Monday, February 11, 2013

The Times They Are A' Changin'

There are things we’ve known our whole lives that we assumed were untouchable, as much of the reality of life as sunset and moonrise. And now they’ve changed.

I’m talking about Canada’s decision to stop making pennies. Apparently it costs more than a penny to make a penny and such logic is not up for challenge. I heard about this last summer and now the time has come. The last penny has been made and twenty years from now, children will have to look up what “a penny for your thoughts” means when Grandpa slips it into conversation. Music teachers will have to adapt the children’s game “Who has the penny?” Math books with problems about pennies, nickels, quarters and dimes will have to be re-written. The repercussions are staggering.

The next blow to the solid ground of dependable customs was the U.S. Post Office announcing it would no longer deliver mail on Saturday. No surprise that they’re struggling and instead of feeling frustrated that we’ll have to wait an extra day for the letter from our dear friend, it mostly means a day off from recycling the useless coupons, stacking bills or ignoring pleas for money from humanitarian organizations. But still. No mail on Saturday? Sacrilege!

Along these lines, San Francisco announced that Sundays will no longer mean free metered parking. The city is determined to squeeze every penny from us (well, in Canada, nickels)— no day of rest for the economy. And I’ve already noticed new parking meters with credit card swipes and complicated instructions with numbered spaces. Perhaps soon money itself will be obsolete, everything a plastic card to be swiped. Drug dealers on street corners will have little credit card machines, a candy bar bought at the corner store will need a signature.

Soon I suppose they’ll stop making telephone books and we’ll have to buy a step ladder instead of stacking them to reach something on the top shelf. And there’s already the move to stop making books themselves and CD’s and DVD’s, those physical manifestations of our need for words and tones, stories and music traded for abstract electronic bits floating around in cyberspace. Finally, there’s the move to replace real teachers with screened versions, give up the archaic practice of live people gathered in rooms having conversations and replace it with everyone plugged into their private i-Pad University.

I’d like to write a letter to someone and put on a 44 cent stamp, but I’d miss my penny change, have to pay for parking when I go out on Sunday to buy an envelope, worry that it wouldn’t arrive on time and wonder whether anyone can still read cursive. So instead I’ll just have to voice these thoughts on my cyberspace blog and hope it makes it on someone’s curriculum in Electronic U.

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