Vanishing Memories

Of Obsolete Skills &
Lost & Found Objects

A virtual museum for what’s being discontinued from our daily life. But it’s actually a working ad for a YouTube channel.
An inventory of soon-to-be-extinct professional skills. And a partial list of the amazing stuff that people leave behind.
The worst part of a rapidly evolving technology-oriented world, is to hear the tech sales guy tell you they can’t fix your gadget.
There may be a man down on Canal Street who could, but it’s unlikely that you’ll find him trustworthy, or even speak his language.
In such an unforgiven world, recycling is for woussies, and people will try to convince you that it’s better to buy the latest model. And dump your beloved GBook in a landfill.
It’s the ‘car of the year’ mentality. Why fix it, if you can buy a brand new one, with an upgraded chip, and a sexy GPS voice?
It’s even sadder when it comes to skills your old uncle Bob honed along so many years, and that are now close to being worthless.
He may still have his 1943 Typing Diploma somewhere at the family’s storage space. Without it, he wouldn’t have gotten his first office job.
It was his Dad, whose own florid calligraphy granted him his 30-year career as as a ‘commercial correspondent,’ who sounded the alarm.
– Typewriters are taking over. No one will give you a job if you can’t type with all your fingers. Good man, he was right, of course.
And off went uncle Bob in those booming post-war times, to become an eximious typist, a skill that took him all the way to middle management. If you know what that word means, you know all about it.
But people forget these things, along with other beloved objects. And the world changes many times over, before they have a chance to catch on.
You wouldn’t believe what’s left behind in train stations, airports, old houses. Sometimes, lost things find their way to a hidden, dank little office under a train track, in the bowels of an old station.
Not surprisingly, people seem to be the most forgetful when they’re about to board public transportation. Or to embark on a trip.

Places become temporary when people are in a hurry. Memories are elusive when they don’t reawaken the long forgotten.
To rescue objects we no longer need was probably the idea behind the Museum of Obsolete Objects. But somehow the oxymoron of its title got in the way of such a seemingly mild commentary.
Some took issue with cataloguing things they are not yet prepared to discard, with giving shelter to what’s already being labeled useless.
But even if the online-only museum was really a clever way for YouTube to spur one of its brands, it does have a nostalgic tinge.
Quill pens, the Morse Code, the telegraph, the cassette tape, all are found on the site of funny-sounding acronym MOOO.
Judging by its running commentary, there’re questions as to what will last longer: the museum, or the YouTube branding of its brands, which according to that same tech guy, is another bridge to nowhere. Time will tell.
Almost as a mirror to the museum is, which lists a series of abilities you no longer need to mention on your resume, even if you’ve mastered them as uncle Bob has.
Have you ever operated a dictaphone? Your grandma probably did. But even if you ever had to take down someone else’s letter, it’s doubtful such a skill is part of any job description nowadays.
The site dutifully describes the actions required and the field it used to be part of. But for anyone who’s ever handled a cassette recorder, a dictaphone is a breeze.
Much harder would be to use an eraser on a typewriter. That is, assuming you ever took that typing course. Alas, something called word processor turned it obsolete, remember those?
Probably not. Even the massive personal computers of yore, that is, circa 1980s, could do everything word processors could, and much more.
Want one more? what about rotary phones? again, those were done in by the touch tone that you can’t hardly find today in the streets of New York.
Guess what? Many countries in the world still use them. Less and less, of course. The cost to install a complex brick and mortar phone system is now staggeringly more expensive than a cellphone tower.
You may insert here your own commentary as to whether this is good or bad, progress or more of the same. We need to talk about things that people forget.
The British newspaper The Independent compiled recently a list of things left at hotels, airports, even at a car wash, around the world.
Have you seen a pair of dentures? You probably should, as they’re the most commonly item left behind by customers of the Transport for London authority.
But a human-sized heart? That’s what may be called a find. It was never reclaimed, or even identified as human or animal.
The two skulls found in a bag at the Tube, though, were indeed very much human. Which is perhaps as creepy as the leg, found by a guest at the New York Marriott.
Putting this way, though, in a list, it all sounds prosaic and matter-of-fact. Some would even say that it’d be much worst to lose your cellphone or your keys.
By the way, these are the two items that make people go back home, if they realize they’ve left them behind.
And there’s probably a very good reason why few return to retrieve a forgotten umbrella: it’s another thing people forget a lot.
Just like their second cousin in law, twice removed. You know, the one who’s related to uncle Bob’s first wife. What was her name, again?

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