Once an object is created, it is contained in what Adobe Illustrator calls a "bounding box". By selecting an edge of a bounding box, a shape can easily be resized simply by dragging. There is no need to use the scale tool, or free transform. Can it be that easy? Why yes, that's why I like it so much.
Unfortunately, there is a bit of a mistake that Illustrator has in one of the more commonly-used shortcuts, that is, turning off grouping. As you know, to group a set of objects, the shortcut is command-G, and to ungroup it is shift-command-G. But if you accidentally hit shift-command-B, which is easy to do, you have disabled "show bounding box". I've only done this a couple of times in all of the years I've been using Adobe Illustrator, and it took me quite a while to figure out why objects were not resizing by dragging, and I was not seeing the bounding box.
I am reminded of an old "Far Side" cartoon where the button for "wings fall off, wings stay on" in the plane is easily hit by accident on the passenger armrest. This is one of those cases. If it were up to me, there wouldn't be a shortcut to turn off "show bounding box".
I don't know why they do this kind of stuff, but they do. Anyway, I love Adobe Illustrator, and if you're spending hours struggling with Photoshop trying to do this stuff, I'm done - and at lunch.