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ANOTHER DAY IN THE COUNTRY:   Do you have plans?

© Another Day in the Country

Do you remember when chitchat was comprised of folks saying, “Hi, how are you?” and you’d usually answer, “Fine, thank you,” even if you were feeling lousy? Then, you’d smile! If it was a friend, you’d probably stop and actually make eye contact. These days it happens on your smart phone with funny little characters that I don’t really understand.

It used to be that if you had the time and you really knew this person, you might stand there and talk about your life for a few minutes. You’d bring each other up-to-date with information about what you’d just been doing, and maybe even where you were going. You might say something like, “We should get coffee sometime,” or “Nice seeing you,” and you’d go on your way.

They tell me, since I’m not a Facebook fan, that a posting on Facebook is the usual format used to keep in contact with family and friends currently. For that reason, I’m not naturally current.

I do know that Facebook is becoming more and more important to the older generation, of which I am a member. My friend, Norma, tells me that she wouldn’t be able to recognize her nieces and nephews, for instance, as they grow up if it weren’t for all the pictures their doting parents post online. I can see how that would be useful. As for me, I’m still dependent on Christmas cards for that “keeping up” experience.

The older I get, the trickier “keeping up” becomes. It is complicated by the fact that there is a long list of new and supposedly better things that I’d just as soon not adopt.

I never learned to do “high fives” for instance. Everybody seems to be doing them. It has become the standard celebration gesture for any and all achievements. “High five, Baba” my grandson says and my first instinct is to look at him bewildered. “What for?” and then I awkwardly join in. I’m really not good at high fives.

It took me quite awhile to do business “online.” I still don’t really trust it. I prefer getting actual paper statements and writing paper checks. I like touching things like books and pens. Them I trust. I have taken to “shopping online,” with great gusto, however.

For the generation that preceded me, shopping from catalogs was the new experience. My Aunt Gertie loved doing her Christmas shopping by mail order. It was such fun to peruse the pages of her favorite catalogs and then miraculously have those items appear in the mail. Double excitement from the comfort of her arm chair. Now, catalogs are going extinct.

I’ve noticed there’s the opportunity to “chat” with someone online as I attempt doing business. Really? I think I’d have to be pretty desperate to resort to chatting with a computer.

Chatting in person is definitely becoming a more limited experience. To call a company and find a real person to talk with is a bygone luxury. Instead, I find myself talking to a robotic recording. When an actual human being answers the phone I feel elated, triumphant. It’s a victory for humanity. “High five.”

A while back at the dentist, I got a shot to numb my jaw and I’m lying back in the chair as the young, new, dentist enters the room. “Hi, Pat,” he says cheerily even though he really doesn’t know me. “You have any plans for this afternoon?”

“Do I have plans?” Should I attempt an answer with a rubber tongue? I don’t think they really want to know — then why ask? Fingers and instruments are messing around in my mouth. What kinds of plans, exactly, would they like to hear about? “I’ll cry all afternoon at how much this costs” or “Let’s get this done quickly, I’m flying out of Wichita in a couple of hours,” or what? As the drill buzzes, I contemplate this attempt to connect. Who teaches this Facebook and iPhone generation the skill of reaching out to a real person?

Yesterday, I was at my favorite grocery store where the people who bag your food also carry it out to your car. I love this service and they do it for everyone, not just senior citizens. Being true Kansans, we usually talk about the weather, “Lovely day, isn’t it?” or “Brrrr, that’s a chilly wind.”

On this occasion, I’m walking toward the car with this young chap pushing the cart. I point out my car, “You can put that in the back seat,” I tell him, opening the door.

It’s just another day in the country and out of the blue, he says, “Do you have plans for this afternoon?”

I laughed right out loud.

“You mean besides putting away all these groceries?” I answer.

Perhaps it’s a trend. I’ve got to think of a catchier comeback.

Last modified Oct. 31, 2018

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