Every once in a while, someone writes an article comparing the way things were, with the way things are. Usually, this happens at the end of the year. I got to thinking the other day about what it would be like if, for some strange reason, I “blinked out” 20 or 30 years ago, and suddenly “blinked back” in today. Wow! The more I thought about it, the more my mind reeled at the idea of trying to “catch up”. I’m not sure I could.
So I started a list of things that “were”, and on the other side of the page, the things that “are”. After three pages, I stopped, realizing that I’d never be able to list all that has changed. What if I “blinked out” today and “blinked back” just ten years in the past? Would I be able to cope without all of today’s conveniences? Probably would be the same, mind-boggling thing, only in reverse. Adapting backwards would be like trying to not reach for the light switch, when the power lines have gone down. Or not reaching for the water faucet, when the water’s been turned off. I considered, then quickly decided not to complicate things with a list of the way things “are” and the way things “might maybe someday be”. Because things are changing, exponentially, and there’s no way to even imagine what might maybe someday be. Better not go there; my brain doesn’t have the capacity.
1. bottle openers, nailed to the wall v. twist off/pop-off caps
2. milk that came in glass bottles with paper pull-off tops v. plastic milk bottles, twist-off caps
3. telephone party-lines v. private phone lines
4. “Dials” on telephones were really dials v. push-button/voice command “dial”
5. long-distance operators v. dial “1″, then the number
6. calculators, typewriters v. computers, laptops, Ipads, tablets, notebooks
7. shorthand v. computer voice dictation/transcription
8. busy signal v. voicemail or call-forwarding
9. carbon paper, mimeograph (remember the smell?) v. scanners, printers
10. secretary v. desk
11. filing cabinets with real paper files v. ”C” drive, or save to disc
12. car key v. FOB
13. hotel key v. key card
14. gasoline: 0.25/gallon v. gasoline: 3.85/gallon
15. bread: 10 loaves/$1 on special v. bread: $3/loaf
16. no seat belts v. seat belts required by law
17. Friday afternoon bank lines v. automatic deposit
18. cash from bank teller v. ATM withdrawal
19. check deposit at bank v. photo-scan, ATM deposit
20. handwritten checks, mailed payments v. online banking, billpay
21. dress up to see doctor, fly on airplane v. the more casual, the better
22. women wore hats and gloves when going out v. only if gardening or fishing
23. chopping knives & graters v. food processors et. al
24. go directly to flight gate at airport v. publicly strip & walk through scanners, be liberally frisked, pass through several security check points. ”No non-ticketed passengers beyond this point” signs. “You may not return to terminal if you go beyond this line”, signs.
25. kids, infants sat on someone’s lap in-car v. car seats & booster seats required by law
26. cash, checks v. debit, credit cards
27. one credit card: Bankamericard v. I can’t count how many different cards are out there
28. Brownie, box cameras v. digital cameras/video/phones
29. surgeons did surgery v. Robosurgery
30. your own doctor saw you in the hospital v. a stranger called a hospitalist saw you
31. telephone customer service with a real person to talk to v. Are you kidding?
32. no highway barriers v. plastic cone, grass island, or concrete barriers to separate opposite-direction lanes
33. corporations were proud to stamp “Made in USA” on products v. corporations brag to stockholders about jobs being outsourced, and stamping “Made in China; et al” on their products
34. 8-track players, vinyl records, transistor radios, record players v. digital music
35. movie theaters v. VHS, DVD, HD DVD, DVR
36. wait for advertisements to go to the bathroom when watching tv program v. DVR, pause
37. blackboard, chalk, erasers v. whiteboards, laptops
38. film projectors v. Power Point
39. mail with postage stamps that you licked v. email, text message
40. 5 television channels v. hundreds of local, cable and satellite channels
41. coffee pot v. drive-thru vendors on every corner, dispensing hundreds of types coffee drinks
42. books, stacks, libraries v. internet, search engines
43. “friends”: people you saw & liked & talked with face to face v. social networks on the internet
44. bound books, paperbacks v. e-books
45. 1-hour photo shops, drug stores where you dropped off your photo film cartridges v. digital camera, photo shop (for those you wanted to “touch up” before printing/sending/posting)
46. phone booths on every corner v. cell phones
47. hardbound photo albums with those triangular black “stickies” to hold pics in corners v. digital memory albums
48. wood-burning fireplaces for heat v. electric fireplaces for atmosphere
49. face cream v. Botox
50. rouge (which was usually lipstick, rubbed in) v. powder blush
51. mascara v. eyelash extensions
52. make-up v. cosmetic surgery
53. chemistry sets for kids had real mercury to “play” with!! v. I’m not sure
54. Wonderbread was awesome v. white bread will kill you (?)
55. meals on airlines v. bring your own if you want it, ‘cuz we’re not here to feed you
56. drive-in theaters with speakers that hooked to your car window v. get a DVD and watch it in your bedroom with your own surround sound
57. Saturday afternoon theater matinée: $0.75 v. Saturday afternoon theater matinée: $10.00
58. clothes lines in every backyard v. clothes what?
59. Home Economics required for all girls v. Home what?
60. girls had to wear dresses or skirts–no pants–to school, and hose or stockings v. just cover the obvious areas
61. legally, employers could ask on job applications: marital status, are you planning to have children, do you have children, are you on birth control (no kidding!), age, race/ethnicity v. I have no “v” for this one~~ except there are those who would like to go back to that!
62. birth control pills weren’t legal in all states until 1965, and in one state (Connecticut, I think), birth control pills were illegal unless used by married couples v. see above comment re: there are those who would like to go back to that!
63. sun “bathing” v. spray-on tan parlors
64. a suntan is a sign of health v. UV rays will kill you, hence the spray-on tan parlors
So that’s what I came up with in about an hour or two. I’m sure you can think of more! If you can, write them up and add them in “comment”! I’d love to hear and be reminded of other “the way things were”.
©Janet Mitchell, October 2011