Recently a young friend of mine was lamenting about the old cycle she rides to school. She said her classmates make fun of her because of it. Perception, it seems, matters more then function. It brought to mind when I was growing up. I was the younger of two brothers, so I was the frequent recipient of hand me downs. There was nothing wrong with them, they were just old. You didn’t throw them away because of that.
My first bicycle, like hers, was old too. It was resurrected from a basement where it had lain abandoned for several years. Just a frame, handlebars, and two flat tires. No fenders or chain guard. But, it was beautiful to a young boy who had never had one.
Today we live in a much more remove and replace environment. We want the newest and the best. Think cell phones. I took out my flip phone the other day, and a young lady looked at me like I was dead. I am probably the only one in my neighborhood that has never watched a movie on a tablet, even if I could see it. However, like everyone else, I too am guilty of perpetuating the activity. If I didn’t show up at Goodwill every couple of weeks to drop something off , I suspect they would send me a get well card.
Don’t get me wrong. I am happy that I am able to buy new things to replace the old, whether they need to be replaced or not. It is ironic however, that a few years from now, we will walk into an antique store and say “Oh my gosh!! Do you see that? I remember when we had one of those. Wouldn’t that go great in——-? You fill in the blank, and several dollars later, we have come full circle.
But here’s the rub. We often treat old people the same way. It doesn’t make any difference that we maintain a value, and, for the most part, still function as we always did. Like George Gobel once said “the world is a tuxedo, and we are a pair of brown shoes.” The younger generation is the ‘new and improved’. I see this a lot on my visits each week to the nursing home. There are so many residents that get few or no visitors. For all intents and purposes, removed from the mainstream of life. Relegated to an antique store for people. Only, no one ever comes shopping.
I just turned 76 the other day and, although I am often told I don’t look it, I never argue, partly because I’m afraid they mean I really look older, and partly because I have this fictitious image of how I think I look. However, I have never been told I don’t look old. But I don’t mind, because my age is just a number. Their day will come too, if they are as lucky as I. I have had an excellent shelf life. My contents are as good as when new, even if the wrapper is a little dated. If you blow the dust off, you find that I still work. Maybe a little slower, and requiring a little retrofitting from time to time, but when you do a cost/value analytic , you will generally find that you got your moneys worth. At least, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.