As I sat listening to the minister in church this morning, I mentally jumped up and shouted “Amen!” (I couldn’t do it physically because the staid Baptist that lives in me just wouldn’t permit.) He was talking about the plight of the post office and how much he misses old- fashioned, hand-written letters. I tried to remember the last time I received a letter in the mail-a real letter that someone took the time to sit down and write to me. By hand, mind you. Computer generated emails don’t count.
Larry has a whole collection of letters from his younger days-some from his mama when he was overseas, some from me, and probably some he hasn’t bothered to share with me. I’m not sure I’ve written one since I wrote those to him. Being the throw-it-out-if-I-don’t-need-it type, I never kept my mama’s letters, but they came to me regularly when I was a student at the University of Georgia. Long distance phone calls cost money. If someone called me to the bank of payphones in the hall, I knew it was an emergency. My parents did not waste money talking on the phone, not when they could buy a stamp for one single nickel. That was wild extravagance in their opinion. A letter in the mail box when I checked it every morning at 11:00 made me happy. Someone had cared enough to sit down and write me a letter.
As I drove home from church, I thought about so many other things of my youth that have disappeared. Those same payphones from the dorms and from every street corner-they’re gone with the wind. Just try to find one now. Even paper bills are vanishing. Instead right there in my email sits the reminder that I need to stop by the insurance office and give them one arm and one and one-half legs by the end of next week if we want to continue driving our fleet of cars. Of course, I don’t actually have to drive my car to their office. I can send my limbs via the electronic path, too, from the comfort of my computer chair. I used to wait for my bank statement, chewing my nails and praying that my mathematical calculations were correct that month, that I really did have $.78 left in the bank rather than an overdraft. Now the statement arrives via email, and I can check my balance every fifteen minutes if I want to. What a change!
And how many households still have landlines? We do, but I don’t know how much longer I want to pay two phone bills.
Not just physical things have disappeared. Oh, no! One thing from my past that lies dead and desecrated in the street is modesty. Yesterday my sister and I were in Statesboro stuck in traffic in front of Wal-mart. We watched a steady parade of clothing-or lack thereof, that is.
“Sarah Nell, do you realize that about 3/4 of these people would have been arrested for indecent exposure in the ’60s?” I asked her.
“Yep. Look at that girl over there,” she replied, nodding to her left.
My eyes followed hers to a chubby young lady in a stretch mini-skirt. It was hiked up in the back, revealing underwear, and her coordinating top had only one shoulder. Not one single bulge was left to the imagination.
Perhaps the clothing industry can’t produce enough fabric to properly cover our bulging obese bodies here in the good old US of A.
Probably the thing I miss most and really mourn for is privacy. It’s gone. A camera lurks on every corner, watching. If we use computers, and how can we avoid it in 2011, we must worry about our very identities. My generation never had to worry about that. Identities were as safe as the streets of Small Town, USA. No longer is that true.
My Fellow Baby Boomers, you probably know it already, but I’m telling you any way—the world as we knew it is disappearing from under our feet. It’ll soon be gone completely.