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Explaining "the Good Ol' Days"

April 3, 2012 - Jennifer Brookens
Last weekend, the family took a road trip up to Mankato; just a little something to break up the monotony. Usually, one of the things we do is pick up a Papa Murphy's pizza on the way back (I got hooked on their Chicken Garlic pizza about 10 years ago). But this time, my daughter noticed that the big Blockbuster store was closed, leaving Papa Murphys the only business in the building.

"What was Blockbuster anyway," she asked. It was funny that I had to explain what a video rental place was to her. Admittedly, we hadn't rented movies much after she was born. I actually found myself using the phrase, "Back when I was your age," and how that was a brand-new technology for us then. Before the VCR player, the only way you could see movies was in the theater, or wait until they showed it on broadcast TV. The second option came with cable channels that showed movies, but the channels cost $15-$20 extra. Then when the VCR and movie rentals came around, it was a big deal and a breakthrough: watching movies almost anytime you like at home!

"But it really was a hassle," I told my daughter, even though I loved renting movies all through my high school and college years. I never minded the hassle back then; it was just what you had to do. But I found myself listing the problems: the popular movies never had enough copies, the stores were only open certain hours, and bringing things back even an hour late resulted in another day's worth of rental fees. As I listened to myself, it really sounded like a hardship and taxing: $3 for a new movie rental for one night VS the $8 a month we pay for Netflix and unlimited viewings of whatever we can find on there anytime we want.

"Wow," was all my daughter said. I couldn't tell if she was impressed with our so-called hardships, or just got bored with our explanation. I can only imagine what will be the next generation's gripe for "hardships," such as "We only had smartphones that could tell us stuff, but we still had to charge it, and transporters weren't even invented yet." (Can't wait for those transporters - being able to vacation anyplace in the world at a moment's notice, and not having to be herded through cattle chutes onto an airplane! Not to mention finally being able to thumb our noses at Big Oil!)

Guess we just have to stay tuned to see what's next, and what other trends will just be part of "the good ol' days."


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