Banks weren't open past 4 p.m.. They weren't open on weekends. You didn't tell bank tellers what you wanted. You filled in paper slips that were almost as long as your tax return. You felt about going to the bank the way you feel about going to the gym now ”” "Do I have to do this?" Except the difference was, if you didn't, you couldn't pay your bills/buy food/live.
Before call display and answering machines, the only way to get in touch with people was for you to be home at the same time they were home. As soon as anyone had grocery shopping/soccer practice/dinner plans/a life of any kind, that person was dead to you.
Now we view mailing letters as a quaint, romantic activity, but this used to be how you paid your bills. Paying your bills required envelopes and stamps. Pop quiz: Aside from the local post office you can't get to during work hours, what's the closest place to buy stamps?
Plenty of things that you can now do online you used to only be able to do by visiting a windowless office with fluorescent lights that would kill a part of your soul. Anyone who lived through that era is lucky that souls grow back.
Back in the day, when it was time for my mom to pick me up after figure-skating practice, I'd call her from the payphone. One time, she went out grocery shopping and forgot she was supposed to pick me up. My dad was still at work. I put a quarter in the payphone and called and called and called until I decided to walk home. I ripped a hole in my skate bag and my skates kept falling out onto the sidewalk. It took me two hours to get home. When my mom realized she'd forgotten me, she kept driving to and from the rink and couldn't find me (even though I WAS RIGHT THERE ON THE SIDEWALK WHERE ELSE WOULD I BE HOW COULD YOU NOT SEE ME, MOM) and was panicked that I had been kidnapped.
Here's how that story goes today:
Me (via text): Where are you??
Mom stops pushing her shopping cart. "Oh s**t," she thinks. She abandons her cart mid-aisle.
Mom (via text): On my way. Traffic. Srry :(
7. Dial-Up Internet
You'd spend 15 minutes downloading one photo, get halfway through, then your mom would pick up the phone to call your uncle George to tell him that lemons were on sale and you'd get disconnected and have to start all over again.
We take for granted that if we want to know the hours or address or menu of a place we want to go, we can look it up. You used to have to call. You'd flip to page 7,043 of your phone book and find the number for the McDonald's and dial it and hope they had an automated system, but usually you'd have to ask a real, live person if they still serve breakfast sandwiches at 10:30 a.m. on weekends. And you'd pretend you couldn't hear the teenager on the other end snicker at you, but you always could.
Even if you didn't have a Rolodex specifically, you had something you kept people's phone numbers in, like a little book. If you lost it or spilled wine on it, you couldn't post on Facebook saying, "Lost my contacts! Message me!" You had to ask people directly, but you had no way to do that, since you lost their phone numbers.
The only way to get a movie was to go to the store and rent it or to already own it. So you either had to get up, get clothes on and drive somewhere or you had to hope that when someone said, "Hey, let's watch Jean Claude Van Damme's Timecop," you were psychic enough to know that they were going to say that and you'd already bought it for just such an occasion.
Clothing that makes a comeback either looked pretty good to begin with or someone's created a better-looking version of something that didn't look great. But the truth is that most things that people wore in the past are hideous and, if you don't believe me, go out on the street right now and tell me how many people you'd sleep with if you couldn't see anything about them except their outfits.
First, you had to be much pickier about what you captured on film. When you only got 24 or 36 pictures in a roll, you weren't about to waste a photo on your cousin putting string beans up her nose.
Second, you had no idea what a photo looked like, and there was a good chance everyone had their eyes closed or the person taking the photo put their finger in the picture.
Third, you had to pay money to see your photos and you had to go to a place to get them developed. Sometimes, you'd save up a number of rolls so you wouldn't have to make a bunch of trips and you'd end up waiting a whole year to see that picture of your cousin with the string beans up her nose that you decided to take after all. And you'd get that photo back and you'd look at it and think, "I've wasted my life."
Now if you have a song in your head and you want to hear it, you can hear it. Hell, you can listen to it a thousand times on repeat if you wanted. With the radio, if you had a song in your head, that was usually where it stayed.
"They don't make 'em like they used to" is a thing that people, usually idiots, say. No, they don't make them like they used to ”” they make them about a thousand times safer. Sure, they're nice to look at, but they're death traps, so be glad they no longer rule the road.