I’ve always been a gadget guy. New tech? Oh yeah. Something shiny? For sure. Early, early adopter? Guilty as charged.
That new-fangled Video Cassette Recorder thing, the one with the 25-foot-long wired remote, circa 1983? Yeah, got it. Looking back, it’s embarrassing to think what I paid for it, but hey, it was new tech so I had to have it.
Same with the phonograph/cassette/8-track setup with the monster speakers. Not only was it new tech, but it was *shiny* new tech with a cool name… Onkyo. Oh. Must. Have.
(Interesting aside, don’t you miss the 8-track clicking from track to track in the middle of a song? Man, those were the days!) 🙂
Look, I was not rich by any means, but I did make great money for a 19-year-old (remember, I didn’t have the grades or desire for college, so I went to work full-time out of High School). I would skimp and save to be able to buy these things. I thought the technology was cool, and I knew I could use these things forever, right?
NARRATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, what Mitch fails to mention is that, for some unknown reason, he still has that stereo system with the monster speakers AND the 40-year-old wired remote VCR. Please don’t ask him why, he tends to get very defensive about it.
Anyway, fast forward a few years, after you get married and have kids, your priorities – and budgets! – change. So the shiny tech-buying days were over. Actually, I was totally fine with that, as it was now fun to wander the aisles of Toys R Us trying to find the coolest toys for the kiddos.
Eventually, the new tech bug would bite me again, and I felt obligated to share this love of gadgets with my offspring. One problem… with three kids aged 5 to 10, in a single-income household (which was very much our choice and we’d do it that way again in a heartbeat!), any budget for ‘shiny new tech’ was non-existent.
You think that minor detail is going to stop me from looking? Not a chance. Better yet, now I get to peruse the finest in gadgetry *with the kids*! The best of both worlds.
My go-to back then was Circuit City Jantzen Beach (may they RIP). Almost every Friday night, the kids would take turns going with me to hunt the big game… a new Big Screen TV.
We’d spend most of the evening walking the aisles, looking at gadgets and talking about life. This was my opportunity to connect, to bond, to ask questions about their everyday life in a relaxed, casual environment. Away from the house and without their other siblings around, it was just the two of us. No matter how empty or packed the store might be, the rest of the world – the people, the problems – all just faded away. Whether we were there thirty minutes or three hours (more often than not, the latter) 🙂 quantity didn’t matter… it was Quality time.
And while most nights we came home from our adventure empty-handed, I always came home with a full heart.
Yes, I eventually bought some big screen TV that is now long gone – broken and replaced by some other newer, shinier tech. But our memories of these Friday nights, aimlessly wandering the aisles of Circuit City, spending hours and hours of quality time together, will last long after all the gadgets are gone.
The fact that today, years later and even though they are now grown adults, each one of them would jump at the opportunity for us to do it again validates my belief that this investment – not in shiny technology, but in the creation of quality time together – will remain with them long after I am gone as well.
What the kids likely didn’t know at the time – but I hope they understand now and will carry with them into the future as they have kids of their own – is that our Friday night visits to Circuit City were never about the big screen.