Sometimes I think back to my childhood and compare it to today. Lately, I’ve been thinking about conveniences I enjoy today that I didn’t have back then. Among them:
- Apple AirPods
- Wireless car key fob
- Remote start for car
- Travel coffee mugs
- Good coffee
- Digital camera
- Electric toothbrush
- Online courses
- Apple Watch
- Bread maker
If I thought about it long enough, I’m sure I could think up dozens more to add to this list.
Clearly, conveniences brought on by advances in technology predominate. Chief among them is the Internet (really, by this I primarily mean the World Wide Web) as well as the widespread availability of computers. I didn’t see my first personal computer (a Mac) until I was in high school, if I remember correctly. And I remember quite clearly the excitement with which I created my first webpage in 1993 using the Mosaic web browser.
Some of the items on my list might seem odd — travel coffee mugs, for example. I think that they probably existed back then in the dark ages, but they were very uncommon, and there certainly weren’t any in our household when I was little. It’s amazing how many different types of coffee cups are readily available today. Then, too, good coffee was not a widespread thing back then. Of course we had Folgers or whatever, but higher quality coffee was not something we encountered much, if at all. The first gourmet coffee we had was probably Gloria Jean’s (yuck), and then of course, there was Starbucks, which only arrived in the area where I live in the early 90s.
Similarly, the mention on my list of the minivan might raise an eyebrow, but it wasn’t invented until the early ‘80s. We drove all over the U.S. and Canada as a family of nine in an Oldsmobile station wagon. It was very crowded and there were very few conveniences that we take for granted today such as cup holders or power outlets, let alone video screens. Minivans are a great invention and as a parent, I am very thankful to have one. I couldn’t care less about whether or not they are “cool”. And one of my favorite features on our minivan is remote start, especially in cold weather like what we’re experiencing right now. The wireless key fob not only unlocks the doors without using a key, but also turns on the the minivan so that it gets warmed up before leaving.
It’s hard to imagine now but we made our way everywhere, in rural areas or large cities, without any GPS. Generally, we relied instead on printed state maps made available at highway rest stops, or bought a Rand McNally atlas of the U.S. and Canada that we kept in the car. We also stopped and asked for directions. And it all worked just fine. I love GPS, though. It isn’t perfect, of course, but it makes travel so much easier. So does the cellphone, which has become a sort of safety blanket that we take for granted — I never go anywhere without it — but not that long ago, we functioned just fine without it.
What would be on your list of conveniences enjoyed today that weren’t around when you were younger?