Simpler Times

Brace yourselves young people, what I’m about to say might come as a shock. But then, you always knew adults were idiots. How could we be anything else? We grew up without the internet.

It’s not our faults we’re technologically slow. For a large part of our lives the only phones we had were clunky ones. They had forty-foot cords stretching all the way into the den. To dial our friends, we used rotary cranks. It was either that, or we dialed zero.

In which case we’d get the operator. Your conversation would go something like this: “Hi Miss Reginald. Oh, mama’s fine. Yes ma’am. Hmmm? Oh, thank you. Yes, I’ll tell her you said so.”

After that, we had to gather the courage to disclose the original intent of our call.

“Miss Reginald,” you’d say. “May I be connected with Willma-Lee McWilliams? Hmmm? Yes Ma’am. That’s right. Hmmm? Oh, she and I are in the same class. Oh yes ma’am. Hmmm? Well, I dunno, I guess she’s pretty. No ma’am, she’s not my girlfriend. Yes ma’am. Thank you, ma’am.”

Besides humiliating conversations with a nosy middle-aged woman, when you called a girl, you almost never got the actual girl on the phone. Instead, it was her mother — or God forbid, her father.

“McWilliams’ residence,” he’d answer in a voice like a tuba.

Then you’d get so queasy you almost ralphed, and hang up. Those were different times.

Imagine a world without email. No texts, either. In fact, we didn’t spend but a few minutes per day on the phone. And without Caller ID, whenever the phone rang, we’d swallow our anxieties and take our chances. But then, there were few anxieties.

Fewer chances, too.

I’ll be honest, computers have molded you children into brilliant minds. Smarter than we ever were. Perhaps that means you’ll find a way to better manage this world we’ve messed up. I believe you will.

Still, I wish you knew what it was like growing up like we did. There wasn’t much technology to speak of. We didn’t need our thumbs for anything but typewriters. You would’ve liked our naive place. You’d have even liked Miss Reginald, who I understand passed last month.

Rest well, ma’am.

The computers can take it from here.