What Did You Do Before

The old man sat next to me on the slow train into London. Like so many others on board I was passing time staring at a tiny screen.

The old man asked, ‘What did you do before you had a mobile phone?’ ‘I stared out of the window, read, sketched, wrote and sometimes talked’ I said, and so, twenty five minutes before reaching Victoria station, our conversation began.

The old man studied American history, ‘Abraham Lincoln forever, and all that,’ he said. Turns out he’s a Packers fan and so we talked of American football, cheese heads, Vikings, Broncos, Seahawks, Raiders and more. ‘I’ve never been to the United States’ the old man told me, and I explained that’s where I was journeying to. ‘I like the sound of Baton Rouge, it has a nice name’, he said. Somewhat surprised I replied ‘that’s where I’m heading.’

We talked about the trip I took to New York City with my late father. I told the old man about the sights we saw and added, ‘we even went to see the ice hockey.’ ‘The Rangers?’ Asked the old man. ‘Indeed’ I said, and we spoke of sport and our separate experiences of listening to US forces radio bouncing crackly live signals from various sports on the medium wave.

With Victoria approaching, and with twenty five minutes passing like twenty five seconds, we shook hands and wished each other well. He continued his journey to the midlands to watch Wolverhampton Wanderers take on Peterborough, and I headed for the airport, to catch my flight to Baton Rouge.

What did you do before you had a mobile phone?

Author: Doug Shaw

Artist and Consultant. Embracing uncertainty, sketching myself into existence. Helping people do things differently, through an artistic lens.

2 thoughts on “What Did You Do Before”

  1. Before I had a mobile phone, I was playing on my games console. Those were the days of the early internet, and when a mobile phone could only make calls and sent SMS messages to people on the same network as you. I was working at Blockbusters at the time and took advantage of the staff benefit of two free films every week. Going out with friends used to be the thing to do constantly too.

    Different times, and different capabilities. I don’t pine for them, and think I’m more able to be my best self today. But I don’t attribute that to modern technologies necessarily.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *