Embattled Luddites face new threat

Sometimes it’s tough to be a Luddite.

I’ve written previously about the disappearance of payphones, which are becoming extinct because of physical assaults (vandalism), economic assault (widespread adoption of cell phone usage), and — lately — city officials.  I’ve been able to avoid the cell phone craze thus far, and my immediate  family manages pretty well without them — though I get a lot of harassment from friends & family who

a. think I should be reachable at all times

and

b. think I’m inviting disaster by not having a phone handy for emergencies.

I usually invite them to recall that the sky rarely fell in on people 20 years ago when almost no one had a mobile phone (and those who did needed a suitcase for it).  There seems to be a widespread amnesia about just how we all managed in those bad old days.  Maybe I’m tempting fate, but I think I can buck this trend a while longer, and for what many people pay for their phone plans, I’d rather spend that money on second-hand books.

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My family encountered a new Luddite challenge this summer — GPS systems are killing off the market for maps & street atlases.

Whenever my family goes off on a long car trip to somewhere we’ve never previously visited, our custom has been to arrive at our destination city/town and pick up a folding map or street atlas at a gas station, convenience store, supermarket or pharmacy.  All of those places used to feature a small rack of local maps for sale, and we have quite a collection of these at home from various trips.  But occasionally we encounter a gap in our collection as we did one time this past summer.

When we arrived at this particular city, we must have checked in with at least a half dozen places that typically used to sell maps — no one had any.  We finally found a rather incomplete tourist-oriented map at a visitor’s center, with which we did our best to find some of the places we wanted to visit.  It was a frustrating experience.

For any of you who may have Luddite leanings, I thought I’d give you a heads-up to start buying up maps & atlases while you still can.  They’re becoming as rare as payphones.

Lest I end on that depressing note, I should mention that there’s a Citgo on Thompson Road in Webster that still maintains a rack of maps.  If you need a map, you might stop by there & see what they have: