I saw a cartoon in Zits the other day in which the teenager, Jeremy, came upon a kid with a lemonade stand. The lemonade cost one dollar.
Jeremy says, “A dollar? When I was your age, lemonade only cost fifty cents.”
Jeremy’s girlfriend, Sarah, asks, “Did you just old-man that kid?”
The next day, Jeremy tells his dad, “I just told a kid that things were different when I was his age. It was weird.”
His dad replies, “You’ll come to enjoy it.”
How true those words are! I don’t know what it is since I’ve grown older, but I continually want to rub it in to the pampered, spoiled, younger generation how easy they have it compared to how things were when I was their age. Of course, they blow me off, just like I blew off the older generation who regaled me with horror stories of how difficult they had it growing up. Still, it doesn’t stop me from pontificating on my hardships.
Take writing term papers, for example. In my day, I actually had to trek to the library (you know, those buildings where they store books? If you are under the age of forty, you probably don’t know what I’m talking about) and root through the card catalogue (another foreign concept to youngsters) to find books that might have material I could use. I had to check out a dozen books, cart them home (did I mention reference books are heavy?), and pore through them to find useful tidbits of information. On several occasions, I had to make a trip to the downtown library because the school and local libraries didn’t have what I needed. Then I had to write down and organize the data into meaningful sentences before typing them (yes, on a manual typewriter without autocorrect or spell check) onto an actual piece of paper. If I made a mistake, I had to use White-Out or start all over. Typewritten pages covered in White-Out look rather tacky. If I left out a key concept I meant to put it, I had to start all over. When I finished the paper, I had to lug the books back to the library or risk incurring a late fee for returning books on time.
Today, these spoiled brats simply sit at a computer or over their phone and have all the information they need at their fingertips without ever having to make a trip downtown to the library or move their rear ends from their chairs, except to get snacks. They can rearrange words and sentences, let the computer analyze their spelling and sentence structure, and print out several perfect copies without having to use carbon paper (again, something you youngsters don’t get). And (I will go out on a limb here), I’m betting their papers are inferior to the ones I produced back in the day because the computer does all the work for them and they don’t even have to think for themselves.
Do you want to hear about how I had to walk several miles to school, uphill both ways, in the snow? It’s true. And I’ll tell you something else. When I was a kid with a lemonade stand, lemonade only cost ten cents a cup. (Or was it a nickel?)