Teenagers today have no idea how hard it is to take the garbage out when the garbage can is aluminum, probably dented, and has no wheels. They have no idea how back-breaking it is to cut the grass when the only lawn mower in existence is a hand-mower. They have no idea what it's like to watch a black and white television that offers only three networks, or what it's like to go to the movie theater where there's only one screen, one candy counter, one popcorn machine. For today's young people, soda has always come in plastic bottles, not glass, and warming up food simply means popping it in the microwave rather than the oven. They have always had a computer to help with homework assignments, and can't fathom sitting in the library researching encyclopedias, or writing term papers by hand – with a fountain pen, not a ballpoint. They don't remember when princess phones were fashionable, or when rotary phones hung on kitchen walls. They can't comprehend stores and supermarkets closing on Sundays, or a time when leisure activities didn't include video games, IPODS, or cell phones.
Even the holidays are easier for today's generation. They can watch Christmas cartoons like Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, or Charlie Brown's Christmas, more than once a year. They can do one-stop Christmas shopping at any mall, and can't imagine existing without one, nor can they imagine life without fast food or a bagel shop on every corner. When I was growing up, there were no burger or bagel chains, no donut shops, no grand shopping concourses, no snow removal devices other than the shovel in my Dad's garage. There were no DVDs or CDs or technological gadgets that made gift giving easier. There were only vinyl record albums, transistor radios, and tape recorders.
“Easy,” I suppose, is a relative term, but kids nowadays sure have it easier than I ever did. And I had it easier than my parents did. I grew up with a complete refrigerator in my kitchen; as a boy, my Dad carried ice from the ice house. I grew up with a television set; my parents grew up with a radio. I grew up riding in automobiles; as a child, my Dad rode the trolleys in New York City. When I was little, I accompanied my parents to the supermarket; they accompanied their parents to the corner market where vegetables were sold on the street. I played with dolls and board games and listened to music on my record player; my Dad pitched pennies in the street, and played stick ball.
I guess “older” people will always think youth has it easy. That's just part of the cycle of life. But each generation stands upon the foundation established by its predecessor. Thanks to a particular generation's hard work and innovation, life will improve for the next generation.
So the next time my kids roll a plastic trash can to the street, or “shovel” the driveway with a snow blower, maybe they'll thank me.