Who Knew What An Instant World It Would Become

Maybe it started with TV Dinners. Maybe it began with Instant Mashed Potatoes or Minute Rice. Maybe it started with frozen vegetables, instant coffee, or Pillsbury Biscuits. Maybe it started with Drive-thru banks, frozen pizzas, or Polaroid Cameras. Regardless of where it started, we’ve become a nation connected to a lifestyle often described by words like “fast,” “instant,” or “to go.” We seem to want things yesterday, as we think of them today. We seem to want things to do, but want them to happen fast.

Think about it, how many home cooked meals do families sit down to today, or how many meals are purchased at fast food drive-thrus, or delivered by “pizza guys?” If we do cook meals at home, is it frozen pizza, or microwavable dinners cooked in six minutes? If we shop for something for dinner, how many times do we end up grabbing something already prepared from local supermarket delis?

Sally and I sometimes look to cook something fast, or pick up something from the deli, but I have to say, our home is still very often filled with the delicious smells of meals created by Sally’s culinary imagination and magic fingers, then roasting, simmering, or baking until they’ve reached the moment of being plated and served.

When doing our shopping, how many of us shop online from the comfort of our home, while still in our pjs? I admit, I’m guilty of occasional online shopping, sometimes to avoid the crowds of holiday shoppers, but mostly to save money when I find something cheaper which also has the perk of free shipping to my door. I’ll also shop online when I can’t find an item I’m looking for locally.

We can take pictures, videos, write letters, send birthday, get well, and anniversary wishes, and send sympathies instantly by phone. We can even talk to each other with our thumbs as opposed to the old-fashioned conventional way of actually talking to someone on that phone. But again, I’m a partial victim of technology too.

It’s hard not to get caught up in the “Instant,” “Fast,” “To Go” world in which we live. Our jobs have modernized with today’s technology. Computers run our lives and businesses. In my career, I had to go from figuring grades and writing them on report cards, to typing numbers into my computer and having the printer spit out the report card without me having to average the grades or waste the ink writing grades and comments on the cards myself.

The world seems to be faster. Some technology advancements save us time, and make some things easier to do in our jobs, and some add to pleasurable things we like to do in our free time. I can watch the Indians on my phone when I’m out. I play a scrambled word game on my devices. I sometimes listen to music on my phone, iPad, and computer, and even ask Alexa to play some of my favorite satellite radio channels as well, but I still like doing hardcopy paper and pencil crossword/jumbled/cryptoquip puzzles. A few weeks ago, I pulled out my combination turntable, cassette player, AM-FM radio stereo and my collection of record albums, and set up the system in my “cave” and listened to the music of Chuck Mangione’s “Feels so Good,” and Gordon Lightfoot’s “Carefree Highway,” among other vinyl sounds that took me down Memory Lane once more, a trip I never tire of taking.

Religion, too has become absorbed into this fast paced, convenient world. You can watch church services, masses, etc. on television, which is convenient for shut-ins who can’t get to those services, or if someone’s ill on certain Sundays, but it shouldn’t be a replacement for worshiping in person. This past Ash Wednesday saw the inception of “Ashes to go,” allowing worshipers to pull up their cars, receive ashes quickly, then get on with their day. Years ago, my Uncle Lou, aka “Unk,” shared his vision of the future idea of drive-thru confessionals, but after further thought, said it probably wouldn’t fly. He didn’t think the Vatican would approve a drive-thru adorned by a cross and sign reading, “Toot and Tell, or Go to …” Never mind, you get the gist.

And now, welcome to Speed-up Baseball. Commissioner Rob Manfred’s decided (with the help of a miniscule minority) baseball games are too long, they need to be shortened. People are turning off televisions because games are too long. He states not enough children are watching because attention spans give out creating boredom. So he keeps pushing and bribing the Players’ Association to approve changes to appease the small minority of whiners, allowing him to turn his back on the tradition, strategy, and true baseball fans,’ respect for the game.

I have some suggestions for Mr. Manfred (some not mentionable in this forum, but some I’ll share) regarding his perception of baseball games being too long, people turning off sets, not going to games, or kids losing interest in baseball.

First, regarding games being too long … stop some of these people singing the National Anthem, from “jazzing” it up, making it longer than it really is. Sing/play it like it was written. Musical creativity is great at concerts and with other types of music, but the National Anthem shouldn’t be experimented with while being performed. Another way to shorten games is reduce the number of commercials of nationally televised games, especially playoff and All Star games.

Regarding people turning off sets before games are over, in many cases they aren’t turning off sets, they’re falling asleep in front of them. Why? It’s not because of the length, but many games begin at times making it hard to stay awake to the finish, especially with the extended National Anthem and numerous commercials. Earlier starts would allow more kids to be able to watch the big games and maybe keeping their interest too. Also, take some of those weekday night games and bring back Sunday Doubleheaders.

Another way to spark kids’ interest in the game, especially attending them, and keeping their attention span on the game is to campaign parents to actually talk to their kids as game are being played. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen parent and child at games and the parent says nothing to their kid as the game is being played. The game is actually a cheap babysitter for the parent. It’s not bonding if there’s no communication. Have your child bring their glove, watch batting practice, and/or try to get autographs. Learn the game yourselves and actually share the experience with your child. If that happens, chances for boredom will quite probably diminish.

It’s my feeling Manfred will keep looking for ridiculous ways to speed up the game though, so as not to “insult” parents and other whiners who say they love the game but then can’t wait to see it end. Who knows … four fouls and you’re out, no throwing to first base, no throwing the ball around after outs, time limits on home-run trots, pinch runners for catchers so they can get equipment on faster? I’ve got an idea. How about leaving the game alone? Stop appeasing that minority of complainers who whine the game is too long, and focus on the majority who love the game as it is.

And let’s all stop trying to cram more into our lives, by taking the “Instant,” “Fast,” “To Go” approach to life. Sometimes it’s better to sit back, relax, and savor the slow pace, the delicious smells, the time spent with loved ones. Maybe we’d see some of the little things closer and appreciate more, that which we think moves too slow in our lives.