Patience is a virtue. Technology has really eliminated the need to play the waiting game in so many arenas of our lives. This got me to thinking… what are the things I had to wait for as a kid that my children will likely never understand?
7 Things My Children Will Never Have to Wait For
1- The bus.
I remember bus stops when I was a teenager that were just a pole with a sign. No schedule attached to the pole. The only way to know what time and which bus would swing by that pole? Having my handy-dandy bus schedule in my backpack, or calling the BC Transit hotline from a pay phone. If neither of those were options… stand and wait. Wait for a bus that might not even be scheduled to come for another two hours. Wait for a bus to take you somewhere you could’ve walked if you’d known the bus was 45 minutes away.
Figuring out which buses to take to get you where? A whole other issue.
Now, the bus schedule (and often the GPS location of the next bus) is on your phone. Google Maps tells us which buses to take with just a few taps!
2- Their favourite TV show.
I’ve always been a planner. If the latest episode of my favourite show was going to be on and I knew I wouldn’t be home, I always meticulously programmed the VCR.
- My VHS ran out of tape.
- I accidentally programmed the wrong channel.
- Someone switched off the VCR.
Then what?! Then how was I going to find out what happened on Dawson’s?!
Step one: frantic phone calls to family and friends asking if they recorded it.
Step two: wait for re-runs.
My tv-watching preference, of course, was to watch my shows live. I remember saying to my parents: “I wish we could fast-forward through the commercials!” Or rewind a show while it was airing… or pause it…
With on-demand tv shows and binge-watching on Netflix, the “I’m going to have to wait til re-runs” panic shall be unknown to my children. As it is, Cub can barely handle the 5-second ad before his favourite YouTube clip, let alone a full set of commercials when he’s watching cable TV at his grandparents’ place!
3- Concert tickets.
I got up at 4 AM so my best friend and I could line up outside of Ticket Master to get our seats for No Doubt’s 1996 Tragic Kingdom tour. We were the first in line until we got hungry and figured, hey, nobody else is coming, let’s go get McDonald’s. Much to our dismay, upon our return from our hashbrown-patty quest, some older kids from our highschool were now first in line! They totally got better seats!
I had this poster in my bedroom!!
When Adele is touring her “45” album, my kids won’t be camping out anywhere except at their keyboard. (The keyboard of whatever device I haven’t yet imagined that will replace smart phones…)
4- Their favourite song.
Coolio. Gangsta’s Paradise. It was grade seven, and we were having an end-of-year class party. I was bringing my 6-CD changer/dual-cassette deck boom box. I knew Gangsta’s Paradise was my crush’s favourite song, and I needed to prove how cool I was in my tune selection.
Finger carefully poised on the “record” button, blank cassette in place, hoping against all hope that the DJ wouldn’t talk over the opening bars of the song…. tuning in to the Top 6 at 6, not knowing quite when the song would play…
Wait for it…. wait for it….
Crap! Missed it! Gotta stay up late for the Top Ten at Ten!
Am I going to look good enough in the photo in my Snowball dress (Snowball was our high school senior formal dance) so that, once it’s developed, I can scan it into my computer and wait for it to upload to my computer so I can send it to the strangers (who I assume are my age) I chat with on ICQ?
Oh, the agony of thinking you got some stellar photos, only to discover they’re blurry, heads are cut off, eyes are red… once you’ve paid and waited to have them developed.
“Don’t waste my film!”
Remember taking selfies with your film camera? Hit or miss, hit or miss. And you didn’t know til you finished the roll and dropped them off for development and then picked them up! If you were willing to pay a premium, you could spring for 1-hour developing. There is an entire generation of children out there who has never seen a roll of film, let alone had their picture taken without being able to see immediately what it looks like. “Shake it like a Polaroid picture?” More like… “Upload it like an Instagram selfie!”
6- The Internet.
Beep boop. Beep boop. Shhhhhhhh. Bring ding, bring ding…. Those are my dial-up modem noises.
My first email address, which might have been firstname.lastname@example.org (I’m confident my best friend’s was dawls_69, and that the number was not, as she told her father, representative of the horoscope sign for cancer), could only be checked during computer class (if I got my work done before the end of the period) or by going to the library and signing up for a half-hour time slot. I would have to wait to check my e-mail!
When we finally got the Internet at our house, thanks to a free trial AOL CD-Rom that likely came in a cereal box, I would boot up the computer and go get a snack. Then dial up to the Internet while reading a chapter of a book for school or folding a basket of laundry. Then someone would need to use the phone. Finally, I’d be ready to work on my awesome X-files website, Musings of an X-Phile Butterfly. I’d log on to Tripod and perhaps set a few images I’d scanned to upload while going to walk the dog. (Side note: it took at least 10 minutes to complete the scan of one 8×10 image with that first scanner I begged my Dad to buy me.)
Oh yes. My website is still there!
Considering it would take half an hour to actually get anything going on my computer and get on to Tripod to work on my site, I’m amazed at how much humiliatingly ridiculous content I managed to produce.
7- The mailman.
I had many pen pals when I was a kid.
I recall adding the following, charming poem to my envelopes:
Deliver the letter / The sooner the better / The later the letter /The madder I getter.
I honestly would not blame any mailman who just tossed my snarky, sparkly, smelly letters in the trash. (Scratch-and-stiff stickers were de rigueur, of course.)
Things I would ask my pen pals:
- How are you? (I’m fine.)
- Do you want to be pen pals?
- Do you have Burger King where you live? What about McDonald’s? (I do!)
- Who is your favourite New Kid on the Block? (Mine is Joe!)
I’m not convinced Pen Pals will even be a thing for my kids. So far, Cub asks me to text one of his buddy’s Moms if he has a question for them or wants to tell them what animal shape his poop was. To keep in touch with his buddies and cousins back in Montreal, we FaceTime! (Let’s not even discuss how amazing it is that we have a telephone where we can see our friends!! My childhood dream!!)
What do you remember waiting for as a kid?