My father was born in the 1930s, yet much of what he experienced in his childhood and teenage years in the 1940s and ’50s growing up in Montreal, I also went through growing up in the 1970s and ’80s in Toronto. Walking to school, playing hockey on the ice outside in the winter and riding in a car without a seatbelt. We were both exposed to a lot of the same things: AM and FM radio; a limited number of television channels; and a lack of dietary awareness. We were able to drive legally on our own at night in the winter while on the highway at 16 years of age. From sports to school to recreational activities to technology, our experiences were a lot alike.
Life for my children, however, will be very different from what I went through. I was born in 1966 and my children in 1996. They grew up with the internet, DVDs, Netflix, laptops, smartphones, soy-based foods, social media and YouTube. They have hundreds of television channels and even more podcasts. Tattoos, piercings and baldness are all acceptable; smoking cigarettes, off-colour jokes and the combover are not.
With this in mind, here is my top 10 list of things my father and I did that my children will never do:
10. Make a call from a pay phone
I see fewer pay phones when I travel the world, and when I do spot one in the UAE I wonder if it even works.
9. Make a mixtape
An ever popular gesture by men looking to make a romantic move in the era of Pretty in Pink.
8. Write a long-form letter with pen and paper to a romantic partner
Perhaps a long WhatsApp message, but no way will my children (both university students) ever buy proper stationary and sit down with an expensive pen and craft a 500-word missive.
7. Stick a finger in a rotary dial phone
The old rotary telephones were utilitarian devices that offered absolutely nothing that wasn’t necessary. Straightforward pieces of equipment. What you saw is what you got.
6. Use a stamp on an envelope
Think about this: tear off a tiny piece of perforated paper, and lick it. Then place it on an envelope, and find a mailbox! Not. Gonna. Happen. Ever.
5. Hear of a professional athlete who is forced to hold down an off-season job to supplement his living
My father worked in the front office of a professional sports team in Montreal in the 1950s and ’60s. But during the off season, he had to find a full-time job just like all the players in his organisation. Today’s minor-league players can earn hundreds of thousands of dollars in one season.
4. Travel from Canada to America without a passport
Passing through the world’s longest international border between two countries usually involved a wave and maybe a driver’s license. Today, it requires a passport, no exceptions.
3. Go from the taxi through airport security to the departure gate in less than 10 minutes
The goal was to make your flight, not check in three hours before takeoff. Before 9/11, you could walk from the taxi to the check-in counter and through security to your gate in minutes. Those days will never return – unless flying on a private jet.
2. Get up from a chair to change the TV channel
In the 1970s, there were only a few channels and you had to walk all the way to the television and turn a big, fat knob to watch something else.
And the number one thing my father and I did that my children will never do …
1. Smoke on an airplane
In 2017, this seems so odd and even impossible. The last vestige I see of this is on the occasional domestic flight within Canada when on an older plane and there is an ashtray in the arm of the seat.
Michael Jabri-Pickett Speechwriter • Editor • Journalist