Posted by: Steve Vitek | September 23, 2012

Wearing a Watch and Using a Fax Is So Uncool These Days

I never had to buy a watch for my two sons who are in their twenties now because I gave them a cell phone when they were about 12.

One of them now has a watch, but that’s because it was a present from some girl (not his girlfriend, he insists!) when he turned 21. Once the battery in this watch dies, my guess is that he will probably not replace it, especially if he has another girlfriend by then, I mean just friend.

I do have a watch but that’s because every few years I go to Europe and my cell phone does not work there. I put the watch on my wrist when I leave for the airport and take it off and leave it in a cupboard in the kitchen when I come back from the airport. When the battery in that watch dies, I will have to buy a new watch because it is so hard to find a place with the right battery for your watch these days.

Or not if my cell phone starts working in Europe.

I noticed that very few young people wear a watch these days. Who needs a watch when the time is displayed on your phone?

The watch making industry is still surviving by trying to promote watches as fashionable accessories, but unless they can figure out how to get young people hooked on watches (which they can’t), there may be more people on this planet using Morse code in a few years than wearing a watch.

Sic transit gloria mundi (thus passes the glory of the world).

Well, of course, I am exaggerating, but only slightly. Because the young are no longer interested in watches or newspapers, watch manufacturers and newspaper publishers will soon be catering to an even smaller, constantly shrinking market niche.

It will be kind of sad, I think, if ladies classy watches disappear in a few years. A tiny and delicate golden ladies watch used to emphasize the graceful and elegant presence of a gentleman’s dinner date for something like a hundred years. But ladies watches are being replaced in our crass culture by cell phones, huge hoop earrings (so distracting – you can’t see her face or concentrate on what she’s saying when you have to follow the gyrating trajectory of those dangling earrings), and bling-bling jewelry.

***********

The other uncool possession that I still have, although I never use it, is my fax. I still have a fax number and a separate phone line, but the fax is turned off.

I decided to turn it off about a year ago because there was no other way to prevent my fax machine from hitting me with junk faxes every few days. I used to rely on the friendly green light on my fax machine, telling me that the machine was always ready and eager to receive ….. anything that somebody might throw at it. My fax has been a good friend to me for so many years, from 1987 until just a few years ago.

But the only faxes that I have been receiving the last few years were advertisement for trips to Mexico and health insurance plans for self-employed individuals, both invariably based on lies and deceptions. The tours, if they exist at all, would have to cost much more than what is advertised, and the health insurance plan would work perfectly …. until you got sick.

There is a number in a tiny font on the bottom of those faxes to call to have your fax number removed from the “database”. I called it three times, but the faxes still continued. So I turned the machine off, and so did just about everybody else, I presume.

The junk fax industry is a type of business that is determined to kill off all of its customers. Not a very sound business concept.

But I am keeping the fax line and the fax machine, mostly for sentimental reasons. If you call me or e-mail ahead of time, I will turn it on and you can send me something.

I understand fax machines are still used quite a bit in Japan, mostly by older people who prefer to write everything meticulously by hand in elaborate Japanese characters the way it has been done for centuries, when saké still tasted like saké, and fish still tasted like fish because there was no mercury, no oil particles, and no radioactive elements in fish back then.

Perhaps there will be something worth turning my fax on again in another year or two.

(Probably not. An overwhelming feeling of tragic loss and profound sadness descends upon me.)

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Responses

  1. Nostalgia, I guess, that makes us cling to the snow of yesteryears.

    I’ve been translating for a watchmaker since 3 years. He is still doing pretty well. But time is achanging. I don’t even have a watch since the invention of mobile phones.

    As to fax, I have a line hooked on my PC. But who is using fax machines? Lawyers scan in their documents and send them as attachments to e-mails.

    Phonographs are gone. Tape recorders are gone. Typewriters are gone. And we will be gone in a few decades. Born to die. That’s it.

    BTW, Georges Moustaki is also one of my favorite songwriters and singers. He is also of our younger days. Amazing that someone masters French the way he does and even as a non-native.

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    • “Amazing that someone masters French the way he does and even as a non-native” … and feels that he has a “guele de meteque” (the face of a stranger) …. Meteque nicely rhymes with “zmetek” in Czech, which was translated into French by Google translate as “sans valuer”, and into English as “bastard”, “SOB”.

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    • According to Wikipedia, métèque, the French translation for the Greek word métoikos, has acquired a pejorative meaning, being applied against Mediterranean immigrants, as in the works of Charles Maurras.

      A métoikos was an alien who had no citizen rights in an ancient Greek city-state. It was probably better to be an ancient Athenian métoikos, than an immigrant in 1990s France (or even some decades earlier, since Mustacchi went to Paris in 1951 and he must have sensed his status of a métoikos), according to Nicole Loraux.

      A zmetek (in German, a Taugenichts or a Blindgänger, a good-for-nothing) is a dud (as translated by Google Translate). I like the word. It reminds me the philosophy of Chuangtsu (Zhuangzi, 莊子), an ancient Chinese philosopher who dreamt of being a happy butterfly and wondered, when awake, if he was a butterfly dreaming of being a human. Living as a métèque in France can be like a butterfly dreaming of being a human. Nice, isn’t it?

      I like especially Moustaki’s “Il y´avait un jardin” (There was a garden) that begins with the words:

      “C´est une chanson pour les enfants
      Qui naissent et qui vivent entre l´acier
      Et le bitume entre le béton et l´asphalte
      Et qui ne sauront peut-être jamais
      Que la terre était un jardin.”

      That’s the real kind of nostalgie! I hope, Steve, you’ll find your hometown in the Czech Republic still a garden of your childhood!

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  2. I no longer wear a watch either. I have a Girard Perregaux that was a high school graduation present, white gold with a second hand, but no numbers. It has to be wound and the clasp is difficult for old fingers. $65 at the local jeweler’s, which was air-conditioned and as quiet as a museum, and $65 was expensive then. As for the battery models, I have a dozen, probably. I don’t know how to change the batteries, let alone find what I need. My younger son (41) has steadfastly refused to wear a watch ever.

    But just ask how long it would take me to accept and put on a Patek Philippe!

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  3. OK, Ricky, I promise I will never to ask you to put a Patek Philippe on.

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  4. I bought a copy/scan/fax laser printer maybe 7-8 years ago, mostly for my wife who even then worked from home while I was still a commute-to-the-office guy, but it hasn’t been connected to a phone line for at least 5 years and never will again. The next printer won’t be asked to have a fax feature (but it had better do pdf scans instead of tiff, US PTO notwithstanding). However, I do wear a watch when I’m out (not in the house, there’s a clock on the oven in the kitchen and on the clock radio in the bedroom) – I’m old enough that I would rather look at my wrist than pull a phone out of my pocket to know what the time is. It’s a cheap Timex, bought 20+ years ago and gone through a couple of batteries and straps since then. The good watch sits in my nightstand drawer, and is likely to sit there forever.

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  5. “The next printer won’t be asked to have a fax feature (but it had better do pdf scans instead of tiff, US PTO notwithstanding).”

    As far as I know, this is a software program (PDF Writer) that you have to buy from Adobe Corporation for 300 dollars. I got it a long time ago.

    One either has to buy this product or a cheaper third-party conversion program to convert for example a Tiff file to an Adobe PDF file.

    Or are there multifunction printers that come with free PDF software?

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  6. Glad to see you are speaking for the fine young folks of the world. I’m young and I wear a watch. I didn’t even finish reading the rest of your bullshit article it pisses me off. You are one of millions of assholes on the Internet that deems it necessary to slander the wrist watch.

    Watches will NEVER go out of style, they will never stop being made, so shut your bitch mouth up. You have no fucking room to speak about anything because your one of millions of asshole bloggers that uses the Internet as a soap box. So go eat shit and die.

    Like


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