That Was Then, This Is Now

Want to go back to the good ol’ days? You know, when life was slower paced and simpler, like the “Back to the Future” trilogy?

First, search for part number 121g on the O’Reilly Auto Parts website. Go ahead, I’ll wait. Yep, that’s a flux capacitor, the add-on you’ll need to modify your Delorean or Malibu for time travel. OK, that was put there as a joke but wouldn’t it be fascinating to go back even within the last 100 years to really appreciate how things have changed? You bet. As long as I can get back again. I like flush toilets and refrigeration.

Well, since we can’t really do that (yet), let’s look at a few things you would notice if you could go back.

Have you eaten a meatless hamburger yet? Neither have I but eventually we might and may not even know it. “Where’s the beef?” becomes “where’s the plant-based meat substitute?” That milk you just poured on your cereal might not be from a cow. It could be made from soybeans,  coconuts, almonds, rice, even hemp. At least it isn’t powdered milk. When’s the last time you saw a milkman?

Is this bad? Yes, for beef and dairy farmers. For farmers that produce the ingredients in the substitutes, it’s good. Meanwhile, the argument that this is better for the environment rages on.

Who ever thought you could talk to someone on your wristwatch? When I was a kid only Dick Tracy could do that. Even I can do that now. Jimmy Olson could only send an emergency signal to Superman. Zeeeee!

We now have cars that actually start reliably, last for a long time and don’t rust out in five years. Remember when we waited for the attendant to fill the Studebaker?. Now, you do it yourself while watching a TV on the pump. Someday soon your electric car will start charging as soon as you pull into your garage.

It wasn’t that long ago that we were happy to drive to the video store to rent a movie and return it the next day. Would you do that now?

As for TV, there was a time when you couldn’t wait for next week’s episode of Lassie or Red Skelton. It is now a bottomless pit of nothing worth watching. You couldn’t watch a tiny fraction of what’s available anyhow and that’s probably a good thing. You have to really search for anything you want to commit time to and by the time you find something interesting, it’s time for bed. So you record it and never watch it.

The times, they are a-changin’.

Remember all that music you paid good money for? Those records and tapes are probably gone now unless you’re a collector. Would you want to go back to a rotary phone and a party line? I didn’t think so. It’s nice to see who’s calling so you don’t have to answer.

Postcards and letters? Only at Christmastime for me. Tube or transistor radios and TVs? Nope. There’s a retro culture that’s still hip with some of that stuff but not me.

Some things don’t change such as cheating in baseball (really, all sports). Pleading for forgiveness also doesn’t change. Technology is always the great tempter.

When is the last time you looked something up in a real hardcover encyclopedia or even a dictionary? My dictionary is so old that “snuck”, “irregardless” and “ain’t” ain’t in there. We’ve come a long way, haven’t we?

Remember metal garbage cans and what a pain recycling was at first? Now, it’s a breeze with tough plastic receptacles on wheels and no separation of recyclables needed. We still aren’t sure where it all really ends up. Even your toaster is outdated. There’s one now that has a touch screen so you can program the perfect slice. Yeah, well, I’d somehow still burn it.

Newspapers, magazines and shoppers have been forced to drastically change, go online, or disappear. I wish my junk mail would go online.

Who woulda thought?

Cash? Traveler’s checks? Really? Remember Karl Malden lecturing us with “What will you do?” Credit and debit cards are the norm now. Or just hold your smart phone or smart watch up to the card reader.

Have any film developed lately? Nope. Now you can take thousands of photos for free and then spend hours sorting and Photoshopping them. And still no one wants to see them.

Indoor smoking – would you want to eat at a restaurant where the guy at the next table was lighting a heater? That was not very long ago. Now he just sneaks hits off his vape pen. The vapor doesn’t smell and looks just like the steam from his fajitas.

This generation won’t meet the love of their life at church. Apps are used for that now. Maybe someday single people will stop texting each other and actually meet face-to-face.

OK, you’ve seen some of the past. Now, program your flux capacitor to go to the future to see how we suffered long ago in the year 2020.

Not sure I’m ready for that. I might not want to come back.

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