What happens when there are no more newspapers? What will I line my birdcage with? What will I use to swat flies? And most important, what will I wrap my fish in?
As I recently sat in an airport waiting for, once again, a flight that had been delayed by maintenance, I couldn’t help but look around and see the number of mini-computers, called cellphones, being used.
There was texting, calculating, and even game playing.
Very few people were using their phone for the basics, which used to be just plain old talking. In addition, the “pads” were out in full force with every style, every manufacturer, and every size on display.
There would be no conversation in this waiting area, nor would there be the crumpling of old, folded newspapers.
It was head down, eyes glazed, and fingers moving.
It was man or woman and their personal instrument; it seemed the immediate world around them didn’t exist.
The death of the newspaper, like any other transitional period, brings a certain sadness. Newspapers didn’t need to be recharged, columns of op-eds and letters to the editor used to invite a discussion amongst travelers who may have been sharing a bus, a train, or even a subway.
As a matter of fact, I had a very memorable experience from back in the day.
“That guy’s an idiot,” said a man sitting next to me on the L train.
“Look at that letter,” he exclaimed, thrusting the page in front of my face.
“Yes,” I agreed, “he doesn’t go far enough.”
“What,” the other man said incredulously, “are you some kind of right wing nut?”
I didn’t respond and just went back to reading my paper.
His outburst seemed to amuse the other travelers as though it were a daily occurrence.
Yes, newspapers had a certain coolness to them, as proven by my grandfather who took the train daily from Long Island to Wall Street.
I traveled with him many times, knowing the journey was finally over when we reached the street and the workday was about to begin.
At that point, my grandfather eagerly put on his topcoat, donned his chapeau, and carefully folded the well-read morning newspaper, placing it gently under his arm.
This routine became so much more than an event that I looked forward to; it was a unique ritual that I learned to love.
I once asked my grandfather, “why don’t you just leave the newspaper behind, after all, there will be someone to clean the train.”
He looked at my quizzically and said, “then what would we use to wrap the fish?”
Ahh, I got it.