Friday, December 31, 2021

The Old and the New


The other night I looked at this sight on my kitchen island and something inside me snapped.

I sighed a deep sigh and went on Facebook. 

Does anyone still have/use a breadbox?

I was surprised by how many people said yes. I thought that breadboxes had gone out of fashion long ago. My last memory of a breadbox in daily use was the avocado green one my mother picked out to go with her stylish new kitchen in the 1970’s. 

Since then I’ve gone through times of keeping all bread in the refrigerator, the freezer, and then, recently, out on the kitchen counter. But at some point a two tiered, brushed nickel fruit holder morphed into bread storage. I don’t really know how. I do know that the idea of keeping fresh fruit around on the kitchen island was purely aspirational. 

Those people who said they’d definitely eat more fruit if we did this? Well, I won’t name them.

So as I contemplate a new year I’m looking into something which I consider deeply retro, something that harkens back to Mom in the kitchen and kids playing in the yard: a breadbox. I must admit that it feels like I’m going to be engaging in historical re-enactment, but, anything would be better than the tower of carbohydrates I have now.

Speaking of retro, how many of you have and use a landline in your home for communication purposes? It seems as though that number may be lower than I thought. While applying for social security benefits I got to the final stages of approval only to see the entire process derailed because I had made one little mistake.

When filling out an online form, I listed my landline as my telephone number instead of my cellphone. 

That’s it. That one tiny piece in pages and pages of forms and accompanying documentation borked the whole thing. And you can’t go back in and fix it, either. I had several telephone conversations (on my landline, I might add) with a nice SSA employee in Colorado who assured me that no one has landlines anymore. 

This was when I felt one million years old. 

It took a while for her to admit that she was currently dealing with a handful of applicants who had made the same “mistake”. There was a workaround. I had to mail my passport to Colorado. (It’s expired. That didn’t matter for the purposes of this verification.) I have no idea how this worked, but it did. It’s a mystery, and I thank the endlessly patient woman from the Social Security Administration.

But here’s the thing: who is most likely to still have and use a landline? Cough, cough…older people…cough, cough. And who is most likely to be applying for social security retirement benefits?

(Insert Jeopardy music here.)

To have the entire process hinge on entering a cell phone number rather than a landline number seems…counterintuitive (if you are dealing with people over the age of sixty.) I suppose it’s an example of the people designing the form being so much younger than the people using it, and just not imagining that there’s another way to think.

It wasn’t the end of the world. Everything turned out fine in the end, and it was truly educational. I’m left wondering if this was a message from the universe to let go of what I have always called my “home phone.”

Today is the last day of the old year. I find myself weighing the benefits of buying a breadbox and what, if any, would be the consequences of saying goodbye to my landline. These two decisions feel interconnected to me: the old, the new, nostalgia, cognitive dissonance, adapting to change.

Farewell, old year. May the new year be gentle on everyone who is navigating unexpected challenges. 

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