Now that I’m officially a grumpy old man (so old that I now give my age — LXX — in Roman numerals), I have a few gripes to air:
• I used to go to Big Chain Pharmacy A, but they got swallowed up by Big Chain Pharmacy B, so now I go to B, right down the street, because B, through the miracle of modern infotechnology, inherited all the Rx records from A.
Thing is, at A I could always chat with Chris the pharmacist, and sometimes he’d even come out from behind the counter and show me some OTC product in the aisles. But no more. And at B (having put A out of business), there’s almost always a line these days.
• I don’t like those “eyebrow” lights on the new cars. Sometimes it’s just a line of high-intensity, cold-as-ice little lights, but more often it looks (in your rear-view mirror, where everything looks more sinister) like the eye of some bird of prey, or maybe a shark.
Even creepier, when the driver signals a turn, the “eyebrow” light on that side goes out, as if the goshdarn car is squinting at you, derisively, and blinking its eye.
• Speaking of cars, then there’s the DMV. Have you looked at the back of your new license, with not one but two new mystery codes on it?
One’s a bar code and one looks like a stretched-out QR, with all those little black and white pixels. Purpose? Beats me. But if, as they say, Santa Claus knows if you’ve been bad or good, I’ll bet the Department of Motor Vehicles knows quite a bit more. (Anyway, Merry Christmas to all!)
• More about cars: I sometimes buy my gasoline at the supermarket, where if you spend enough inside, you can get some cents off outside. But there’s been a change. Where once all you had to do was scan your “rewards” card, now you also have to push a button telling the machine you will graciously accept 10 or 20 cents off per gallon.
Who would say “no” to that? No one. But it stands to reason that a certain percentage of people won’t see the question and won’t push the “yes” button and thus will get no “reward” and the company will swallow those dimes. In other words, the house wins.
• And speaking of loaded dice, a few centuries ago, Connecticut and Massachusetts seemed to be competing with each other for the number of alleged witches they could bump off.
These days, the rivalry has evolved into how many slot machines — how many one-armed bandits — they can inflict on the citizenry. This we call progress.
• And this isn’t a gripe; just some odd factoids from the Census Bureau. In 1968, the U.S. population was 201 million souls. Now, 50 years later, it’s 329 million. Yikes, you might say.
And back then, the top five states by population were New York, California, Pennsylvania, Illinois and Ohio, in that order. Florida was in tenth place, just behind Massachusetts.
Today it’s California, Texas, Florida, New York and Pennsylvania. Massachusetts is No. 15. Also, the top countries sending us immigrants these days are Mexico (OK, you knew that), China, India, the Philippines and Vietnam, in that order.
Now, isn’t that interesting?
Reach Glenn Richter at firstname.lastname@example.org
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