This That and Other Stuff

Bob Neuman

We elderly people talk frequently of the good old days when people were sane. Were things really better when we were growing up, or is our memory playing tricks?

We say there was more consideration, politeness, accountability, common sense and responsibility. Is this all true? Was there less anxiety then? Were people kinder and gentler? The only riots I recall then involved my mother-in-law, not gangs in the street with ball bats. Some things do give credence to those who consider the old days the best days.

Awhile back, a cashier at a drug store rang up my purchases and took my money while having a personal conversation on her cellphone, never once looking or speaking to me.

At a huge hardware store, the cashier’s conversation was a steady one with another cashier and was about her divorce. Complain to the manager? No good there … he hired them.

We were conned into pumping our own gasoline and promised a smaller bill. No more check the oil, tires, water and wash your windshield stuff – no cheap gas either.

Fast food places have programmed us to carry the food ourselves, clean up the table and throw out our trash. Will we soon be sweeping the floor?

Have you ever tried to reason with a company that charged you an incorrect amount? You may push this and push that, but try to get a real person to speak with. We may sit for hours hearing every few minutes a recorder that tells us, “We value your call.” If we ever succeed, we could be met with apathy or ignorance. When we find courtesy and intelligence, we feel like falling to our knees and thanking our maker.

Estimates of 200 million are being used in our country. Better keep an eye in the rearview mirror for the phone talker who is a foot from your rear bumper doing 80 mph.

Cellphones do serve a purpose in real emergencies but can be a pain in places such as church, restaurants, airports, concerts and other places … especially with uncaring people who speak in loud voices as if their phone is a tin can on a string. Say something to them and get shot?

In a Phoenix theater, a man received several calls, talking loudly each time. Finally, the man in front of him grabbed the phone and smashed it against the back wall. He also gave the rude talker a tongue lashing. The audience applauded.

Accountability and personal responsibility do seem to be in short supply. Broken trust, abuse and fraud are all too prevalent in our society. It is not uncommon to read that government officials, clergy and teachers are involved.

On my father’s request before his death, I took a sum of money to the minister of a church my father had attended most of his life. When the rectory door opened a crack and a hand stuck out, I could see cigars, booze and poker. Later, the minister was found to be playing the horses with church funds. I hope Dad’s horse won.

We have truly lost some characteristics that not only made our county great but also provided us with a more pleasant and less stressful life.