My old school ways

TRAVERSE CITY — At 58, I like to think I’m still a hip, happenin’ guy. But as it turns out, I’m not. Out of 20 “old school” behaviors that a USA Today article says positively no one does anymore, I still do 12.

Possibly 14.

But definitely not more than 16.

OK, it was 18.

For instance, I still use cash, which I keep in this thing I like to call a “wallet.” And when I want to “buy” something, I go to this other thing called “a store,” where I whip out my wallet, take out some cash (cash, for you millennials, is what we old people call grimy slips of green paper with old dudes’ pictures on them) and hand it to a clerk.

Clearly, that’s an act of monetary aggression that will be outlawed soon, based on this exchange I had the other day.

Clerk: “Your total is $17.54, please.”

Me (handing her a crisp $100 bill): “Here you go.”

Her (recoiling as if I were handing her a live cobra): “Uh, do you have something smaller. Like a twenty, maybe?”

Me: “No, this is all I have.”

Her: “I only have change for a twenty.”

Me: “This is a store. How can you not have change for a twenty?”

Her: “Because no one pays in cash anymore.”

That’s not true. I do. I also use my cell phone to make “calls” to people in order to talk to them. Usually, these calls are not answered, particularly if I’m calling one of my children, who, being Y generation members, think actually talking to human beings is a bizarre concept. I know this because they regularly text me after I call them to tell me so. The last time, my daughter added a frowny-face emoticon next to the words, “Really, dad?”

I also listen to compact discs, which the article said “have probably gone the way of the wax cylinder.” I hope not because CDs are way better than wax cylinders or digital music. I’ve never once heard a commercial on a compact disc or not been able to listen at all because my internet signal was acting up. The only thing better than a CD, by the way, is a record album. The sound is richer and I love cover art and lyric sheets. You young’uns don’t know what you’re missing.

After reading the article, I started thinking about all the old school things I still do. The list was long and disturbing.

I still prefer real newspapers over digital. I like paper books way better than digital books. I would never buy clothes online. Ever. Because I know whatever I buy won’t fit and I’ll be too lazy to return it. I can’t imagine using a grocery buying delivery service. I buy and use stamps. I still use a travel agent for big trips. I still watch network TV. I’ve never once used a credit card at the pump and never will because I’m convinced all of them are monitored by hackers, who, when they kids, were probably the types who would step on my lawn. I still wish newspapers had movie listings because I think it was way easier. I think board games are just as much fun as video games. And I think the idea of doing a crossword puzzle on an app is a horrible, horrible idea. Erasing is half the joy.

This one really dates me, though: I still think it’s ridiculous to pay $5 for a cup of coffee and I refuse – positively refuse – to utter the words tall, venti, grande or barista. Most Starbucks clerks are cool with it if I order a small, medium or large. But I did have this exchange once:

Me: “I’ll have a small latte.”

Clerk: “Tall, right?”

Me: “No, a small.”

Clerk: “A tall is a small.”

Me: “A small can’t be a tall. A tall sounds large.”

Clerk: “A large is a grande.”

Me: “But I don’t want a grande, I want a small.”

Clerk: “One tall, then.”

Me (sighing): “Fine. But how big is the tall?”

Clerk: “It’s pretty small.”

Me: “Then give me a medium.”

Clerk: “Vente.”

At that point, I gave up and went with the tall.

Just to tick him off, though, I paid with cash.

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Andrew Heller, an award-winning newspaper columnist, appears weekly in the Daily Press. He graduated from Escanaba Area High School in 1979. Follow him at andrewheller.com and on Facebook and Twitter. Write to him via email at andrewhellercolumn@gmail.com.

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