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Signs That You’re Getting Old

You know you’re getting old when something so common when “yesterday” is hard to find today. Case in point - this weekend we had to go school supply shopping. On the list was (1) 60 minute audio cassette. No big deal right?

Wrong.

We were at Target when we tried to find the tape. For the life of me I wouldn’t have thought this was difficult. Our first stop was the Electronics section. Endless rows of DVD’s, CD’s, MP3 players and gift cards for iTunes lined the store, but not a single audio tape. Not one. MiniDV, 8MM video tape, but nothing for music.

OK, so maybe they stock them over in the Office Supply section. We headed over there to find the tape. Surely it might be there if it wasn’t in Electronics.

Nope. Still not tapes.

We checked the checkout lanes, where tapes used to be stocked in mass quantities just a few years ago. Again, nothing. I could by Pokemon cards, USB memory sticks and pseudo-fancy chocolates from some mass producer with a great marketing department, but no damn tapes.

Then it hit me. When was the last time I needed a tape? How many years had it been? Hell, when was the last time I even listened to a tape (wait I know that, I listened to Richard Feynman’s Lectures on Physics because I found it on sale for $2.00)? The good old audio cassette was going the way of the 8-Track. A part of my youth was disappearing before my eyes.

Remember making mixed-tapes and giving them to your girlfriend, or recording barely listenable tapes straight from the radio? No question, technology makes the tape nearly obsolete. CD’s make exact copies for your mixes, Sirius radio allows you to record your broadcast flawlessly, even if you’re not listening. iPods allow you to hold your entire music collection on a matchbook sized device. All of them do a better job than the poor old tape ever did. And yet….

I can’t help feeling older. Seeing your past disappear quietly, without fanfare, without notice is unsettling. The march of progress never stops, never tires, even if we fail to pay attention to it. One day you wake up and realize you’re the like the guy reminiscing about a 78 record player or listening to Jack Benny on the radio. One day you realize you’re old.

At least until we found the tapes at the grocery store. I feel better already.


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3 Comments in 3 threads.»

Comment by Ken Grandlund
2007-08-13 12:56:51

Hey- I still listen to cassettes in my car (a 95 Mazda) because it has a stock cassette player in it. I have a bazillion cassettes too- old yes, but great quality. (I always spent a few extra bucks for the good brands.)

I still have the first cassette I ever made back in ‘81 and it sounds as good as it did then, even after tons of use. Too bad they don’t make things so well anymore.

 
Comment by Jet Netwal
2007-08-13 08:15:49

I felt old this weekend too, but it was because I had to get 256 mb drives for my third graders. They’re already folding up the floppy. Sheesh. By the time I’m 70, there will be full time positions as technology aides to the aged.

 
Comment by Tom Harper Subscribed to comments via email
2007-08-13 03:06:18

The same thing happened to me. A couple of years ago I wanted to buy some more blank tapes, since I was out of them. Nobody had them. I finally found a 7-pack of them at some huge discount place.

Believe it or not, the record industry used to be terrified of people taping songs off the radio. This was the ’70s and ’80s counterpart of burning CDs and downloading music off the Internet, and people who did this were “responsible” for bringing the record industry to its knees.

 
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