Life Tip #166


“You kids don’t know how good you have it!”

This is one of the lamest things we say, but it is still funny, and true. There really is a lot of truth to the “how bad it was when I was your age” advice, relatively speaking. This Life Tip could be its own book.

Perfect example: I could only laugh when my son started the usual complaints about life in the military. We all had them, but his complaints were laughable to me by comparison. I quickly shut my son up on a couple of his complaints by reminding him how lucky he is to be in the military now versus when I was in. Today his mother and I can have a free Skype video conversation with him when he is in Guam or Singapore. When I was in the service, it cost upwards of $20 to have a phone conversation (and those were phone conversations rife with five-second delays, echoes on the line, and unreliable phone cards.)

Today my son can instantly text or email us, or post to social media, from the other side of the world, again free of charge. Way back in the twentieth century, when I wanted to send a message from Europe or South America, I had to hand-write a letter (with an old-fashioned fountain pen and parchment paper). Then I would mail it off, on say, the first of the month, hoping to get a reply by the end of the month. God forbid your correspondence with someone crossed paths in the mail, because then you couldn’t determine whether or not the other person saw your letter before they wrote. Nothing confounds old-fashioned, long-distance communication like a broken sequence of letters.

So, I had a choice back in the day: expensive and crappy phone conversations or communicating over weeks and months by mail, take your pick. The greater irony is that those who came before me had it even worse. Their only option for reaching loved ones when serving overseas was mailing letters.

Take a step back and be grateful for today’s technological miracles. Sure, they come with quirks and annoyances. We complain when we can’t smoothly stream our favorite TV shows…while we’re on the subway train, at the dentist’s office, or on the toilet. Really? We complain when our playlist of 1,000 songs won’t play in the order we like, or when we can’t get the Bluetooth connection to work in our car for the five-mile journey ahead of us. In my day, we just hoped that the car stereo wouldn’t eat our cassette tapes, or that our newly purchased 8-track tape wouldn’t change tracks in the middle of our favorite song.

I still feel bad for my parents, though, because they had to walk to school barefoot in the snow, uphill, both ways.


“A cynic smells flowers and looks for a casket.” ~ Unknown

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