‘Obsolescence: They don’t make things like they used to’

Jul 11, 2020
From televisions and radios to cash and telephones, there are so many items doomed to obsolescence. Source: Getty Images

I opened the can in the kitchen, just a small cute can, and looked inside. What’s this? Cash. Notes. My cache of money for the lawnmower man. I haven’t needed it for so long. The lawn’s not growing and I’ve just done Tap and Go for everything.

obsolescence
Who keeps money in a tin these days? Source: Barbara Stacey

This is obsolete stuff now. Or nearly. Like cheques. They’re rarely used now and I see the banks think it’s time they went.

I lost my credit card recently and went to pay the dentist in cash. They were horrified. They had no change so I owe them $30 next visit.

Our Art Deco bank has now been converted to cute units and alas the bank manager, who lived above, is redundant. So many things now are becoming obsolete.

For heaven’s sake don’t buy shares in birthday/Christmas card companies, like the posh Sands cards or camera companies like Kodak. Those companies will soon be a thing of the past. I nearly chucked a whole pile of birthday cards out in my coronavirus clean up and then thought, wait! These will be wanted by some museum soon just like the ones I’ve seen that soldiers sent to their loved ones in the war along with postcards. Does anyone send postcards?

Did I mention the mail? Well that’s on the way out too. My post box is only cleared twice weekly now.

Think of Cobb and Co and the mail arriving whatever the weather. It always looked so romantic in those old paintings. Coronavirus has given it an extra push off. Please send an email. They’re cheap, instant, and boring.

Albums for putting your treasured photos? They’re just digital on your computer now. If you do decide to print them the colours don’t seem to last. Yes, I know there are magic firms you organise online and your book is professionally done. It arrives neat and tidy in the mail. But so what? Still doesn’t have that loving touch you would have put into it, with your dreadful handwriting and tatty corners where the glue didn’t work.

You can’t pore over digital ones like you can in a real album. And as for digital birthday or Christmas cards? Delete I say. That person has put no effort into your card at all. We’re supposed to be childishly amused when you touch something and it lights up or moves. Bah humbug! I would rather receive a phone call any day.

Phone call? Hardly any of those any more. First you must text to make a time to call, otherwise people are disturbed at the wrong time. Hopeless. You book a time to call.

My new iPhone does all sorts of wonderful things, but occasionally it doesn’t like my morning face. Well, neither do I, so I have put in the code to open it. It also sulks if I change to different glasses. Really? The old phone was just grateful to be of service.

Do you wear a wristwatch? If you have anything on your wrist it’s likely to be a medical device not only telling you time but heart stuff and how many minutes of restful sleep you’ve managed and how many steps your poor old legs have managed today. Nothing elegant, just a lumpy gadget on your arm.

Does anyone remember the days when part of the housekeeping jobs included, ‘doing the flowers’. I was just cutting stems shorter on the stocks I’d bought to cheer myself up and amalgamating them with a vase of flowers from the garden, when I thought, “Who does this anymore?” When I was kid this was a most sought after job. Who’s doing the flowers today?

We’d rush to the garden with scissors and look for likely blooms. Sometimes it was just lovely leaves of some interesting bush, other times beautiful flowers or gum leaves from the bush. They were much prized especially if they were those lovely young gum tips in shades of see though red.

If we went on a picnic (“What! a picnic”, I hear you say, “who goes on picnics today? Too much traffic,” etc.) we’d be keeping our eyes out for some lovely red gum tips that Mum loved the best. Now you’re not allowed to pick things in the bush and take them home. You buy artificial ones, which look so real and don’t need anything but a dust now and then. They even sit in pretend water. I notice they change them now and then in offices so there’s a new business for you.

You could think of heaps of items now obsolete. I’m making a list and putting myself on it.

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