In 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.
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.
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.
“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…
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?
(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.
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.
Need I say more???