I can still remember being stranded on the side of the road in the middle of the night on my way home from college for the holidays. I was only 19. It was cold, and there wasn’t a town for 30 miles.
That was a common occurrence in those days. It was one of the things parents who sent their daughters to college worried about. A tale like that makes about as much sense to today’s teenagers as stories about gas rationing and bread lines made to me when I was young.
I remember when cell phones first came out. I actually didn’t want one. I found the idea that people could track me down wherever I was a bit unnerving. After my boys were born, I recognized the value in being able to call for help from the car or grocery store, and gave in.
Now it’s hard to imagine living without my phone. My son can text me to say, “pick me up” or “I’m going to a friend’s house.” And if he forgets, I can always call him to find out where he is. I worry less about what’s going on with my family, because I know I can call or text them at any time.
Work Anywhere, Play Anywhere
I’ll never forget the first laptop I got from my employer. I was traveling all over the US working with physician practices. When I started that job, there was one computer in our office shared by about 20 people. Then we got the laptops, and everything changed.
The up side was, I could write follow up documentation of my visit on the plane ride to the next client and electronically transmit it to the last client’s fax machine from my hotel room. The down side was, I could basically work all the time, and I did.
Recently I caught a segment on National Public Radio (NPR) about Millennial generation kids entering the work force. Apparently, they’re much more apt to mix work and pleasure, which makes a lot of sense, because this is the first generation to grow up with portable, individual electronic devices. They can text their friends at work, or take phone calls from clients at a party.
The new portability of industry allowed me to work from home on my computer part time when I was on maternity leave with my first child, and a few days here and there when the boys were little.
A New Business Model
I run an eBay business from home in my “off” hours. It’s a relatively easy kind of business for an individual to get into – a kind of business that didn’t even exist until a few years ago.
I also shop on line, often having gift purchases shipped directly to the recipient. I buy text books for my son and have them shipped to his dorm room. It’s easy to quickly compare prices and options on the computer, and saves lots of time and aggravation running around from store to store.
On line shopping will probably never completely replace the brick and mortar kind. There are some things you just want to see, touch and try on. Then there’s the social aspect of shopping – meeting friends for lunch and a browse. That’s still impossible to replicate on a computer.
I can remember being furious with my Mom for making me miss my favorite TV show because we were late getting home (it was “The Hardy Boys” okay?). Fortunately, my kids will never know the agony of having to decide between an episode of “Doctor Who?” and a party, ball game or mandatory shopping trip with their mom.
My kids don’t even watch the TV anymore. They watch their shows on line whenever they feel like it. As for myself, I’m addicted to the DVR. In fact I’ve become something of a slave to the device’s space limitations, sometimes forcing myself to watch just one more show so I can free up room to record something else.
I guess it’s time to break down and buy that one terabyte portable hard drive.
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