I have somehow found myself in a job where it is my primary duty to be in charge of a collection of audiovisual equipment for a true God-honest library.
Well, not exactly responsible. No one would be stupid enough to hire someone like me for a job like that, but I am responsible for figuring out what AV equipment is off the shelf and what isn’t.
Can I add now as someone who displays animal-like horror upon seeing any user manual, this is not my dream job?
Of course, my dream job involves being a Jane Jetson housewife with Rosie the robot doing all the hard work, leaving me plenty of time to go out to lunch with friends on another planet.
But back to this planet and my current job. One would be hard pressed to find anyone less qualified for a position that involves even the most primitive form of technology, but you never know what life will throw at you in terms of how to make bread and butter, so here I am.
I’m not lying when I say that for the first month or so, I kept a working student glued to my side to help me answer more challenging questions like “What is an HDMI cord?” But over time, I’ve become more familiar with some of the newer technologies out there and a little less likely to burst into tears upon hearing the word “stock”.
But last week, I was subjected to objection. Someone called in to find a slide projector. You know, those things that Kodak made with a round tray containing about a million slices of other people’s leave. Everyone had one in the 60s and 70s. Now they are about to be as rare as hen’s teeth.
Fortunately, the guy who got used to my job passed past the office and I quickly caught him. He spotted a dusty slide projector in the library, made sure all the parts were in there, and best of all, showed me how the darn thing works. It seems like I’ve been technically challenging even when it comes to technology since yesterday.
The next day I got a phone call from the person who checked the slide projector. She wanted to thank the library for finding her projector and said she was using it for a slide show from a trip to Africa 52 years ago. She said, “The old days.” I did not differ.
Today’s version of the slide projector is a smartphone with so many pictures that people swipe through them at the speed of light, never stopping long enough for the viewer to get more than a fleeting glimpse of their baby, dog, or new car, a trip to the Upper Peninsula , whatever.
This was not the case with slide projectors. Watching a slideshow was always an event that required a darkroom, a captive audience, and maybe a Royal Crown Cola along with some Bugles. The host or hostess was the narrator and for an hour or so we held the court where we all heard the crackling sound of slide after slide as it fell into the viewing hole.
“Here we are in Honolulu. There Betty is taking a hula lesson.”
“There’s Jack taking a hula lesson.”
“And there’s Jack after the gal slapped him by giving him a hula lesson.”
and so on and so on. It might not have been as good as getting your own hula lesson, but it was entertaining.
Remembering the simple fun of sliding projectors makes me believe that the tech tsunami we’re drowning in isn’t necessarily a good thing. Yes, we have a lot of technology at our disposal literally at our fingertips. But do we appreciate it?
Let me ask you this question: When was the last time you sat with a group of friends and/or relatives in a dark room and drank a Royal Crown Cola and ate Bugles while everyone else looked at the pictures on your mobile phone?
Do you understand what I mean? Magic doesn’t exist anymore.
Neil Moslev is a freelance writer based in Mankato. It can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.