My childhood was mainly based in the mid to late 1970’s and through the 1980’s. Really the last age of innocence before the tragic events of “9/11”. When I was a child I remember the “Avon Lady” the “Encyclopedia Britannica” sales person and the “Tupperware Lady”. These were “Door-to-Door” Sales persons before on-line shopping. The funny part was even when you were not in the mood to answer your front door, you did so anyway? You were also courteous enough to listen to the person before turning them away. Or, you allowed them to come into your home and give their sales-pitch before turning them away. Can you imagine letting a strange person into your home today? Let alone a person with a product to sell when you could just go onto “Overstock” or “Amazon” and click to buy.
With the dawning of a new decade called the 1980’s we felt strong as a country and the economy was strong producing new items like the microwave and answering machines so you could now avoid talking to everyone and cook a meal in 30 minutes instead of an hour. Sears and Toys-R-Us catalog shopping was still a big deal and you could call in your order to have it delivered. Still, we loved the Mall in the 1980’s and mingled among other human beings as a form of contact and personal communication. Teenagers gathered in the Record Stores and drank an Orange Julius as a form of physically relating to each other.
With new advanced technology we lost the “Door-To-Door” Sale Person as we moved farther away from human communication. “Texting” has replaced the art of the “conversation”. Now the doorbell rings and everyone runs away or crawls on the floor to pretend they are not home. Listen, I get it and I am guilty of some of these non-human relationships. I can’t say that texting isn’t great when you want to send that “Happy Birthday” text to the person you really don’t like in your family but have to send one out of respect for your spouse or sibling.
“Now the doorbell rings and everyone runs away or crawls on the floor to pretend they are not home.”
My Daughter started talking to a young man before they went on their first date a few years back. Before she was ready to go on the date I asked an innocent question like, “did you talk to him to see what time you are going to meet?” She looked at me as if I had three eyes. “I didn’t talk to him?” “No one does that?” My face probably said it all. “How do you know what his voice sounds like?” She replied, “I don’t care!” They had been communicating for a week or so and NEVER heard each other’s voice?
“Door-to-Door” communication has disappeared along with the Salesperson and we have lost our ability to look each other in the eyes. Today I work for a large Insurance Company and there are so many times I pass the same people every day in the hallway and they will not look at you? The best is when they know they are about to approach you and they look immediately down at their phone pretending to look at a text just to avoid that awful, “Hello”. You know what I do? I purposely make them say “Hello” and force them to at least nod. Perhaps I am in the minority when it comes to this lack of recognizing that another human exists? Have I over analyzed this concept?
Customer Service in general has become hot and cold. Depends on the company or store where they may base their training of their employees on having to be overly friendly. However, there are times when I approach a cashier and they never even look up at you? I am not looking for a red carpet interview but could you at least see that I am in front of you? Not until I say “Hello” are they forced to acknowledge my presence. What is going on that we have forgotten how to be nice for no other reason than it is “nice-to-be-nice”?
Vinyl records have made a comeback where we thought that industry was dead. One chain of Bookstores has survived the e-book invasion. There is something about holding a book in your hand that makes me feel accomplished. Plus, what do you do at a book signing when you have your tablet? Restaurant chains are closing because nobody wants to go out and sit at a table and eat? I never thought I would see the day when Supermarkets would be closing but they are. Please do not tell me that all we have left is to sit in our apartments and houses and never go outside to do anything? Gaming has replaced playing outside and look how obese our country is.
There is hope for us all though as the Mall is still a thing and the construction industry is still trying to build bigger and better malls with amusement parks and ski slopes. Sports are still played outside unless I have missed something? We still gather around a t.v. no matter how big the screen is to watch the Superbowl. Movie theaters have brought your living room chair into their theater hoping if you recline on leather and they feed you steak and lobster, you will still come to their building. Cars are still a way to move around the streets and they still require plowing for snow. No virtual reality needed about an un-plowed streets, just ask people living in Brooklyn and Queens. All-in-all I have faith in humankind that what is old is new and what is new is old. Like Lionel Richie sang in the 1980’s, “Hello, is it me you are looking for?”