Monday, July 6, 1998

Week of 07/06/1998

The Little Things I Miss..
An introspective
- by David Matthews 2

When it comes to changes, there are plenty of things that I am excited about. I can talk volumes about computer changes, the scope of the Internet, the changes in politics, the changes in society and the economy..

And yet, for all the changes, I find that there are some things that are disappearing that I liked. Not grand things, mind you. Nothing earth-shattering. Just the little things that sort of made life bearable. Here are a few of them:

  • I miss getting good mail. Most of the time when I get mail, it’s junk mail. I don’t know why people think I have a home mortgage, but I’m not interested in seeing refinancing ads printed on check stock and mailed out in enveloped made to look like tax rebates. Of course, they’re just the latest trend in groups who want me to give them money that I don’t have for things that I don’t need. If I’m lucky, I’ll get a letter from my adopted brother/best friend in New Hampshire. He doesn’t ask for money. He just asks for advice or ideas, or gives me advice or ideas. That’s easier to give out than money. Other than that, I usually get bills and offers to renew magazines seven months before their year-long subscriptions run out.
  • Everyone’s asking me for money. My cat is now charging me for the time he spends with me. Standard rate is now for five pets on the head, two scratches behind his ears, and one rub under the chin. It costs extra if I want to pick him up and hold him for one minute. Fortunately, I get back at him by charging him for each can of cat food and each time I clean his litter box. It all balances out, which is more than what I can say for some of the other groups demanding money from me.
  • I miss getting cards for my birthday and Christmas. I used to send cards out, and there are a few folks I still send cards to. But when it comes to my birthday, I’ll be lucky if the only card I get comes from my insurance representative who wants to wish me a happy birthday and remind me that my semi-annual payment is due.
  • I still remember when stamps used to cost a quarter. I don’t know why they keep raising the prices. My bills don’t arrive any faster, and according to the people I send payments to, the checks are arriving later and later. Something’s not right there.
  • It’s sort of sad that the whole purpose of electronic mail was to get information through faster, and yet the majority of E-mail I get from people keep saying they don’t have time to chat because they’re busy doing things. It’s rather discouraging that the only advantage of E-mail is to blow people off faster. I suppose I should be thankful for at least getting something from them. Most of the time, I’m sending out E-mail to people whom I’ll be lucky if I get a reply at all.
  • I remember when taking part in discussion groups like bulletin boards and mailing lists used to mean people discussing the topic of the group. Nowadays, the only mailing list I subscribe to is deluged with people who are nitpicking about grammar and spelling, and spending time engaging in insulting E-mails between each other until they are forced to drop off the list. Okay, so not everyone in the mailing list have automatic spelling and grammar checkers on their E-mail programs, and not every member of the mailing list is a best-selling novelist with the proofreading fanaticism of an English professor during finals. At least they’re trying to contribute something to the mailing list, which is more than the bulk of members who simply read the responses and don’t contribute for fear they might be treated like a stevedore visiting Tiffany’s straight from the job site.
  • Remember when there used to be music on the radio with the occasional commercial interruption? Now when I listen to the radio, I have to put up with these endlessly lame commercials with the occasional song interruption. It doesn’t even matter if I change the station, because they all seem to run the commercials at the exact same time! And if they aren’t running commercials, the DJ is blathering on like a love-struck groupie about some band that’s coming to town in six months, their latest release, and what they were doing with their lives when they first heard the group play in some college bar. The radio used to make my drive home bearable. Now it just adds to the stress. If there is ever a reason to have auto makers install cassette and CD players as standard equipment for all vehicles, I can’t think of a better one.
  • I remember when a thunderstorm was just a brief interruption from outdoor activity. Now, if you listen to the radio or watch local TV stations, it’s a major catastrophe. Tornado season is over, but every little flash of lightning is now sending people to storm shelters. The term "shell-shock" comes to mind when I hear this meteorological overkill at work.
  • I remember a time when a person’s religious beliefs were their own. The fact that you believed in something that kept you getting out of bed in the morning was just fine and dandy. Now the religious wrong want everything in the universe to reflect their particular beliefs. The best bumper sticker I heard of best summed up my feelings towards this trend: "Pro-life? Then get one and leave mine alone!" I have got to find where they sell those bumper stickers.
  • There used to be a big difference between urban and rural areas. Now, it seems that urban sprawl is about as much of a constant as the Dow Jones Stock Market. People wonder how urban sprawl happens. It’s no big secret. People who are fed up about all the problems with the city are moving into the neighboring small towns because they have all the quaint things that they don’t see in the urban and suburban areas. Then they start complaining that these quaint rural areas don’t have the 24-hour supermarket and the local mega-mall. So all the conveniences of urban and suburban life start moving in to meet customer demand, which acts as a sirens call for more people to leave the suburban areas into these areas. More people mean more needs, more needs means more urban and suburban goodies. Next thing you know, the town goes from "unincorporated" into "metropolitan." Folks have to realize that you can’t have the best of city life without the worst following it. It’s a package deal.

It’s probably unlikely we’ll ever get back those little things that I miss, but I guess that is the whole point. If only the conservatives can understand that.

No comments: