EASY DOES IT
The following is intended mostly for mature audiences able to recall life “back then”, and who are thus in a position to testify as to how much it has “improved”, or at least become more convenient. We’re talking not about monumental, game changing innovations viz. robots, cloning, self-driving cars, “amazing” apps, but rather more mundane developments that together, “old timers” will agree, altered the quality of their lives. Here’s what’s likely to come to mind.
- Long-distance telephone calls once were epic events. Everything, everyone stopped as the party being called rushed to the phone while everyone present wondered and worried who it might be. That’s because such communications were relatively rare and therefore assumed to be important, maybe even urgent. Thus, they were expensive. (One often instructed the long distance operator to cut in after, say, three minutes, lest overrun costs mount rapidly). Today, the long distance call no longer belongs in a special category, no longer inspires awe, nor involves a mad dash for the receiver. One simply lifts the cell phone to the ear and begins a conversation with someone around the corner or across the world. In such exchanges time and distance are of little concern or consequence.
- On line at a grocery checkout counter often could involve extensive delays. The price sticker on each item had to be located, read and then entered into the cash register. If a particular item lacked a price tag the process came to an abrupt halt. A nearby cashier might be asked for the correct price. Or a manager summoned, or an employee instructed to return to the aisle for a price check. Then there were “sales” items methodically entered at regular store prices. That produced further delay and a variety of strategies to rectify the situation. Today bar codes rule. The clerk need only pass the item, each sporting a bar code, in front of the scanner and the price is instantly recorded while sales items and special deals are automatically recognized and accounted for. More often than not check outs are a breeze. It was once quite another matter.