niche community in the apple industry.
Google showed me machines in factories. Belts and robotic arms and soulless sensors whirling apples past an automated sticker applicator. Google took my imagined utopia and utterly decimated it with a brief but informative YouTube video. My inquest did not enhance or impel my imagination. Rather than improve my intelligence, the reality I encountered on the internet inhibited my very humanity.
Knowledge may indeed be power, but sometimes—aye, this time!—ignorance is bliss.
May 4, 2019