Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Young Target Employee: Statia-what! Stationery?

My cousin. L.C. of Texas (pre-Katrina of New Orleans), shared this funny story on Facebook about a true experience she had in Target. I think her story comments on a technological divide between generations:
The strangest thing happened to me this evening. . . . I went to Target to purchase a stationery set and had trouble finding any. So, I asked this twenty-something year-old for assistance. I described what I was looking for as a stationery or writing set, to write letters. She looked at me as if I were speaking Greek.

The security guard along side her replied, "It's old school. You know these little colorful sheets of paper with pretty matching envelopes that are sold together in a set? People used them at one time to write letters."

The young lady then replied, "Reeeally? Are you serious? I've never seen anything like that. OMG!"

I walked the heck out of that store and went to Barnes & Nobles, where there was a SELECT few sets available. Are we that technology driven that we no longer consider writing a simple letter? This encounter makes me glad I turned down the GPS in my rental car to make use of a "paper" map. @-@
This story makes me think of all the things today's teens and twenty-somethings may have never heard of or seen that people over 35 have at least heard of someone using, carbon paper for instance (assuming they have not seen carbon checks). So many things have become obsolete in the last 20 years.

I'm in graduate school and most of my classmates are younger than my children. One of them, a young writer, questioned in class one day why typed manuscript pages are considered to be 250 words when that never works out for MS Word pages.

I said, "That's based on typewriters using the Courier font. If you double-space, have one-inch margins, and type in courier, a page will come out to 250 words."

Not only did she not believe me, she rolled her eyes as though I had said something obscene. The artsy types often don't like Courier, but seriously, she looked disgusted.

In any case, in the spirit of my cousin's no-stationery-for-you story, I am sharing this article from the New York Times, "The Fading Art of Letter Writing." I found it last year when I required my Freshman English students to include a letter with their final writing portfolios.

And while I'm at it, I should also say that bookstores may be on the way out as well, especially big chain bookstores such as Barnes & Noble, where my cousin took refuge.

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