The Plumber came the other day, and my husband, as old folks will, followed him and talked. Our plumber is sufficiently gregarious (I think, by nature) to be agreeable.
Somehow, they began to talk Hershey back in the day—this is a place people don’t seem to leave—born here, die here—so we, as outsiders, ones who have lived here for 33 years now, have a perspective to offer. “How much things have changed” is always a reliable conversation starter. You say “why, I remember when we got here, in 1982” and they nod and then tell you about how it was when they were kids two decades earlier.
We always listen with interest to tales of yore in our small German Electorate. Inside a big family network is another way of being from the manner in which my husband and I were raised, as travelers. We're both water signs and neither of us liked to have the surface of the liquid disturbed. He got jerked around far more often than I did--sometimes yearly--but I got jerked into other cultures.
As young marrieds, we used to compete over whose experience of childhood misery was the greater, but with age comes The Buddha and we have learned compassion for everyone involved. Nevertheless, the corner of any room is now our preferred habitat, where we watch and learn from the well-connected others, all talking and cheerfully milling about together in the center.
“So what brought you to this area?” The plumber asked.
Without much thought, Chris says, “Oh to work on PCs at Hershey.”
(Lo, in the former age, not every office desk had a PC. Yes, during that great leap forward in our civilization’s production of reams of paper, there were careers built on Information Technology. Whole new departments appeared inside all the large corporations.)
However, the Plumber, a younger man, probably younger than our kids, looked puzzled, as if “PC” meant nothing to him.
After a pause, he said, “Um--what’s PC?”
“Oh, that’s Personal Computers,” Chris said. “The big roll out in the 80's when management in all these corporations decided that everyone’s desk—not just the secretary’s—needed one.”
The Plumber looked relieved. “Oh, man! The only thing I could come up with for “PC” was “Political Correctness.”
It was a funny moment, a “time passes” lesson, where you suddenly see that everyday language has moved on and left you and your now antique meaning behind.
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