‘You do it all online now,’ you’ll hear voices claim. It’s the way of the world nowadays and those not au fait with the latest will either have to brush up on their keyboard skills or, if you’re not a very conversant, technically-orientated senior, grab one of your grandchildren by the collar and get them to apply their wondrous, wizard-like skills to work it all out for you.
So whether it’s an MOT test, a car parking fee, paying rent or utility bills, they can all be taken care of on the net, including standing orders, direct debits and more. And when you get the hang of it you won’t have to bother standing around in that dreaded queue for long periods, giving you more time to go for a walk, meet your friends, visit family or do what pleases you with your extra spare time… just like shopping online, transactions galore taken care of by the magical, global computer network, all from the comforting comfort of your most comfortable, comfy chair, at home. Truly amazing, and that can’t be a bad thing. All in the name of progress, I suppose!
It’s shopping in particular from home that’s brought to mind – in a way, it’s nothing new and perhaps even better, because items were even delivered to your door! The difference in the 50s and 60s though, it was all cash: no cheques, credit or debit cards and certainly no mobile apps.
“It’s the way forward for efficiency and speed.”
For one street trader, who sold clothes stuffed in two big baskets, it was cash on delivery or ‘on tick’ at the rate of five or ten shillings a week – that would be 25 or 50 pence today. During those times all sorts of vendors would come to your door to offer their wares and your weekly shopping too would be delivered – just like some food and drink retailers do nowadays. You just handed in your food shopping list for the week and wait for the ‘delivery knock’ on the door the next day!
In the 50s and 60s you had fish, fruit and vegetable sellers, the bread man and cake man would come a-knocking also El Lechero, the milk man, offering fresh milk by the pint as did El Aguador with drinking water for you to empty into your clay receptacle in the kitchen corner.
Then you had Salvador selling pari (a triangular type of wafer buttered with a choice of different spreads) and he’d shout “PARI!” for all to hear, and there were more hawkers plying their trade making it unnecessary for you to leave your front door to shop for your daily needs – not unlike shopping online today. You could even have your tired, blunt utensils – knives, scissors and other items – sharpened by El Afilao or the ‘Sharpener’, who’d blow his pan pipe letting you know he was around ready to give your tools a new lease of life.
But yes, rent and utility bills had to be paid for by visiting the corresponding government offices often having to queue up for a while, not unlike those that build up even today, outside lottery agents when collecting your fijos or fixed numbers.
But how things have changed: today, the internet offers a never-ending list of purchases and services not on offer all those years ago. But then for many, or even most, there was no need for the variety of items found on the net and internet banking – because there was no money in the bank – simple, you wouldn’t have a bank account! No hire purchase payments towards a car needed to be accommodated because you didn’t own a four-wheeled vehicle. Then, keeping up with payments towards a mortgage? What was that? Who would be tied up to one of those? I don’t think we could even spell the word, so e-government wouldn’t have been of much use to most. Today however, it’s the way forward for efficiency and speed, they tell us. Like most things, it will take a little time for the system to become well-oiled and running seamlessly… we hope!
Seniors in our city, like elsewhere I suppose, claim all the new technology is for present and future generations, but not past age groups! There’s one senior gentleman who helps many Moroccans with all their bills and paperwork and questions how he or they, will be able to cope with so much computer stuff now required?
Direct debits, downloads and more, one finger symphony tapping on your laptop keyboard, is what we’re told we have to look forward to. For many seniors, I don’t really think my playing Peter Frampton’s popular hit “Show me the Way” on my oldies programme would be of any assistance. The elderly feel they’re past it and wouldn’t be able to grasp the ins and outs of working online on their children’s computer or laptop. I do hear however, there are a few that are really informed and clued-up on the handy keyboard.
Shopping online has been around for some time now and is by all accounts very popular with keen shoppers. Now, settling utility bills and payments for other services – namely a service offered via e-government and other institutions – is the way to go and the new system will be inevitably knocking at the door for us all.
Thus, that’s the parallel to be drawn with practices of the past… sitting at home comfortably and having it all sorted from your residence whether they’re goods purchased from the street vendors in the 50s and 60s or present day online practices, purchasing clothes or other items, making appointments or paying your bills almost without moving a muscle, by becoming accustomed to using modern technology, just by tapping away on a keyboard… However, seniors I guess, would prefer settling their household affairs by popping into offices down town, and returning in time to greet the friendly ‘cake man’ knocking at the door, looking forward to enjoying his or her favourite kekis, so very welcome as they complement their much appreciated, customary afternoon tea… just like bygone days!