It’s All Obsolete Now!

by Evelyn J. Mocbeichel

I often catch up by phone with friends that live in other states and find it more enjoyable than just texting or sending emails. Most of the time we talk for over an hour on a host of topics that flow into the conversation. A recent call to my friend, Sheila, in New Hampshire had the topic turn to writing checks and how the cell phone service she uses in her area declined payment by check. They told her the company “only accepts payment by giving them your credit card number”, which Sheila did not want to do and prefers to write checks yet.  After that call, I began thinking about other things that are slowing disappearing or will soon be gone in my lifetime.

Think about the post office for example. When our children were younger, a trip to the post office was almost a weekly event. Whether it was to weigh a letter going overseas or to mail bills or buy stamps, a trip to the post office was on my errand list. No longer is the U.S. postal service the only mailing solution. There are other services that offer delivery and during the COVID lockdown, trucks from these companies were seen on highways or making deliveries around town. Speaking of deliveries, I wonder if there is still a need for newspapers to be delivered by eager young students having their first start with a little job before school. Watching old movies, they usually had a young boy on a bicycle tossing a newspaper on the front lawn of local residences. Nowadays many people opt to purchase a service where they can read their daily newspaper online at their leisure and not have bulky newspapers accumulating at home. These same people might also be the ones with a device for reading a book online, rather than having the actually book in hand. People that use this method say it is less expensive to buy a subscription for “borrowing” books online rather than buy the book. My thought, “That is what a library is for” or how about exchanging books with friends? For me there is nothing like holding a thick hardcover book in hand and turning pages, whether on the beach or a comfy chair at home. No matter the convenience of these devices, holding a real book is something I will not give up and still enjoy.

In our den, lined up on five shelves of my bookshelf are VCR tapes of wonderful movies.  Some of them are unopened in their original wrapper. Add to that scores of tapes my husband made from our home movies and family vacations and we have months of entertainment at our finger tips. Luckily we have two VCR machines still, but what happens when they break? When I ask friends if they’d like some of these unopened or duplicate movies, they say they don’t have a VCR machine any more. Plus there is no place I can donate them to either. Add this to the list of “things that will disappear that we knew when we were younger.”

This topic of “doing away with things”, often arises when friends tell me, “I only use my cellular phone now and have given up my landline.” There goes crossed out numbers in my telephone book and rolodex. Yup, I still use a rolodex that has to be at least 25 years old now. These friends giving up their landline have mostly done so for economical reasons, saving money and paying one phone bill. However, for our family, I like the clarity and comfort of having a landline besides a cell phone number. Our landline phone still has the cord on it and a regular phone handle. I find the portable phones, that are used for landlines are not as comfortable to hold and talk into, especially for lengthy conversations. It is like holding a flat deck of cards to your ear and not easy to grasp. Besides, when I am calling a close friend, I prefer to relax on the sofa and just concentrate on the call. I know many people like to be doing household chores or “multi-tasking” while talking on the phone, but not me. This list could go for much longer and I am sure readers could add to it.