Once upon a time we had to wait

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Remember what life was like before we had instant everything? That is what occurred to me this morning watching my computer screen as music downloaded into my iTunes library.

It was an album that came out today. Boom, one click of the mouse and I had it at my house. Now I’m still trying to figure out how to get to the artwork to make a copy for a CD I burned, but I know it appeared instantly too and is stored somewhere.

Point is I didn’t leave the comfort of my pajamas to purchase this music. When I was a kid shopping for the latest 45s in a record store on Covington Avenue in Opp, I could not imagine doing what I just did.

No, we waited for the store to get the newest records, and then if we got there before they sold out, we bought one (if we had babysitting or grass-cutting money saved). If they sold out or our cash flow was only a trickle, we waited until they got another shipment. Notice, I said we waited, and we didn’t think it was unusual to wait for something.

I’m not sure the generation immediately following ours remembers having to wait like that. I’m absolutely sure their children, our grandchildren, don’t have a clue about it.

Still in my comfortable PJs, after I downloaded music, I went online and did a bit of Christmas shopping. (Before I hear from local merchants, it was stuff I couldn’t buy here.) Concerned about not getting one of the items before Christmas, I called the company.

“Oh yes, that item has three-day shipping and it will go out no later than Dec. 16,” said a nice customer service person. “You should have it in plenty of time.”

After I hung up, I thought back to not so long ago, (at least it seems not so long ago to me) when ordering something less than four to six weeks before Christmas was just being silly. Why everyone knew that most anything took four, to six to eight weeks to get from a warehouse to your house.

If we order something these days and it is going to take say five business days, we throw our hands up in frustration. We want our stuff and we want it now.

Don’t misunderstand, I love, love, love that I can shop with my messed up hair and in my baggy britches and have what I buy show up on my doorstep in two days. I do wonder if in our “I need it here yesterday world, “we are forgetting how to be patient, how to savor and enjoy the anticipation of things to come.

Oh, I know we can’t go backwards, and I don’t even want to go back to the “good old days” when I watched for the mail truck every day for weeks hoping that special gift I ordered would arrive in time. (Remember there was no online tracking telling you exactly where a package was at every minute of the day).

I do think, however, we might revisit having more patience and stop for a moment to acknowledge the conveniences we enjoy. It is not a disaster if sometimes we have to wait, have to give something time without allowing the waiting to push us into frustration.

Oh hey, I got a ding from my email. Well, I have a tracking number for something I ordered today. Guess I can already see where my stuff is and when it will arrive. Think I’ll check it out. Ah, instant is a good thing.

WAIT A MINUTE! What the heck do they mean tracking information might not be available for 24 hours …