Betty Stone: The times, they are a changin’


Betty Stone



The syndicated columnist Thomas Sowell sometimes writes a column he calls "Random Thoughts." Most of my thoughts lately have been random, so that''s what I, too, shall share `a la Sowell. 


I have moved into a new house, something many people do much more frequently than every 50 years, as is my case. Are other people struck with how different are the sounds of different houses? Of course, traffic sounds differ as would be expected, but houses "breathe" differently, too. Refrigerators hum a different tune. Things click on and off to a different rhythm. Footsteps resonate differently, and even faucets gush or trickle in their own way. 


Learning where the light switches are is a challenge, especially when the electrician has used a different pattern of logic. Soon I expect to get the hang of it and no longer cut on the disposal instead of the kitchen lights. But aren''t we lucky to live in a time when both are possible at the flick of a switch? 


Is anyone else out there old enough to remember when the mailman delivered your mail to your door, twice a day, for three cents a letter, one cent a postcard? Today it costs 42 cents a letter, few postcards get sent, and you must walk out to a curbside mailbox, even if you are lame and your driveway is large enough for the mail person to drive right up to your front door. It seems that on new routes they are not allowed to get out of their vehicles, nor may they back up. I''ve also been wondering why, at the Bluecutt Post Office, parking places for the handicapped are so far from the front door. I guess patrons hobbling on crutches must get their exercise, too. 


Within the last month I paid my quarterly estimate for my income tax. I''m always scared to death I''ll forget the darn thing. If I did, I wonder if the IRS would consider it an "honest mistake"? If I could do it long enough, say, four years, I might qualify for a U.S. cabinet post! 


Last year I met a man who is part of a serious movement to get Vermont to secede from the Union. My first thought was, "They wouldn''t let us, so why should Vermont get to?" 


It seems his reasoning is that government has gotten too big to be efficient. It is cumbersome and costly and could be much better managed on a smaller scale. He may have a point, but I doubt Vermont''s secession will succeed. Nowadays we are drifting toward even bigger government; we''re trying to take on the whole world. 


Have you ever pondered why, when you call a company representative, you sometimes get an overdose of indifference? Small operations, the mom-and-pop stores, have all but disappeared. The person hired to deal with customer problems very often could not care less about his or her satisfaction. No longer is the customer "always right," or even occasionally so. Instead, if the consumer doesn''t fit a certain computer category, his or her problem simply can''t be fixed. So there. 


This is particularly true when one is put on "hold" for interminable telephone time, only to get a recording of options, none of which fit his category, but which put him instead in an endless cycle of repetition until he just capitulates and hangs up. 


Does anyone else think wistfully of the days when "your" salesperson at "your" store would telephone you with the news, "We just got an order in, and there are a couple of outfits that look just like you. Do you want me to hold them for you or to send them out for you to try on?" 


Furthermore, you didn''t need a card to charge your purchase. They did that automatically. They knew you.  


Did you know there are people actually trying to build an elevator into space? They say it will be cheaper than rockets. It would go to a space station orbiting earth at a speed that keeps it in the same location relative to earth. From that station of less gravitational pull, spaceships could be launched into outer space more economically. Will wonders never cease? 


The times, they are a changin''. While pining for some features of the "good ole days" might make some of us seem like crotchety old women or curmudgeons, all of us are being propelled inexorably into a "brave new world" that might surprise even Aldous Huxley. Guess we''d better take a deep breath, adjust, adapt, and, as Faulkner said, when he accepted his Nobel Prize for literature, prevail. 


Betty Boyls Stone is a freelance writer, who grew up in Columbus.


Betty Boyls Stone is a freelance writer, who grew up in Columbus.


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