For the kid who has everything, a piece of a baby boomer's mind

THE FLIP SIDE

October 13, 1994|By Kevin Cowherd | Kevin Cowherd,Sun Staff Writer

This kid with a nose ring and shaved head was on MTV whining about how tough his generation has it compared to his parents' generation, and I thought: "Ex-cuse me?"

Maybe we didn't walk 10 miles to school each day, but we baby boomers had lots of other hardships growing up.

You kids today, you don't know how lucky you are.

Take those remote control clickers. You know, when I was your age, we didn't even have clickers.

If you wanted to change the channel, you had to actually stand up and walk three or four feet to the TV.

Lots of times the floors weren't carpeted, either, so your feet could get pretty darn cold.

And even if the floors were carpeted, it wasn't that deep-pile stuff, so it felt sort of rough and scratchy.

Plus the floor was always covered with games and puzzles and stuff, so there was always the chance you could trip and sprain an ankle if you weren't careful.

I'm telling you, things were rough back then.

Pizza -- there's another example. You know, when I was your age, you couldn't even have pizza delivered to your home!

Hey, don't look at me like that! I'm serious!

If you wanted pizza in those days, you had to actually jump in your car and drive to the pizza parlor to get it.

Sometimes the ride could take, oh, five or six minutes, depending on the traffic.

Often, by the time you got home with your pizza, it wasn't even hot anymore, just sort of lukewarm.

But we ate it anyway. Heck, we didn't know any better.

Life was difficult back then. There's no sense pretending it wasn't.

ATMs . . . you know, when I was your age, we didn't even have ATMs. Honest.

If you wanted to take money out of the bank, you had to actually walk into the bank and talk to someone.

Really.

First you filled out something called a withdrawal slip, which I'm not even going to get into here. It's too complicated.

Then you stood in line behind these little velvet ropes until one of the people who worked for the bank -- it seems to me they were called tellers -- waited on you.

Can you imagine?

All that hassle just to get 20 bucks?

I look back on it now and I think: How did we do it?

Telephone answering machines. This will probably freak you kids out, but when I was your age, we didn't even have telephone answering machines.

You think I'm kidding, but I'm not.

This is how bad it was back then: If the person you were trying to reach wasn't home, you had to just keep calling until he was

home.

You couldn't leave a message for him at all.

I remember one night I dialed my friend Timmy's house four different times before someone finally answered the phone.

I still have the callouses on my finger from dialing.

It turned out Timmy and his folks had gone out for dinner. Nice of them to let me know.

Everything was tougher in those days.

Jobs. When I was your age, I was breaking my back, working 5, 5 1/2 hours a day in a pharmacy stocking shelves with Milk of Magnesia and straightening the magazine rack.

Working conditions? Don't ask. The radio was stuck on AM. The air-conditioning was just OK. We got a lousy half-hour for lunch.

But back then, you didn't complain.

You just made do.

See this scar on my thumb? I know it's small, but . . . you know how I got it?

One day I was opening a box of Hallmark cards at the pharmacy and one of the staples nicked me. Needed two Band-aids to cover that baby.

There wasn't a whole lot of blood, no. But it stung!

I don't know, life back then was so draining. I'm looking out the window now, thinking back to those dark days and . . . hey, you see that big highway out there?

What is that, the Jones Falls Expressway?

You know, when I was your age, we didn't even have a Jones Falls Expressway.

To get downtown from, say, Towson, you had to take Charles Street. Yeah. With all the stop lights and everything.

Back then, the trip took, like, 25 minutes.

What does it take now, 21?

I rest my case.

You kids today, you don't know how lucky you are.

Please. Don't get me started.

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