I’m going to take a different approach to Thanksgiving this year. Instead of trumpeting my own achievements that I’m thankful for, I’m going to illustrate why the little undisciplined punks running around today should be thankful for what they have!
Now that I’m 30, I’m old enough to be a grandfather. Well, at least in some third world countries where things happen differently. And when you’re a grandfather, you like to tell your grandkids, or any random young whippersnapper, how things were so much tougher when you were young.
When I was a kid,…
…if we wanted to call someone, we had to stick our finger in the right hole of a round dial and spin it around for all seven numbers! And if you screwed up, you had to start all over again. Your finger really got a workout!
…if we wanted to call outside our area code, we had to ask our parents if we could use the long distance. Then we had to keep the call super short or else that darned Bell Atlantic bill would be outrageous! We didn’t have cellphones with unlimited long distance, or VOIP that lets us call across the world for free!
…we didn’t have electronic address books, much less contact lists programmed into our phones. If we wanted to call someone, we had to memorize their number or look in a phone book!
…if you didn’t know someone’s number outside of your calling area, you had to get connected to an operator and actually have a real conversation to get the number! There wasn’t an internet where you could look up anyone’s number in seconds!
…if you were lost somewhere, you had to find someplace with a phone. Sometimes you even had to put change in that phone to make it work. NO ONE had a cellphone! Driving down a dark road in the middle of nowhere had a whole different meaning.
…if you wanted money from your bank account, you had to take a bank passbook to a live teller and ask for the money. There were no ATMs!
…if you wanted to see a movie, you had to go to a theater or hope one of the 3 channels (no Fox) would show it in the next year.
…I was halfway through grade school before we got a VCR where we could rent a movie from a store. And movies didn’t have “Special Feature” sections. Those were called the credits!
…a “big screen TV” was 20 inches, and probably surrounded by a fancy wood casing. If you were rich, you could get a mammoth projector TV with 3 light bulbs displaying the picture.
…if you wanted to create a professional document, you had to use a typewriter. Yeah, you try fixing mistakes with a special ribbon that you had to line up perfectly, you spoiled brats! There was no Delete key!
…my first music player was a 45 record player. It came in a little suitcase-type box and I could listen to my mom’s old Beatle singles or Alvin and the Chipmunks!
…blank audio tapes were your only way to record music. There were no MP3s back then!
…if you wanted to record a song, you had to sit at the radio until it finally came on the air and hit the record button just when the DJ stopped talking.
…I was in high school before CDs came out! And there was no computer to rip the music. You actually had to protect those discs or else go spend another $25 at the music shop.
…if you wanted to listen to your CD on-the-go, you couldn’t move an inch or else it would skip. I was in college before anti-skip technology let me fart while listening to MC Hammer.
…if you wanted popcorn, you needed a popcorn-maker. We didn’t have a microwave, much less microwaveable popcorn!
…if you wanted to do math, you needed to know math! You couldn’t whip out a calculator in grade school and figure out 2+2! And not because they were expensive, but because we actually valued knowing how to solve a problem, not just how to get the solution.
…if you wanted to pay for something, you needed either cash or a layaway option. Most people didn’t have credit cards. You needed to be able to afford what you bought! (as a note, layaway is coming back)
…if you wanted to “text message” someone, you wrote them a letter or postcard, mailed it and waited a couple weeks for a response.
…you actually had to know how to write well because you only had one chance to get your point across.
…if you wanted to know how someone was doing, you actually had to talk with people. There was no Facebook or IM. You had to know how to say a response while the person was standing there looking at you!
…any toy that required batteries was a luxury. You had to use your imagination when playing! Now every toy requires batteries!
…if you wanted to buy something, you either had to go to the store or order from their catalog. There was no online shopping!
…if you wanted to take a picture, you had to make sure it was worth it. You couldn’t take 2,000 pictures on a single memory disk. There were no memory disks or digital cameras!
…if you wanted you car window down, you needed to wind it down yourself. If you wanted your door unlocked, you had to wait for the driver to reach across and unlock it.
…we didn’t have computers.
…we didn’t have the internet.
…we didn’t have cellphones, or even touch tone phones.
…we didn’t have iPods or CDs or MP3s or auxiliary ports in our cars.
…we didn’t have credit cards or ATMs or online banking.
So be thankful for all the conveniences you have today, rather than complain that you don’t have the latest plasma TV, game console, music player or other gadget. And be thankful you only have to memorize your own phone number and not every person’s you know.
Be thankful, because I know I sure am.