By Joe Rector

I discovered that we no longer have to wait for our drinks to chill before consuming them. Someone with too little to do in life insists that all of our favorite liquids can be instantly icy by spraying them with compressed air. Remember when we had to fill ice trays with water and wait for the cubes to freeze before cooling a glass of tea or lemonade? We simply wasted our time. Today, all of us are in a hurry.

In the good old days, our contact with folks out of town or state or the country was left to letter writing. Long distance calling raised phone bills too much. So, we’d sit down for a while and compose a letter. In those ancient times, we’d even take the time to write neatly enough so that our friends and family members could read the latest news about home and loved ones.

These days, only a handful of stubborn folks continue to write on paper and then place the epistle in an envelope and allow the U.S. Postal Service to deliver it for us. Instead, we turn on the computer, connect to our email accounts, and peck away. The trouble is, such correspondence loses that personal touch of a letter. If email isn’t available, millions quick-draw their cell phones and thumb out messages. They are filled with grammatical mistakes, misspellings, and “text-talk” letters that only the savviest of users can decode.

I’ve written before about the party lines that households shared. If a person wanted to make a call, she’d have to pick up the receiver to see if the line was clear. If not, she would have to wait her turn. The phone was stationary, so callers were limited in movement to the distance the phone cord would stretch.

Cell phones have freed folks from such limitations. Those devices are with most of us at all times. Heaven forbid that we should miss a call from someone. The phones place calls with the push of a single button or an oral command. If a person doesn’t answer, a message can be left; no one has to redial anymore. These wonderful devices are increasingly becoming factors in car accidents and fatalities. To be honest, I don’t really have that much important or pressing stuff to say; it can wait until I’m parked somewhere, preferably in my recliner or office chair.

When the Internet first became a widely used thing, people reached it through use of a dial-up connection. If the call was successful, that familiar group of tones mixed with static would begin, and with just a bit of luck, a home page would appear. Most of us were scared to death of tearing something up when we used the Internet, and our computer time included that familiar phrase, “You’ve got mail!”

Nowadays, most of us are speed junkies when it comes to connecting to the Internet. We want lightning quick service and will jump to the company that offers the fastest. Those with more money change computers like they change underwear as they purchase ones that connect to the worldwide web in the blink of an eye.

Yes, in the days of old, deprived peoples in communities across the country received signals from 3 major television networks. Actually, only 2 came in clear; the third depended upon either a bit of luck with clear weather or a special antenna strapped to the chimney or side of the house. Even then, viewing time was limited to the hours of 6 a.m. to midnight. The rest of the time the screen was covered in snow or a test pattern.

Modern television has cable and satellite television services. VIewers can receive hundreds of channels, most of which we don’t ever watch anyway. Subscribers have only a few favorite channels but must pay for the others to receive the ones they like. The screen never goes blank unless we push the remote control off button; no, none of us is about to rise from our chairs to switch channels. Who’d have ever thought we’d pay such a hefty ransom for the shows that are broadcast to our homes?

We have become an impatient bunch. Our lives are much longer than the ones folks lived just 50 years ago. However, they are lived in a perpetual state of hurry. Some call it the demand for instant gratification. Perhaps that is correct. I do know that in most areas of life we repeat that famous line from the commercial, “…and I want it now!”