Getting old??? Who, me????

Muriel from BlogIn a “Fundraising for Non-Profits” class I took  a few years ago, I was the only gray-haired person in attendance. We discussed money and donations. During a chat with a fellow classmate I realized how much things have changed during my lifetime. I was describing to him how I used to prepare the payroll as a bookkeeper in the 1950s.

In the clothing manufacturing firm I worked for, salaries were paid in cash every Friday, sealed in separate little pay envelopes. It had to be figured out ahead of time, which meant deciding how much was earned either by the hour, or for piece work, or salary — depending on the employee. After deductions were made, I counted how many pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters, one, two, five, ten or twenty dollar bills were required  and called the bank on Thursday to order it.

I counted the cash and filled the pay envelopes

I counted the cash and filled the pay envelopes

Come Friday, a trembling me walked over to the bank to pick up the cash, which was probably over $4,000 — a fortune to the scared 17-year-old I was then. The responsibility terrified me and I dreaded it. I saw thieves everywhere, studied every face, and clutched the bag full of cash close to my chest.

I was 17 and terrified someone would steal it from me

I was 17 and terrified someone would steal it from me

My boss had told me if anyone tried to take it from me, to just give it to them, that we were insured. But, that didn’t make it any easier. I would heave a huge sigh of relief each time I made it back to the office intact, where I carefully filled each envelope, wrote on the front of it the employee’s name and details of tax deductions, etc.

“How silly,” the young man exclaimed, “Why didn’t you just pay by cheque?”

“As a business, we had cheques, but the employees needed their money for the week-end, and most didn’t have chequing accounts anyway. I probably didn’t either.”

“Why couldn’t they just use their credit cards??” he asked, incredulous.

The first credit card was the Diners' Club

The first credit card was the Diners’ Club

“Because there weren’t any yet. I remember when credit cards first came out, the  first one was the Diner’s Club, sometime during the 1950s. And, it wasn’t easy to get and besides, it frightened us — we had never dealt with them before. Now, sometimes I think maybe we were right…

Maybe we were right..

Maybe we were right..

Of course, throughout this young man’s lifetime credit cards and cheques have always been available. People now buy what they want today and pay for it later. At that time, we paid for it first and then got it, either by saving up the amount we needed, or using the lay-a-way method — choosing the item and having the store hold it for us until it was fully paid for. We knew how to wait….

This conversation made me feel really old……

Well, I am getting old. I know because I have a child who is 50. I remember that I used to think 50 was ancient. When I turned 50,  daughter Susan, who has a sense of humour, could not imagine having a mother of 50. She searched high and low for a gift that would be older than me — and bought me a fossil. I’m getting ready to give it back to her when she reaches 50 — not that far off anymore. (Ah, revenge is sweet!!!)

I know I’m getting old when I am with family or friends and look around  and everyone is younger than I am. I mention names of movie stars and young people I’m talking to don’t know who they are. I hear on the news that famous contemporaries have died, and note that some of them were much younger than I am.

I can tell what the weather will be like by how much my knees ache. And although my children are extremely patient when I goof with my tenuous relationship with today’s technology, I wonder…. Would I be able to text? Would I be able to handle an I-Phone?

They laugh at my tenuous relationship with technology

I have a tenuous relationship with technology

(My son could not believe I was once trained as a radar technician. But that was eons ago and I was young enough to grasp and remember stuff like that without writing it down.)

These days I know the word I want but sometimes can’t retrieve it — seems like there are too many files floating around in my reluctant old brain. I get invited to more celebrations of life and funerals than I do to parties. I visit friends in hospital, and they’re not having babies.

I visit friends in hospital, and they're not having babies.

I visit friends in hospital, and they’re not having babies.

The professionals who handle my accounting or insurance needs are all kids — I remember when that wasn’t so.

My doctors get younger and younger and I seem to need them more often. My teeth have to be cleaned more than twice a year and I keep thinking how grateful I am to still have them.

Are they old enough to treat me and know what they are doing?????

Are they old enough to treat me and know what they are doing?????

Need I say more???

14 thoughts on “Getting old??? Who, me????

  1. I got paid in an envelope too when I worked weekends at The Bay in the early 60’s. Not long ago, I referred to my Visa card as my Chargex card – the people I was with cracked up laughing, except for the one who was too young to know what the joke was. But in Quebec when I was there (1967-68-69), women still couldn’t have a credit card without the signature of a male family member. We weren’t allowed to sign leases, either. Do you have any idea when all that changed?

    btw, texting is simple, & you don’t need an iPhone – I do it on my archaic Nokia. It IS useful sometimes, as long as you don’t have a kid on the other end who plays text-tag rather than making a 2-minute phone call.

  2. Lovely stuff, as always Muriel. I have posted a plug and a link to your blog on my facebook page and I see that mutual friend Steve Rosenberg has done the same. It will be interesting to see how many readers you pick up. Seasonal hugs and general jollification my dear. Maybe 2014 will be the year that we lunch!

  3. You don’t need to give me the fossil — I KNOW I’m getting old! My hair is grey, my hands are arthritic, I’ve got a hiatus hernia…I think I have crossed over into the land of the “Over the Hill”, for sure!

  4. This is great, Muriel! Lately I’m looking at who we are as humans, which means looking at what brought us to this point in life. So I’ve been thinking about things like what you discussed here – how things were a just a few decades ago with how we handled money, compared to now.

    We tend to just take whatever way it is now for granted, as if this is the only one, true reality. But there are so many, many different ways of approaching things. Just because we have free and easy, unimpeded access to spending, doesn’t mean that the previous approach didn’t have its advantages.

    Modern technology, like the printing press invented in the 1500’s or written language invented a couple thousand years ago, does have its cons, as well as its pros.

    I guess as we experience more variety of time periods, this allows us to step back a little further and take in a wider view.

    Things can be done so many different ways, other than the one we just happen to be using at the moment….


    Thanks for posting this, Muriel – this is great to see a summerization of our lives, and of reality… A peer of Karen and mine’s, in his mid-50’s, died of complications from pneumonia and diabetes without having a chance to get to a hospital.
    – That really brought home to me, that just like our current fads, we ourselves are temporary…

    The strength of who we are as a human being, is that we are an idea – no more than that, but also no less than the greatness that is the very idea of our Self.

  5. Thank you for a very nice read – I’ve only just come to it, after Christmas with everyone gone and the house empty except for Elsa the ginger cat.
    I remember the Diners Club card, but unlike you I can’t remember if I ever actually had one. I forget words too, and look them up afterwards and write them in my iPod Touch in the fond hope that the act of writing them down will help me to remember in future. Since I carry if with me I can always look up my lost words at any time, too.
    Very best wishes from me (and Elizabeth) for the New Year to you and yours. Do keep writing! Your written thoughts are an amazing gift, considering that we only met once, and then only for coffee!

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