Tuesday, April 10, 2012

When Technology Changes Everything

We were talking about the old butcher shops and general stores from days gone by and it brought up a whole long discussion about another era.  The following are a few examples of how times have changed

Today when we go into a grocery store to purchase meat, everything is pre-packaged or pre-cut.  You would be lucky to find a butcher who still knows the trade without using machinery to do the work.
In the old days people would head to the butcher shop, take a number and wait their turn. You would order ground meat, cut up pork chops in a thickness of your choice and in a number of your choice whether it be 1 pork chop or a dozen.  When affordable or for a special occasion  a nice roast cut from a large piece of meat, hand cut and tied by the butcher.  Then wrapped in paper and labeled as to what is in the package.  Their time with the butcher may have been 5 minutes or 30 minutes depending on your order but everyone expected to wait.

These days there are no Mom and Pop stores so we go to Walmart or Target and load up our carts with everything from food to clothing, even appliances and mixing it all together.  When it is time to check out it seems so impersonal and robotic.  The cashier hands you a receipt and say "sign here" and sometimes, not even a thank you for dropping your whole paycheck in their register.

In a general store people could go into the store, ask to order items with an actual person, shop leisurely and go to the counter to have your bill added up, all the while finding out how the store clerks family is doing and probably some town gossip.  If necessary it could be added to "your account", and then it could even be delivered.
It was based on neighborly goodness and human kindness.

If needed you would visit the druggist or pharmacy where the customer could talk things over with the druggist and would go home with the feeling that someone truly cared about them.  Just 20 years ago I stopped at a local Rexall about my son's dry cracked feet.  The pharmacist went in the back and scooped something out of a larger container, put it into a small container and gave it to me.  He said try this for a week and if it works, we will order more.  It was pure Lanolin and it did work.  I would not find that assistance anywhere today especially at no cost. Sadly that store went out when the chain store came in.

When folks were sick, the doctor came to their homes by "house call".  Day or night.  He did not ask who their insurance was or how they were going to pay the bill.  He might even have had medicine in his bag and leave that with the patient to help their symptoms and would come back in a day or two to check up on them.  There were no trips to the ER at $500+ per visit.

As for the telephone, these days we call a number it is "push 1" for this, or "leave a message after the tone" We did not rely on our phones for every movement we made. If people were not home when someone called, then the person would just call back. I remember how appalled my mother was when someone (wink wink) suggested she get an answering machine.  She wanted to know "why"?  They will just call back she said.

A lot of these scenarios are stories I heard from my mother who grew up back in that time, so they are not just imagined, they were truly how life was.

Technology is moving us forward into the future, yes, but sometimes we long for the days when it was just nice to meet face to face.
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