My reading companion just got one of those Kindle gadgets for reading books. She is now able to download hundreds of books and keep them as long as she wants or delete them when she is through.
Am I jealous? Well just a little bit. I have been saving all the books that I have read as kind of a testimonial to my brilliance, and besides some of them have some really cool covers.
I manage to leave the really intellectual ones lying out in the open — like Steven Hawking’s A Brief History of Time. I didn’t understand a word of it but people are impressed that I read it. I also have Clauswitz’s On War. I understood most of that. The point is that I could now have all these and more in a little quarter-inch thick electronic toy and no one would notice how smart I am.
What will I do with all those bookshelves in my house? I began to imagine my grandchildren telling their children how in the old days people used to have things called books that were stacks of paper bound together and you had to turn each page in order to read them. They will tell how they used to visit grandpa’s house and he had shelves full of these things.
Of course the kids will have a hard time imagining this and will get bored hearing about it just like my kids do when I tell them how I used to sit in front of a radio and imagine what was going on as the Lone Ranger rode off shouting “Hi Ho, Silver, Away.” They never will believe that there were large buildings called libraries, just to house these strange stacks of paper so that people could borrow them to read. “Ridiculous,” they will say.
I recently purchased a device called a turntable with a USB plug to connect to my computer so that I can record my vinyl records to digital format if I ever get around to it. A young person walked into my office recently and exclaimed, “What is that thing?” I was going to show him my collection of eight-track tapes also but thought he had seen enough for one day.
Remember wedding albums? I have one and suggested to my archivist that it might be an idea to scan all the photos and place them on a DVD. Her reply… “Who would care?” OK, let them turn yellow in the album. Most of the people in the photos are long gone anyway.
Speaking of obsolete, did you ever hear the term “drummer” — not the kind that plays with a rock group, but the kind who went from place to place selling goods? It was a common term back in the old days and that was the way most goods got sold.
Then came the peddlers. I remember as a child the peddler coming to my house each week to sell my mother a new appliance or kitchen gadget. She would pay weekly for these things, usually 25 to 50 cents and each time he came to collect, it was another opportunity to sell something.
The other day I received a call from a guy I had known for many years in the electronics business. He is an independent sales representative (rep) — another vanishing species. He had just been notified by one of his major suppliers that his services no longer were needed.
This story is being repeated over and over as manufacturers and distributors of goods feel that they no longer need the direct contact of a salesperson. After all there is the Internet, webinars, You Tube, etc. — all much cheaper than paying commission to someone just to carry a sample to a customer, demonstrate it and write an order, something I myself did for many years.
I loved the travel in the good old days when it was fun. I loved the interaction with customers and making new friends and customers using my knowledge and personality to my advantage. That will be another story for my grandkid’s kids to make fun of. I can always say like Willy Loman: “I killed them in Miami.”
Previous articles by Councilmember Sochin are available on line at www.sochin.com.