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Saturday, April 02, 2011

Time Marches On

When I was a kid we had one telephone. It was in the hallway near the front door, and when it rang, it was so loud you could hear it all over the apartment. You had to run to pick it up and then yell to your mother, father, or sister, if it wasn’t for you. There was a pad by the phone and several phone directory books nearby. The phone company owned and supplied the phones and updated the books. It was cool to see your family’s name in the book, but a bit disconcerting to notice how many others there were with identical or almost identical names, even in your own neighborhood.

Eventually, I bought a house and had extensions in almost every room. I had an answering machine and an unlisted number. I had to buy new phones and extensions. Later they were wireless and had antennas.

Now, I have a cell phone. It gets the internet with facebook, twitter, texting, so that I hardly ever get phone calls anymore. When it rings, I have to find it because it is the only one I have and it is very small so I misplace it. I have decided to keep it in one central room, probably the hallway near the door.

When I was a kid and got too sick to go to school, the doctor came to the house, told my mother to boil water for his instruments. He gave me a penicillin shot, charged my mother $10.00 which she paid in cash. He drove to his next stop in a Cadillac.

Now, when I am sick, I call the doctor’s office for an appointment. If he can fit me in some time that week, I go to the doctor’s office and sign in. I then sit and wait for an hour or two until I am called into one of the exam rooms. I wait there, until a nurse’s aid comes in with my file and takes my vitals.

Eventually, the doctor arrives. Sometimes he prescribes some medication for me. My co-pay is around $10.00 and he charges the insurance company $60.00. He drives a Mercedes. He doesn’t validate my parking.

When I was a kid, there were seven daily newspapers, four morning, three evening. My grandfather would bring three of them home from the newsstand and my father brought more home every night.

When Kennedy was shot, I grabbed all the newspapers that were left on the seats of the subway train and spent the weekend with the rest of my family and everyone else in the country, watching Cronkite, realizing that things were scary when he welled up, and removed his glasses to announce the time of death.

Now, I read the news on my cell phone (often while I am waiting in the doctor’s office). I saw the videos of the Japanese quake and tsunami, texted my son, brother, sister, nephews, friends, some others. I even spoke to one of them for a few minutes.

It is not the same.

1 comment:

  1. Someone (on Facebook) asked how I feel about the passing of wristwatches. Good point, same issue. My grandfather had a pocket watch that flipped open and ticked loudly. It was silver and had fancy scrollwork. He wore three-piece suits so he could carry it in his vest pocket. Later, he thought the Bulova wristwatch was a great convenience. I thought my Casio digital was even better. But now I have to reach into my pants pocket and struggle to remove and peer at the little numbers on my iPhone. Still not much improvement in 100 years.