I was driving down one of my favourite riverside lanes the other day on the way to one of Red Deer’s amazing green spaces, when I had a glimpse of yesteryear out one side of my car and another of futurama out the other at precisely the same time.
Moseying up the riverbed with his fishing rod and tackle box out the driver-side window was an unrushed, elderly fellow. Just as I began reflecting (as I have been doing so often lately, with this extra retirement time on my hands!) on the bountiful sense of wellbeing that washes over you when you have the great fortune of visiting a park at 10:00 on a workday morning, I was struck by a polar opposite flash from the right.
It was a person dressed in full-out Darth Vader gear from head to toe – invader gloves up to the elbows and large shiny black reinforcements on elbows and knees. Their head was fully engulfed in a circular device with a pure-black front visor and they were riding a small round motorized scooter thingy with no handlebars. I have since discovered the device is called Self Balancing One Wheel Electric Unicycles. The image that flashed before my eyes reminded me of Marty in ‘Back to the Future’ when he wakes his young dad up in the night dressed like an alien.
The contrasting ambience of the two people on either side made me think of all the things that have changed since the demise of unrushed tackle box-carrying people. It made me think of my dad and how challenged he would be to recognize the world we’re living in. He had barely stepped into the tackle-box role before he died in 1987 at the age of 58. It was before human genome mapping, before we created a changed climate, before the World Wide Web. You know, it was a simpler time.
I stopped at the bank on the way home from the park that morning. As I was punching my info into the machine, I got a text from someone looking for a photo I had taken on my iPhone the day before. I quickly texted the jpeg back to them and thought, once again, that Dad wouldn’t have a clue about any single one of the encounters I was having in this scene. He had passed before insta-banking was even a thing, let alone smartphone technology. Then I looked back at the photo I had just sent, of a couple of little boys running in a big field as their kite was taking flight.
Okay, one thing would be familiar to him, I thought.
Sandy Bexon is stepping into retirement after over 35 years as a communications professional, reporter and writer. She lives in Red Deer.