Waiting in the car as my daughter shopped, I people-watched in the store’s parking lot.

Vending machines, lined up outside the store, were doing a brisk business as people picked up and deposited rental movies.  Ice machines were not getting much play in the frigid temperatures.

I was pleased to see that containers provided for depositing litter were being used by the patrons. The parking lot was relatively free of litter, a testament to their diligence or could also be the result of the strong winds we were experiencing that blew away any carelessly tossed items.

My thoughts turned to how many transactions we now perform without human contact.  Sears Roebuck and Montgomery Ward catalogs were forerunners in merchandising in the early 20th century, which made it possible to shop from your home by using the U. S. Postal Service, and purchases were mailed to us, without person-to-person contact.

Watching the TV series “Selfridge,” I realized how radically things began to change. Buyers could now finger items to determine which item suited them as opposed to having someone reaching under the counter or behind them to show us things like gloves, scarves and hosiery, to mention a few.

Today, a housewife practically could wipe out the family’s fortune without setting foot outside the door, by the use of the telephone, computer and a credit card.  Perhaps that has happened more than we realize.

It may be difficult to believe in modern times when you can’t turn on your radio without hearing about a miracle pill to correct “E.D.”, that there once was a time when feminine hygiene items were discreetly wrapped in plain brown paper and hidden from sight.

As a young girl, I remember shopping and praying that a female clerk would wait on me.

A friend of mine, a young, naive girl, just out of high school and working in a drug store years ago, was approached by a young man asking for prophylactics in a hushed voice.  Unaware of what that was, she called out in a loud voice for all to hear, from the front of the store to the pharmacist in the back, “Do we sell prophylactics?”

The young man made a hasty exit without waiting for an answer or the item he was seeking.

Shopping and times certainly have changed.

Advertisements