The twins are yet to be named because they’re still in the womb of my beautiful daughter-in-law, Viviana, whom I affectionately call “Bones.”
They ask me, “Jiddo (Arabic for grandfather), what is a Post Office?” Well, dear grandsons of mine, that’s a building where people used to go to mail things. You had to stand in incredibly long lines to get waited on by very irritable people, who insisted on you staying in line and behind the counter. You would then mail something that had a reasonable chance of arriving in a week or two.
“Where did Post Offices go Jiddo?” The answer is they went the way of the dinosaur… and they disappeared. They were replaced by email, Instagram, Twitter, Skype, Snap-chat and kinder, cheaper and better organized institutions like UPS and Fed Ex. People who used to get their junk mail from the Post Office now get it by email along with their bills, which they pay the same way they received them, on-line. They don’t write checks anymore.
“Jiddo, what’s a check?” Checks are no longer used, dear grandsons of mine. They too began to disappear about the time you were born in 2015.
“How do you pay your bills Jiddo?” You use your phone, your wristwatch or your computer to transfer the money to the person you owe, like I do with you when you have a goodreport card. “Jiddo, we saw a scrapbook of yours that had newspaper articles in it that you wrote. They were in a column you called ‘Behind the Mike.’
Jiddo, what is a newspaper?”
Again, about the time you were born, newspapers began to fade away from print to electronic versions, like you dad reads to you. Since the rise of internet devices, online reading has made the newspaper almost extinct. They went the way of the milkman or the laundry man.
“Jiddo, we have copies of all your books. How come your new books aren’t printed anymore?”
Dear grandsons of mine, books began to disappear about the time of my eighth book, “It’s the Customer, Stupid!” Even then 90 percent of the books we were selling were e-books, just like your electronic books
you use in school.
“Jiddo, we were watching one of your speeches on Netflix and another on YouTube. They’re a lot different than those old VHS tapes and audiocassette tapes that existed 50 years ago that we found in your office. How do you play those?”
You don’t dear grandsons. You have to find a yard sale and you might get lucky to find a video recorder or audiocassette player to play them.
“Jiddo, you must have used five cell phones taking the video in those days because there are a lot of different angles.”
Those “angles” were five different cameras dear grandsons of mine, not cell phones.
“Jiddo, when we visit your office, we found a machine that was a telephone with a line in the wall. You can’t take that with you! So why do you have it?” they inquired.
That’s for my alarm system dear grandsons of mine, which was installed before your father was born. I’m too cheap to change it out. Did you realize that when I was a child like you, we had something called ‘party lines’ which meant that you shared your phone line with the neighbors?
“Could they listen to your phone call to your girl friends?” they asked. When I was your age I didn’t have girlfriends! “You won’t have to worry about that with us Jiddo. We’re 10 years old and we hate girls!” I thought to myself… that will change dear grandsons of mine.
“Jiddo, we also noticed another device at your office that has a keyboard,” they said in an excited voice. “It’s awesome! You can type on it and the printer is built right into the machine.”
That’s called a typewriter my dear grandsons. Those are extinct and I keep one around to remind me of how I wrote my first book. “Jiddo we saw a big box in your office that had rabbit ears sticking out of it. What was that?” they inquired.
It was a television, dear grandsons of mine. When I was a child, those rabbit ears helped us to get three… maybe four stations. Then came cable television and there were hundreds of channels. But they’re all extinct now because people get their entertainment on the computer or on their wrist watch. They got tired of listening to five minutes of lawyer commercials every ten minutes. That’s why networks are now extinct!
“Jiddo, why did they call it Cable TV and where did that go?” They priced themselves out of the market and now the people who produce movies and other programs deliver them directly by Netflix to your computer or wristwatch without a bunch of commercials. That’s also how you get your software, movies, music and other documents.
They reside in the “cloud.”
“Jiddo, what happens when the skies are clear and there are no clouds?” Ask your grandmother… she knows everything!
Michael Aun is a syndicated columnist and writes a weekly column for this newspaper. To contact Michael Aun, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.