Thursday, October 16, 2014


I pondered some deep thoughts while driving to work this morning. A shock, right? The deep thought was spurred by someone mentioning “411” on the radio. I pondered that there was some point in the past 20 or so years where I dialed 411 for the very last time. Then I started thinking of other similar victims of technology that resulted in a “last time.” Had I known that the “thing” I was doing long ago was the last time I did that “thing,” perhaps I would have had a moment of silence, a celebratory swig of beer, or some other appropriate commemoration of the “last ever” event.

I asked my son (who last rode my shoulders and held my hand over 10 years ago) if he knew what 411 meant. He knew “411” was slang for “information” but had no idea that 411 was what you “dialed” on a phone to reach the “information” line when you didn’t have access to a phone book. Speaking of phone books, the last time I picked one up was last week when the new one was delivered. I only picked it up to toss it in the trash. I’m not even sure if I remember how to look someone up. Sad, huh?

My reader, Barbara Nichols, dropped by the office to have us work on her computer so I asked if she had any thoughts on the matter. The last time she had “film” developed was many years ago. She also insists that, technically, no one “dials” a number. We “punch” numbers. Ponder that a second: If you gave a rotary phone to your children or grandchildren, you’d have to show them how to “dial” it and they would no doubt giggle at the strangeness of it.

When’s the last time you picked up a map? Your children and grandchildren probably would not know how to navigate with one. That might be a cool exercise on your next road trip with them -- in between movies and texting, of course.

So as I pondered these things that are forever lost to me, I vowed to watch for future “last times” like: Depositing checks at the bank. More and more of us are simply taking a picture of the check on our smart phones and “depositing” it via smartphone. There will someday be a “last time I ever went to a bank.” Google is making great progress on driverless cars that are already far safer than we humans--mainly because computers don’t look down as they text and drive. So someday, there will be a last time to drive a car. The last time you pick up a pencil will probably happen before the last time you use a keyboard as we get used to speaking to our computers. And most sad of all, there will one day be a last time you read this article in a newspaper. Many of my friends are shocked I still read one but, by golly, I like it and will keep fetching it until the last time.

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