As a teen, I could play a mean game of pong. My handwriting was absolutely gorgeous and I wrote the best letters. I drove my Pinto with a stick shift like a pro. No one was faster at shorthand than me in high school.
I perfected licking stamps without swallowing them, surviving while riding a bike without a helmet, providing loving care for my pet rock, and finding a book at the library using a card catalog and the decimal system.
Cradling a phone for hours in the crook of my neck while I talked to friends? No problem. I created beautiful photo albums that included funny sayings I carefully cut out of magazines. I used a Polaroid camera, picked the right film, and reduced exposure time like an expert.
Forget Quicken, spellcheck, and a calculator. I balanced a checkbook beautifully in minutes, my spelling was impeccable, and I made change from cash in my head.
Alas, all these talents have gone to waste. Technology has sadly left me in the dust.
I’m not alone in grieving discarded past skills no longer needed. In Michael’s Kaplan’s article, Technology is Making Baby Boomers Total Losers published in the New York Post, he laments the invention of Telsa cars.
“A few weeks ago, I rode in a friend’s Tesla… my pal couldn’t wait to show me the sedan’s most mind-blowing feature: It parallel parks by itself – perfectly,” Kaplan writes. “I feigned amazement, but thought something else: This is one more skill of mine that has just become obsolete. I’m a below-average driver but an awesome parallel parker… Grown men stand curbside and marvel over my bumper-to-bumper artistry.”
He goes on to list other talents we boomers had that are no longer needed such as reading a map or remembering phone numbers. Oh, I hear you, Kaplan!
Remember sewing classes in Home-Ec? I painfully learned how to make my own clothes pricking my fingers with those stupid sewing pins. And for what? Suddenly, it became cheaper to buy clothes than make your own. Who makes dresses from patterns, mends their clothes, or sews on a button anymore?
During my first job as a secretary at a bank, I developed an uncanny skill for using carbon copies (by the way, youngsters, where do you think the initials CC comes from when you send an email – yes, from this archaic tool) without making a smudgy mess. I also used typewriter erasers without tearing the paper.
And get this – most impressive of all – I could paint precisely with whiteout to fix a typo, let it dry the exact right amount of time, and then realign the paper perfectly so the type was not too high or too low. It was genius!
I made the cutest paper dolls from the Montgomery Ward catalog. My embroidered cutoffs and artful doodles of Snoopy on my Pee Chee folder made my schoolmates pee green with envy. I could skip a song on an album by picking up the needle and placing it at the exact spot of my favorite song without scratching the vinyl.
No one cares.
Doesn’t it make you yearn for public pay phones, grinding gears, and the sound of a dial-up modem? Adjusting rabbit ears? Cleaning the head of a VCR? Lining up paper on a dot matrix paper? Fixing an 8-track by putting Vaseline on a Q-tip to lubricate the rubber wheel? Floppy disks?
Well, maybe not. But we can still mourn for all our awesome skills that are now useless. And who knows?
Maybe you’ll be in an old Jeep driving alongside a cliff when the driver has a heart attack. Yeah, and you must jump on his lap and take over before you plunge hundreds of feet below. I mean, you just never know. Good thing you know how to drive a stick shift!
Perhaps our expired skills aren’t so useless after all!