As a child, I grew up hearing the legend of John Henry, a tireless steel-driver for the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad in the 1800s. Henry, a former slave, paved the way for new railroad lines by hitting thick steel spikes into rocks with a 14-pound hammer. He was unmatched in speed and endurance.
One day a salesman comes to camp claiming he has a steam-powered drill that could out-drill any man. A contest ensues: John Henry vs. the Steam-Powered Drill.
After a half hour of drilling, the dust settles. The automatic drill has carved a nine-foot hole into the mountain. John Henry’s hole is fourteen feet deep. The crowd cheers only to watch in horror as Henry totters on his feet then crashes to the ground. A blood vessel has burst in his brain. He’s dead.
The lesson? Be wary of dehumanizing machines that promise advancement but come at a cost. (Plus, humans do better work anyway).
Read more »