Birthdays seem like a good time to give thanks for making it through another year and perhaps a time to look back on what you’ve seen and experienced in your lifetime.
My birthday is coming up this month and I consider it one of the unimportant ones since it doesn’t end in a zero and doesn’t put me in a new age bracket for running. Somewhat sad to say, I’ve reached the age where I’m usually in the older age group for racing.
Being a pastor, I have performed funerals for people much older than me, some in their 90s or even over 100 years old. As I conducted their services, I thought about how many changes they had seen in their lifetime.
Recently, to celebrate our wedding anniversary, we took a short trip to stay in a relatively new hotel that had been converted from an old building. It was interesting to see the old style architecture. Also during our stay we saw that the business with the hotel was developed in a more modern way. Both of these things made me look back on my days growing up in St
Technology was certainly different back then. What technology? I remember that every other Friday was payday for my dad, and on those days the family would load up in the car for him—a routine trip to the bank, which was maybe five miles away. Our family, like many others, was there to receive the paychecks at the travel destination.
There were usually long lines to greet families and to help speed things up, a person would come to your car and take your check and deposit slip and drive it to the bank. It wasn’t too bad queuing most of the time, but during the winter it could be more trying.
From the bank it was to the local gas station where a doctor would come out to pump your gas, wash your windshield and check your oil if needed. You sit in the car and wait for them to perform their service. I don’t remember my dad using a credit card to pay. If he had some money, he would ask the attendant to put it “in the book” and he would pay later. No credit check was performed, there was a trust between the customer and the owner.
Now that’s not how it works, is it? With online banking, you don’t have to do business at the bank, you can use your phone. I’m not at the point where I stop going to the bank yet. My progress ends in checking my phone balances. Pumping your own gas is probably the only method available, although I saw some stations offering to pump it for you during the COVID pandemic. Oh, there’s a wiper available if you want to wash your windshield.
Back to our hotel stay. I would consider the hotel a very modern place both in the decor (took a while to figure out how to use the water features) and especially in their staff. Transactions are made through your phone. The only time I saw a staffed front desk was at our check out time. That time was forwarded to us by text. There was a number to call if the table was empty. Breakfast time was self-service, which is not usual. The difference was that there was no staff nearby to check the condition of the food. Some of the food was a little on the unappealing side.
When it came time to check out, everything was done over the phone with no paperwork involved. Did I enjoy the stay? Yes, but I don’t think I’m ready for the lack of staff and most of the business being done over the phone. Wondering what happens if you don’t have a smartphone?
Times keep changing and it will be interesting to see where things are in five or 10 years. I think I better get more comfortable with my phone as my visits to the bank to conduct business will be obsolete. Good or not so good, technology is the way of the future. Technology can be a wonderful thing, when it works.
Stephen Taylor is a Pleasant Hill resident and retired minister.