Same with toll plazas. Once upon a time you’d be obliged to inch forward on a long line while each motorist in front handed over cash and coin to the booth attendant. And while you waited you squeezed your hand into one pocket after another hoping to extract the necessary change. Or you would take up a collection from passengers. Lacking the appropriate coins you’d be obliged to hand over a ten or twenty dollar bill and wait while the attendant carefully counted out your change. Today, you just get yourself an E-Z Pass device and none of this need happen. Display it on the dashboard, tap lightly on your brakes and roll right on through.
Talk about moving on, there was a time when auto reliability could not be assumed. Drive along an extended stretch of road and expect to see cars pulled off to the side, suffering from one ailment or another. Flat tires were common place; regulators, generators and carburetors would go on the fritz and exhaust systems come unhinged. In summer radiators burst sending clouds of steam billowing over lifted hoods. In winter windshield wipers were apt to get stuck in snow. Drive these same roads today and nary a vehicle can be spotted along the shoulders. Cars (foreign and domestic) are more reliable than ever. For us humans age sixty may be the new fifty. But our cars, even at 100,000 miles, are still able to reward us with years more of dependable service.
Remember picture taking back when? You’d load a roll of film into the camera (making sure you did not expose it to the light) and were then able to take a limited number of exposures. It might take several occasions before you completed the roll. Meanwhile, you had no idea how any of them had turned out. Then you either sent the film away to be developed or brought the roll to a local store that did. When the pictures would be ready no one was quite certain. Finally, often many days later, they were. Some shots turned out well, others not. Some were double exposures or indistinct (because someone had moved or because the light was insufficient) or disappointing because not everyone was smiling. Today there’s no film, no limits on picture taking, plus there’s instant gratification; no more waiting for days on end to view the results. If you carry your Smartphone with you all the time – and who doesn’t? – you’re never without a camera. You can, at any time, just snap away, instantly view the results and immediately dispatch the “keepers” to a limitless circle of friends and family members. What once was an uncertain, complicated and time consuming process is now both spontaneous and remarkably simple.
We could go on and discuss massive encyclopedia sets that have given way to instant computer driven flows of information, or how cash has taken a back seat to credit cards while cooking food has retreated before the microwave, but the point has been made. Life surely remains a complicated undertaking, a bewildering experience. Still, over the years, we’ve benefited from an exceptional number of improvements that have helped ease our way.