Where Have All the Pencils Gone?

August 21, 2013 6 Comments »

Crossword puzzle
Low-tech crossword

I sat on the train and watched my mom complete her crossword puzzle with her No. 2 pencil. I was thinking about how I hadn’t even seen anyone use an actual pencil for a long time. I remember it used to be a staple of my school supply purchases every August – but that was 33 years ago. As she worked away, I looked at my smartphone and pecked away with my thumbs uploading a tweet.

“What are you going to do when you have to sharpen one of those pencils?” I asked.

“I will get someone to sharpen them.”

Suddenly an image of a pencil sharpener flashed through my mind transporting me back to 5th grade. “Really? People actually have pencil sharpeners still?” I responded.

We talked about the evolution of travel and  how writing is dying – real, actual pencil/pen and paper writing. My mom mentioned that they are not even teaching cursive any longer in schools. I had no idea! The age thing really makes you want to hang on to your past – in fact you claw to it. I can feel that resistance to change in me many days since I hit my 40’s – it’s honestly a feeling that I have to fight.

On this mother daughter trip through Nova Scotia, each night my mom would hand write her notes and I would type away at night on my laptop. One night she had me doubled over in laughter when she said, “I’ll find a restaurant we can go to tonight.” And she proceeded to pick up the phone book and look in the yellow pages. I sat there in disbelief thinking about how I had forgotten that we used phone books in those ways not that long ago!

I think now about everything we have at our fingertips, our immense desire for real time information, not to mention people in space, and data, data, data. A constant stream of data flowing through our lives. In a lifetime – my mother has seen an immense amount of change. It makes me a bit ashamed as I think about how I often give her a bad time about dealing with change (normally when I have to help her with her Facebook account – something I think is one of the most torturous things I’m asked to do in my life). But truth be told – she has rolled with things really amazingly.

My mother found a pencil sharpener much to my surprise. She also found a restaurant in the yellow pages . However I did add a little high tech to the decision when I found a Groupon for the restaurant she picked in the yellow pages and I used my Telecom Square mobile hotspot device to hop online in the car and purchase the Groupon over my smart phone and got us 50% off our meal in Digby. I do love technology!

My mom’s handwritten blog post.

My mother also decided to fulfill my request of writing a guest post about her experiences on the trip by hand-writing her story. I asked her to focus on how travel has changed based on her experiences on the Nova Scotia trip. I included a bit of the hand written accounts here – but I just couldn’t do it…I had to type it out…I’m a failure at low tech!

If you’d like to see a 77 year old’s take on how technology has changed travel and personal interaction – then I think you’ll enjoy this piece handwritten by my mother. It is a perspective on travel that you might have forgotten. It will transport you back to your family road trips and make you realize just how much our world has changed – and continues to change.

Read my mother’s story here:

Nova Scotia – The land of green forests, fishing boats, and ocean bottom By Marilyn Ott


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