The Best of Andy Rooney

The inventions of mankind are amazing. I'm sitting here looking at my desk and there are dozens of great inventions I can reach from my chair. Some of them seem simple enough, but how did they get that lead to fit so perfectly in my pencil? The light on my desk goes on and off with the press of a button. I rolled to the office this morning on the four wheels of my car, driven by its powerful motor, burning gas I keep in the tank that was sucked up from the ground.

There's no reason to be modest about what we've accomplished, especially in the field of transportation.

The first car is said to have been invented by Carl Benz around 1885. I drive to work every day and use my car to pick up groceries at the store and to go away on weekends. Life wouldn't be the same without it. The car is sitting out on the street now, waiting for me to leave. I can't get over how little trouble our cars are, considering how vital they are to us.

There are half a dozen things in my life that I'd like to remember and can't, but the cars I've owned over the years I do remember.

Railroad track laid down across America must have seemed like the ultimate transportation invention in the 1800s, but now cars and the airplane have made rail travel seems antiquated. Other than commuters, I think most people only take the train when where they're going is too close to fly to, or they don't own a car.

I've used a lot of different types of transportation in my life and I've liked all of them. The first was a three-wheeled Ivor Johnson tricycle I got for Christmas when I was five. I've received some great Christmas presents but none better than that.

When I was older, my parents bought me a two-wheeled bicycle. My bike was the big seller in those days, an Indian. Every day, I rode it about a mile and a half to school and then home. I got to know every hill and bump in the road, and my Indian never failed me. It had what they called a 29-inch wheel. I think 29 inches refers to the diameter of the wheels.

People were no more honest then than they are now, but all of us left our bikes by the side of the school building and none of them were ever stolen. If someone had stolen a bike, there was really nowhere to go with it. The thief certainly couldn't bring it to school.

I've always been amazed that two-wheeled bicycles are so stable. I rode my bike for 10 years in all sorts of weather and don't ever recall falling. In London, during World War II, I rode to the office on Fleet Street every day on a bicycle, and it was a great, cheap way to get around. Bicycles are also cheap and easy to park.

The best time I ever had, transportation-wise, was when I took a helicopter trip around the country for a CBS special. The Segway, introduced in 2001, was also a great invention. I rode one at a car show in New York City years ago.

Of course, wings would beat all of the above. I wish someone would invent a personal flying machine that would pick me up every morning and take me to work.

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