Would you trade your current life to be filthy rich 100 years ago?

by Honolulu Mother

I ran across a post on the blog Cafe Hayek asking the question

What is the minimum amount of money that you would demand in exchange for your going back to live even as John D. Rockefeller lived in 1916?

The author concludes that he would not:

This fact means that, by 1916 standards, I am today more than a billionaire. It means, at least given my preferences, I am today materially richer than was John D. Rockefeller in 1916. And if, as I think is true, my preferences here are not unusual, then nearly every middle-class American today is richer than was America’s richest man a mere 100 years ago.

A Bloomberg View item took issue with the first post’s implied suggestion that if we’re all better off than the richest few from a hundred years ago, inequality is overstated as a issue:

Comparing folks of different economic strata across the ages ignores a simple fact: Wealth is relative to your peers, both in time and geography.

After reading both (in reverse order), I asked myself whether I’d make the trade. Two things occurred to me: first, would I be treated like John D. Rockefeller, or would I be treated like a very wealthy woman? In other words, would it be taken for granted that my political and economic views were important and worth listening to, or would my desire to so much as vote in the 1918 election be viewed as an eccentricity to be tolerated only because of my money? And second, what I’d really want would be to try the 1916 wealthy life before making my decision. I have a sneaking suspicion that I could learn to live without television and movies when I had my pick of theater, opera, concerts, and fancy parties every night to amuse me. Microwaves and washing machines might seem less important if cooking and laundry took care of themselves with all the effort hidden from me, and I could probably handle the increased travel time given that I’d be doing it in luxury and my time would be fully my own. But then again, maybe after a couple of months I’d start to feel like my technology-free retreat had been relaxing but I was ready to bathe in the internet’s welcoming light once more.

On the question of the implications for inequality as a political issue, I agree with the response that comparing wealth of people separated by large gaps of time is not particularly meaningful. How do you weigh antibiotics and Netflix against a small army of servants and the day-to-day freedom of time and movement that comes with great wealth?

Totebaggers, would you take the deal to trade your life for a John D. Rockefeller-type life in 1916? And do you think the question is just a fun exercise in historical perspective, or something with real significance when talking about economic inequality today?

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197 thoughts on “Would you trade your current life to be filthy rich 100 years ago?

  1. The attraction, of course, would be what you can enjoy as a result of your relative position. You may not have air conditioning (that’s why your summer house is in Newport), but you can enjoy the thrill of being a major business player. If you’re Rockefeller, you’re buying up every small-time oil refinery you can find, consolidating, innovating, and you’re running all of it.

    If you follow the blogger’s mentality to its logical conclusion, you’d never leave the comfort of your air conditioned little house in order to endure the heat of a kayaking trip or the humidity during a hike in the woods.

    Still, I agree with the general point about appreciating just how comfortable we are.

  2. Unless one gets a (big) kick out of having a lot more than others, then the answer is easy!

    The recent focus on income inequality has been regrettable in at least two ways:

    1.) It’s typically based on a reliance on one of many available measures– static / point-in-time inequality at the household level. But household composition has changed dramatically over the years (for reasons unrelated to the usual claims in this arena) and inequality at the individual level is steady. And although static measures are much easier to obtain, the larger issues are “opportunity”– or here, the ability to move between income classes, which is *completely* ignored by the cited measure.

    2.) People are more focused on inequality than poverty per se. The larger issue, IMO, should be the latter.

    I suspect that a lot of this is driven by politics. Surely, the people foisting this issue on us are aware of the statistical questions at hand. But the better/other measures are not convenient to their narrative. And it’s become politically inconvenient to focus on poverty, since the govt’s popular (but woefully) simplistic measures of it are not cooperating with the govt’s decades-long efforts to “war” against it (and in fact, may have enhanced it). If the govt isn’t winning that War, they want us to focus on a shinier object/War instead.

  3. You may not have air conditioning

    Willis Carrier invented modern electric air conditioning in 1902.

  4. Eric,

    The rise of Trump seems to be poking holes in your narrative. Inequality and wage stagnation are no longer an issue only on the left.

  5. To the extent that the “Trump phenomenon” is connected to economics (and I think that’s only a modest piece of that puzzle), Is it inequality, economic “anxiety”, or a perceived lack of opportunity/hope going forward?

  6. But household composition has changed dramatically over the years (for reasons unrelated to the usual claims in this arena)

    Can you briefly outline why? If you want to point me to something you’ve already written, that’s fine too.

  7. Many, many more single-parent households (vs. 50 years ago); more singles (with people marrying later; and a higher proportion of retired folks, including widows/widowers, esp. with the baby-boomers. On the first point: take one middle-income family; throw in a divorce; and you get two economically/measured, poorer households. That’s tough on the income inequality numbers, esp. since divorce, cohabitation, etc. has been disproportionately in the lower income classes.

    Murray’s Coming Apart if very helpful there. On Murray, poverty, income inequality, etc., folks might get a kick out of this: http://www.marketsandmorality.com/index.php/mandm/article/view/871

  8. RMS – can you give me your email pls? I have something for you to see.

    I would NOT give up my current life to be rich 100 years ago. Without modern medicine, I may have died during pregnancy, or postpartum, from a blood clot or thyroid disease. No thanks! Also, I don’t think I would have liked the lack of women’s rights back then, to put it mildly.

    However, if we’re talking purely fantasy-land, I could go back in time and be Consuelo Vanderbilt or Edith Wharton or something. :)

  9. I could go back in time and be Consuelo Vanderbilt

    And be forced into a loveless marriage to the loathsome Duke of Marlborough by your domineering mother?

  10. yeah besides women’s rights, higher chance of dying from childbirth, no birth control pills, and much higher mortality rate for children, no thanks

  11. Rhett, I don’t know. But notice that it doesn’t include the unit of measure (household or individual); it relies on income rather than compensation (comp has strongly shifted toward fringe benefits over time); uses mean vs. median; and its scaling is not helpful (what % growth do the 90% have– double, triple?).

  12. Rhett – Is that household or individual? And what does it mean by Top 1%–average, median, or entry point? I think it’s too high to be entry point, for either individual or household.

  13. Rhett, domineering mothers are still around.

    The main thing I’d like about 100 years ago would be the availability of laudanum. Every other medical-related aspect would suck.

    I don’t think I’d be any more bored than in today’s world. With enough money there are plenty of books, plenty of food to feed your friends when they come over to have dinner and then play whist. People would play the piano badly and sing badly, just like in Jane Austen novels. That passes the time. I think my mind wouldn’t speed and whirl as much as it does now.

  14. And then, it begs the question: why would someone produced such a limited (or misleading) chart. Perhaps it’s to yank people’s chains? Either way, it’s irritating.

  15. Rhett, I had the same thought re Consuelo Vanderbilt!

    Edith Wharton wouldn’t be so bad. But I’d skip the emotional affair with Young Indiana Jones (ok, that was presumably fictional, but still).

  16. I definitely would want to live today, primarily for the medical and women’s rights issues. I would not have my two healthy children if I lived in 1916, and I might not be around myself!

  17. Milo & Eric

    What is your claim? That there hasn’t been any change over the past 30 years when adjusting for family composition?

  18. ” I would not have my two healthy children if I lived in 1916, and I might not be around myself!”

    Yeah, DW might not have made it through the first childbirth, either. Assuming my kid survived, I could have done like Teddy Roosevelt and left the baby to be raised by my sister (if I had a sister) while I try my hand at cattle ranching out West.

  19. And then, it begs the question: why would someone produced such a limited (or misleading) chart.

    There doesn’t seem to be much disagreement on the right and left that the percentage of wages and benefits going to the unskilled vs. the skilled has changed dramatically over the past 30 years. If you have some evidence to the contrary I’d like to see it.

  20. I would choose to live in today’s time. Both of my children were born via C-section. It is likely that they and I would be dead without modern medicine.

    Ignoring that little fact, I would definitely trade in my iPad for servants and a life of leisure.

  21. Rhett – The changes would not be nearly as pronounced, and would mostly be limited to the very top, perhaps the 1% of the 1% (or less).

    Also, the chart takes a very steep rise right around the time of tax reform of 1986/1987. Inequality did not change that drastically that quickly, so there’s something going on there where some form of existing compensation only then started counting as income.

  22. I just picked Consuelo for the fashion era – another Gibson Girl-type heiress with a happier marriage would do as well. Alternatively, we could go for an 1805 version – empire waists! Muslin! :)

  23. I am happy to be living now. My oldest would have died had he been born even a generation earlier and I would have been a goner 100 years ago. Plus I enjoy the fact that I have been a lawyer and a SAHM without it being noteworthy. I also like being able to vote.

  24. “percentage of wages and benefits going to the unskilled vs. the skilled has changed dramatically over the past 30 years”

    Perhaps that’s exactly what we want. It’s a lot easier to become “skilled” than it was 30 years ago. I would guess that a higher proportion of workers would fall under the “skilled” category now vs. 1986. So if the average or median wage of the unskilled portion is lower than it was, that’s to be expected if it represents, say, the bottom 20% rather than the bottom 40%.

  25. Milo picked up a nice detail in that chart. Massive changes in the tax laws during the 1980s altered the wage/compensation mix, particularly for upper-income folks, impacting the govt’s measurements in this arena.

    Sometimes, you’ll find an egregious comparison between CEO compensation and worker wages, but I doubt that’s the case here.

  26. I wonder what would be the biggest change we’d notice day to day? I think we’d really have issues with how uncomfortable the clothes are and how many you had to wear regardless of the weather. For women it would be things like corsets and for men it would be having to wear a suit, tie and had basically all the time.

  27. I think it would be hard for me to be rich and then encounter a rapidly changing world where my position is eroding (thinking of the end of Downton Abbey here). As a woman, if I knew there were opportunities out there for me to be more independent, I would have slowly taken them. I am not openly rebellious by nature, just work on changing things a step at a time.

  28. “the larger issues are “opportunity””

    Yes, there is a difference between a family having a low income due to a preference for leisure and one having a low income due to difficulties in finding work.

    At a different income level, similar choices are made in families deciding whether or not to have a SAHP, whether or not to take the higher-paying job that requires a lot of travel, etc.

  29. There is no way I would want to go back 100 years. I wouldn’t have the vote, I would have to wear icky uncomfortable clothes all the time, everyone would be dirty and smelly(people didn’t bathe much back then), and I would likely either die in childbrith or have a child die. No thank you.

  30. Eric,

    Did you click through on your link to the CBO’s IRS based number – “CBO finds that, between 1979 and 2007, income grew by: 275 percent for the top 1 percent of households; 65 percent for the next 19 percent; just under 40 percent for the next 60 percent; and 18 percent for the bottom 20 percent.”

    https://www.cbo.gov/publication/42729

  31. 100 years ago, cancer was a death sentence. No thanks. Modern medicine and sanitation is reason enough not to go back in time. Money can only do so much without the technology we all take for granted. Sure, TR got to live large but it still took him days instead of hours to travel out west to play cowboy.

  32. “CBO finds that, between 1979 and 2007, income grew by: 275 percent for the top 1 percent of households; 65 percent for the next 19 percent; just under 40 percent for the next 60 percent; and 18 percent for the bottom 20 percent.”

    I’m wondering how many households changed category between 1979 and 2007. How useful is this information without knowing this?

    E.g., a couple of teenagers with a kid in 1979 with a single minimum wage income in 1979 might in 2007 be empty nesters with two very good incomes, or perhaps a household with multiple incomes, including boomerang kids.

    I don’t think inequality of income is necessarily a bad thing, e.g., either my example above, or the preference for leisure. As Eric pointed out, opportunity is key.

  33. To MM’s point. I’d also need to understand the state of deodorant technology c. 1916. It doesn’t look good:

    In the 1910s deodorants and antiperspirants were relatively new inventions. The first deodorant, which kills odor-producing bacteria, was called Mum and had been trademarked in 1888, while the first antiperspirant, which thwarts both sweat-production and bacterial growth, was called Everdry and launched in 1903.

    But many people—if they had even heard of the anti-sweat toiletries—thought they were unnecessary, unhealthy or both.

    “This was still very much a Victorian society,” explains Juliann Silvulka, a 20th-century historian of American advertising at Waseda Univesity in Tokyo, Japan. “Nobody talked about perspiration, or any other bodily functions in public.”

    Instead, most people’s solution to body odor was to wash regularly and then to overwhelm any emerging stink with perfume. Those concerned about sweat percolating through clothing wore dress shields, cotton or rubber pads placed in armpit areas which protected fabric from the floods of perspiration on a hot day.

    http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/how-advertisers-convinced-americans-they-smelled-bad-12552404/?no-ist

  34. “but it still took him days instead of hours to travel out west to play cowboy.”

    So? What’s the rush? Traveling by private rail car, savoring the view of the open plains, shooting buffalo out the window as you pass? Sounds a lot more exciting than taking off your shoes to process through airport security.

  35. A useful video on opportunity, income inequality (and taxation):

    It ignores the far larger burden of FICA taxes on income, particularly for the working poor and middle class. (But hey, politicians on both sides ignore that inconvenient truth too, so no biggie.) One other notable omission: a “flat” tax with exempted income is also progressive– in that those with higher incomes pay higher average tax rates.

    The video is also nice/helpful in making Finn’s point that these measures are merely proxies for well-being. And it rightfully implies that one should not be treated favorably by the tax code if they decide to engage in more leisure or more pleasant job characteristics than others. But one big omission: per a big chunk of our discussion, there’s nothing on variance in household types.

  36. Rhett – As with anything, you’d get used to the smell. It’s like going sailing for two weeks. The second day, you feel really disgusting. The third, and all subsequent days, you feel just fine.

  37. I’m wondering how many households changed category between 1979 and 2007. How useful is this information without knowing this?

    The 1% in 1979 were likely an almost entirely different group than the 1% in 2007. The question is why did the share of income going to top earners change so dramatically?

  38. Ha! When DD starts complaining about her life, I pull out our copies of books like “What If You Lived Among the Hopi” and “A Day in the Life of a Child in Ancient Rome” and point out that she lives better than anyone in history.

    I have been waiting to show her a few documentaries in this vein, too – “Not One Less” is awesome and kid-appropriate (about a child who is sent out to work and the very young rural teacher who sets out to find him) but would love any other suggestions. I’d like to show her how other people live without scaring the pants off her :)

    Despite my love for Edith Wharton and her design aesthetic I wouldn’t go back in time to live her life. At least now I have better medical care and the right to divorce.

  39. What Mooshi said – there’s no way I’d want to go back in time. Limited rights as a woman, horrible clothing, odds of dying in childbirth much higher (not to mention no epidural). Not sure how widespread indoor plumbing was. I guess if I was filthy rich, I might have indoor plumbing? And I have to think that my current standard of living would be considered luxurious compared to 100 years ago.

  40. I’m with the medical advances folks. If I’d been born back then, I’d have been S.O.L. in terms of my skeleton. Artificial hips over Rockefeller wealth any day. It’s not like my marital and professional choices would have been all that possible/permissible back then, either …

  41. “I think it would be hard for me to be rich and then encounter a rapidly changing world where my position is eroding (thinking of the end of Downton Abbey here).”

    Yes, it’s remarkable how cheerfully and stoically the Crawleys endure the changes. “We’ll simply have to reduce staff. We’ll develop and lease more of our land. Our eldest daughter can raise pigs for fun and profit. The chauffer who stole our daughter is going to live with us as a member of the family? Great! Our other daughter wants to get her bastard child back to raise as a ward? Sounds good. A negro musician playing in our house? Why not! My valet, who dresses me after my bath, is a homosexual? Meh. No big deal. In fact, let’s make him head butler. The War changed everything, you know.”

    In fact, only Carson is the one who has any real difficulty with the changing times, but that can mostly be assuaged by the kind words of the wise and sympathetic earl.

    If an American writer produced that show about a post-bellum Southern plantation with sharecroppers, we would never hear the end about how it whitewashed history.

  42. I am amazed at how people adapt. Lots of things people in the West take for granted like electricity, indoor plumbing etc. are not universally available in the home country. Yet people there leapfrogged from no phone at all to cell phones to taking pictures, to sweeping the floor with a broom while talking on a cell phone.

  43. I guess if I was filthy rich, I might have indoor plumbing?

    Yes, it was around from the mid-1800s, so I think you could safely count on indoor plumbing. Although you had people who could well afford it but never bothered putting it in because servants were still so cheap. I remember reading about Virginia Woolf and family finding that somewhere in the 20s they were really having trouble finding servants to deal with their nasty outhouse-in-yard situation in &*)ing London. It really made me think less of the Woolf family that they wouldn’t see a need to fix that issue until they had trouble keeping servants because of it.

    There really would be a big difference between 1916 and 1816, even ignoring the ‘middle of a world war’ versus ‘finally mopped up Napoleon’ thing. 1916 rich = indoor plumbing, automobiles, powered flight (but not for commercial passengers really), trains with private parlors and fancy dining cars, phonographs, telephones and telegraphs, portable cameras, 4.5 days of luxury to cross the Atlantic, food that can reach you from thousands of miles away still unspoiled and kitchens capable of producing consistent results (e.g. gas stoves / ovens, artificial refrigeration), manufacturing power to make books and sheet music and musical instruments and cosmetics and knick-knacks and furnishings and dishes affordable in large quantities, medicine that has discovered germ theory and anaesthetics, young women of the moneyed class attending college at almost the same rate as their brothers and some going on to become astronomers or writers or the rare member of a profession. 1816 rich = chamberpots, horsepower only, a few crazy inventors trying out steam power and rails, hot air balloons, writing and painting still the only way to record information, news can’t travel faster than a ship / horse, ocean crossings are only by sail and take 6 weeks or longer, food is mostly local and spoilage is a real problem, prices on cloth and dishes and other manufactured goods have come down a lot because of the industrial revolution but not nearly to the point they will a hundred years later, fabric colors more limited (no coal tar dyes yet), bleeding still state-of-the-art medicine, women’s colleges still a wild idea proposed by a few bluestockings and professions not open to women at all (but you could as a wealthy amateur try your hand at science).

    The clothes would be fun either way, though.

  44. Oh yeah, forgot: 1916 = rich house is wired for electricity including electric lights; 1816 = candles and oil lamps — gas lighting is well in the future still.

  45. We were watching the ‘The [fill in era] Farm’ shows last year and we’d started with The Edwardian Farm. My impression was, ‘these people work their butts off all year and the big reward is a half day at the sea shore through a church outing? Poor things.’ But then we watched the Tudor one, Tales from the Green Valley, and then The Victorian Farm, and by then I was thinking, “The Edwardians got to take a day off to go on an excursion once a year? Sweet!”

  46. I’ll gladly take off my shoes (which I no longer have to do thank you tsa pre) for the privilege of having nice clean restrooms, clean water and food, and a smoke- and spit-free environment on my journey.
    It’s not even close.

  47. Scarlett, I just stared at that comment for 30 seconds, wondering what noted feminist or reformer could have been mistyped as “Tsa pre.” Then it hit me: TSA pre-boarding.

    It would help me if my children slept past 4:30 AM. Just occasionally, for kicks.

  48. Yes, it’s remarkable how cheerfully and stoically the Crawleys endure the changes.

    To me it’s not that remarkable because they stayed rich. If it Downton Abbey was stripped bare with water running down the walls like the house Barrow interviewed at, then I’d agree they’d be a lot less cheerful.

  49. Speaking of staying rich. On the show, the Crawleys had Crawley House as their London home. It was fictional of course, but I was reading that Rupert Murdoch got married to Jerry Hall at Spencer House, the London home of the Earl Spencer.

    260 years after it was built by the first Earl, it’s still owned by the 9th Earl.

  50. Would that be the guy whose nephew is in line to inherit the throne? That family has done all right.

  51. “the Crawleys had Crawley House as their London home.”

    is that where Rosamund lived, or was that separate?

  52. I want to catch up with the Crawleys in 1943. Master George might be flying night missions over Berlin.

  53. I saw a TV program about the real Earl of Highclere Castle (aka Downton). I think he is the 8th Earl.

    I would rather be poor and live now vs.100 years ago. I love modern conveniences and medicine.
    I was happy to hit my A/C button when I was too hot in my car today. I was really happy that I was hot. I could talk all day about how happy I am that this winter is not like the 2015 winter.

  54. is that where Rosamund lived, or was that separate?

    That was different. They were over Rosamund’s and the Earl said I really should open up Crawley House but it’s hard with the reduced staff we have now.

    Lady Rosamund Painswick (née Crawley), b. between 1860 and 1874[1]) is the widow of a very wealthy banker, the late Marmaduke Painswick and the daughter of the previous Earl of Grantham and Violet Crawley; her closest ally within the family is her only sibling Robert. She is the sister-in-law of Cora, aunt of Lady Mary, Lady Edith and the late Lady Sybil, aunt-in-law of the late Matthew Crawley and Tom Branson and great-aunt of Sybbie Branson, George Crawley and Marigold.

    She lives in London by herself on 35 Belgrave Square

  55. Milo – Rosemund had her own house. The Crawley London house was different. There was downsizing going on at the Crawley London house. Edith’s London flat is more like what wealthy people could expect to have as a London place in the future.

  56. Or maybe a service flat like the kind seen in Poirot (and probably what Bertie Wooster had too), where you had your own kitchen (and probably space for a valet) but housekeeping and the ability to have meals sent up came were included in the rent. Sort of like assisted living for able-bodied people in the prime of life.

  57. Edith’s flat looked like a studio, but then it couldn’t have been right? There were just rooms that they didn’t show?

    I take modern medicine, women’s rights, and conveniences anyday. But HM is right – 200 years ago was even worse. I was just reading about the yellow fever outbreak in Philadephia in the 1790’s, and it sounded unbelievably awful with the bloodletting and purging as the main treatment.

  58. @ Rhett – it’s the location that is expensive. I remain unimpressed with the inside of the luxury London houses as compared to the U.S.

  59. Would that be the guy whose nephew is in line to inherit the throne?

    The very same. It’s so very old school.

  60. Louise, yes, I was thinking of Rhett’s dream of living in a hotel as I typed that!

  61. On the medical science thing, I’m old enough to remember my mom wondering when I would finally get the mumps. Or tonsillectomies being considered routine, but my neighbor dying during one.

    OTOH, I’m guessing that 100 years ago there wasn’t as much need for AC here as there is now.

  62. “housekeeping and the ability to have meals sent up came were included in the rent”

    Wasn’t that the deal at 221B Baker St.?

  63. 100 years from now, people would have the same reaction to backwards time travel requiring them to rough it early 21st century style. The quaint search for outlets to recharge devices. Having to wait two days for online deliveries. Sunscreen

  64. 100 years from now, people would have the same reaction to backwards time travel requiring them to rough it early 21st century style.

    Or at least we hope so. That sounds better than “people a hundred years from now, living a precarious life in the few safe zones and making periodic runs into the blasted ruins of the great cities, would be amazed at both the wealth of our period and our obliviousness to the gathering storm clouds.” Or worse yet, “the Earth’s new dominant species, roaches, will have no concept of “past” or “century.”

  65. 221B Baker Street was more of a room (or suite of rooms) in a boarding house.

  66. I agree with most (all?) of you in that I’d prefer to live today, at almost any income level. I was thinking more of technology, but you all have pointed out some other basic advances that make our lives more free, enjoyable, and productive. And although it’s probably against human nature and the way politics works, I believe it’s more productive to focus more on the quality of life of the lowest income levels rather than the inequalities between levels.

  67. Scarlett,

    I was thinking about that and the Echo. The other night at the hotel I walked in and almost said, “Alexa, living room on.” like I do at home. It felt sort of odd to have to physically turn the lights on, it seems more natural to just tell the lights what to do. Just today, I learned that Alexa can now summon you an Uber.

    Going forward 20 years I think it will be like the move Her where many of the things we know do via a screen and typing we’ll do just by asking. Going forward 100 years, you would have some kind of neural implant that will act as an extension of your brain. Rather than summon an Uber with your voice, it will “know” you’re heading to the beach and the pod will be there when you walk out the door.

  68. In terms of comfort and convenience, what’s gotten worse in the past 50 or 100 years? The only thing I can really think of is air travel, but that’s partly a factor of democratization.

  69. The only thing I can really think of is air travel

    Not at a given price point.

    First class then:

    First class now:

  70. Rhett,
    You are already living 20 years ahead of me. I had to Google “Echo” when you first mentioned it here. And I’ve never used Siri.

    However, I was able to correct DS when he claimed that Radiohead was still not on Spotify. The look he gave me after checking it out himself was priceless.

  71. Milo, even though the service sector has grown, there are whole areas of service where people are expected to do it themselves or not at all. Dealing with your luggage: once there were porters and curbside check-in available as a standard thing, now you’d better not pack more than you can carry. Secretarial / clerical tasks in the office: once as a white collar worker you might have had a secretary making your travel arrangements, taking and typing up notes of a meeting, arranging for a conference room and making sure there’s coffee in it. Now you probably have to do it yourself — axing most of the clerical staff was a big cost saving when the organization got everyone computers 25 years ago. Pumping gas and putting air in your tires — I really don’t mind doing this, but if I did I’d be SOL because full service stations are hard to find. Shoeshines — like ironing, I think we just have ceased to expect this as a standard part of being well groomed.

  72. My grandparents and great aunts/uncles were living/born around 1916. I always enjoyed hearing about how they did things differently. If I were Catholic (and my town was heavily Catholic then), there’s a good chance I would have been a nun, because I would have wanted an education and I like to run things. I grew up near a major WW II army hospital and after I was done running my ward there, I likely would have gone on to be an abbess. My grandma, born late in 1916, had to relearn how to walk after she recovered from the influenza epidemic of 1918.

    Technologically and medically, I think now is a far better time to be alive, and my lack of interest in being “rich” in 1916 makes that an easy call.

    Personal relationships were very different then and ignorance about global problems is, in some ways, bliss.

    My grandparents knew the same people for 80 years. Embarrassing childhood/early adulthood moments stuck with you for life. You knew people remembered even if they didn’t bring it up. My grandmother first traveled 80 miles from her home for a choir competition when she was in high school. Before that, she probably never went more than ~10 miles from home. Many of her neighbors were relatives. (Half of my Dad’s elementary school class in the early 1950’s was “cousins”, including second and removed.) My farmer ancestors of that era had large families with no deaths from childhood diseases- I’m not sure what extent that was luck and what extent was lack of overcrowding on their farms compared to cities, where public sanitation and overcrowding were more problematic.

    My mom’s family was musical and the eight siblings + lots more cousins spent some evenings and virtually all Sunday afternoons singing and playing various instruments. The length of Russian novels probably fit well with free time available on Midwest winter evenings.

    Modern C-sections are largely a precautionary measure for the health of both mother and baby. 30% of babies didn’t die of delivery complications at birth before C-sections, though infection was far more common and deadly. We can choose C-sections when they are of marginal benefit because they are now so safe.

    Going back would be hard, but if I had been born into it and not known the difference, my life would be much like my grandmother’s life- not bad, in her estimation.

  73. For shoe shining, this is the more typical replacement for the old wing-tip or cap-toe. Not much shining required.

  74. “you would have some kind of neural implant that will act as an extension of your brain”

    A number of years ago, I read an article written by a guy who had implanted an RFID chip on himself, which, along with a bunch of hardware installation, freed him from things like carrying house keys or access cards.

  75. “Oh, and commute times . . .”

    Don’t forget smaller beaches (including no beaches in some places) and less reliable trade winds.

    People in our generation who like to fish and dive will tell you how much worse things are.

    And don’t forget how diseases aren’t so regionalized, e.g., Ebola, dengue, zika.

  76. Job security, especially for those without college degrees.

    College costs, for that matter. Or trying to get accepted to college.

  77. “If I were Catholic (and my town was heavily Catholic then), there’s a good chance I would have been a nun, because I would have wanted an education and I like to run things.”

    I could see you running a school.

  78. My grandmother was a elementary school teacher in the 1940’s. Once you were “showing” with pregnancy, you had to take time off. Can you imagine?

  79. “Or trying to get accepted to college.”

    Baloney. There are far more opportunities and avenues to go to college now than there have ever been.

    “Don’t forget smaller beaches (including no beaches in some places)”

    But we’ve built lakes.

  80. I don’t think that the heir to the Crawley estate (or maybe he would be Lord Grantham by then) would go into the RAF (maybe if he already had some heirs). He could run the local militia and turn more of his land into growing crops or raising animals, and hire a bunch of land girls to work there. That is my impression from the books I have read about England during the war – if he was a young man he’d want to rush off and join early in the war and would probably have to be stopped by his mother/aunt/grandmother, etc. through entreaties and tears. The death rate of those pilots during the first few years was very high. But I don’t know what year it was when the show stopped – maybe he will be old enough to be married and have children of his own.

  81. It is a lot harder for a white third generation college applicant to be accepted at an elite school than it was for his grandparents. The flip side of course is that, as Mio noted, there are far more opportunities for those whose grandparents barely finished high school.

  82. ssk – Some interesting links and posts here

    for example…

    Lieutenant Henry George Alan Percy, of the Grenadier Guards, twenty-seven years old, ninth Duke of Northumberland, who died on active service on May 21, left unsettled estate of the gross value of £1,446, 489. Net personality is £1,092,538, and estate duty of £193,883 has been paid.

    Probate of his will and codicil has been granted to his mother, Helen Magdalen, Duchess of Northumberland; his uncle, Lord Eustace Percy, and Lord Halifax, the Foreign Secretary.

    The young Duke died while leading a party of forty men of the Grenadier Guards in a bayonet charge against a German machine-gun enfilading British troops near Louvain.

    The wife of one of the Guardsmen afterwards told how she had heard that the Duke called for forty volunteers. “The Duke led them in the charge,” she said, “but none of them returned. Later the Guards sent out a search party, but found only the body of the Duke.” The operation was successful, however. The Duke and his men had given their lives to silence the gun.

    In 1936 the Ducal estates in Northumberland were turned into a private company.

  83. I want to second the idea of having to do everything for yourself that HM brought up. It’s fairly often that I get frustrated by always having to check up on things. Like…when we recently went on vacation I went online to suspend delivery of the local paper. I got the confirming email that the delivery would not occur on the dates I specified and would resume. Well, we didn’t leave until later the first day of the hold (a Sunday) so we were there to see that the paper was actually delivered. Called the ‘customer service’ number (in Kentucky, so no real connection to my locality) who said they’d fix it, but I didn’t actually believe them and they couldn’t connect me with anyone local to give me more assurance, so I canceled the paper. yep, canceled. Finally about a week after we got home someone local called to ask why and win me back, etc. Well, I got the numbers of the local cust svc reps and the numbers of the route supervisors and was told to call them for future holds. The local people hate the national call center set up, too. But it’s not unique to the paper or me…it’s everywhere and all in the name of efficiency.

    Granted, I do benefit from the efficiency sometimes: DW, traveling, just forwarded a text to me that looked like it was from Bank of America saying there’s an issue with our account and to call the number shown. It sure sounded like the bank when I called, but they then said I needed to enter my debit card # to lift the hold that had been placed due to suspicious activity. I hung up and called B of A thru their phone app, got right to a rep since I am a highest-tier rewards member and she confirmed it was just a phishing attempt. That kind of efficiency would never have been possible pre-cell phone, but still in the debit card era (80s-early 90s)…I would have had to call the branch which closed at 3pm, or maybe there would be an 800 # to call on the card, if I had the card with me. (of course pre-cell phone DW would not have gotten the phishing text to begin with, so maybe that’s something that’s gotten worse).

  84. Fred, OTOH, back in the day, you wouldn’t have gotten the phishing email in the first place.

  85. I am giving up on college admissions because It’s too hard to get admitted even if you’re a great kid.

    A boy from our town was deferred from Vassar. He applied ED, and it would have been binding so he would have enrolled. It is a very good school, but it’s not Stanford. He is an Intel finalist. Almost perfect SATs and he is a guy trying to get into a school that still has a gender imbalance. Who did they decide to admit instead?

  86. “There are far more opportunities and avenues to go to college now than there have ever been.”

    But it seems to be much more of a fun-sucking rat race.

  87. “I am giving up on college admissions because It’s too hard to get admitted even if you’re a great kid.”

    OK, but I hope any kids you might have aren’t giving up.

    But this does support my point that the college admissions process is worse than it used to be, at least for some people.

  88. “But it seems to be much more of a fun-sucking rat race.”

    Speak for yourself. My grandfather dropped out of the eighth-grade to help support his family, and there was no G.I. Bill because a childhood illness had left him deaf in one ear and unfit for service.

  89. Rhett – that was the house of the Duke of Northumberland, who was killed “silencing the gun”?

  90. I can’t go back in time, not even to recent times. I’ve been watching The People vs. OJ Simpson (it’s actually pretty engaging), and it’s unbelievable how bad things were for Marsha Clark as a working mother in the mid-1990s (and also how dated everything looks).

  91. “think Finn means vs 1996, 86 or 76.”

    Arguably, they were not as prestigious then, because you beat out fewer people to get in. Now you could probably go to William and Mary and claim the same level of exclusivity. Bully!

    You could even tie this back to your previous inequality chart and show that graduating from Stanford was not going to get you nearly as much money, anyway.

  92. “That was his house:”

    All the more tragic. He truly did have “so much to live for.” ;)

  93. Like all the other women who have posted, I wouldn’t want to go back because I would have died of asthma as a kid; if I’d survived that, DD and I would both have died in childbirth; and if I’d survived that, I’d now be in a long descent to senility thanks to undiagnosed thyroid problems. That, and no one would listen to me — I’d be the hysterical bluestocking with her crazy ideas (which, IME, is the fastest way to actually go crazy/angry/bitter).

    But if we could go back in time to a fictional history where women and minorities are equal under the law and modern medicine exists, yeah, I’m totally in. I can live without air conditioning if I can head to my summer estate on the beach or in the mountains. It doesn’t matter how long it takes me to get somewhere, because the whole world moves at that speed — it’s not like everyone else is teleporting and I’m whipping my horse for all it’s worth to catch up. It doesn’t matter that there’s no email or fax, because I don’t need to work a job to support myself any more and can just run my business in my own sweet time — which, again, is the same time all my competitors are dealing with, and how businesses were run successfully for hundreds of years before email. Not having recorded, modern music would suck. But there are books and social/family gatherings and hobbies, and going to a movie would be a real event. And seriously, no liposuction? GOOD. Less pressure to look like some idealized Barbie doll, because you’re stuck with what you were born with.

    Basically, I’ve adjusted over the course of my life to having a lot of these things that I now take for granted. But I also remember being happy without them. So having that version of life back, with the added huge bonus of living in extravagant luxury, doesn’t sound that bad.

  94. I realize that it goes against the original premise of the post, but sometimes I think about going back in time to take advantage of something like buying Microsoft stock when it first went public. It brings up other issues surrounding warning people about the Challenger disaster or 9/11 – but probably people would think you were crazy and try to silence you!

  95. Another minor point (yes, I’m missing the forest for the trees) — the mention in one of the original articles about not being able to go out for Thai food, to me, seems like a failure of imagination as to what it would be like to like with the Rockefeller level of riches. If you developed a taste for penang curry or tom kha in the course of your world travels, why do you need someone to open a Thai restaurant? Just ask your butler to arrange to hire a couple of Thai cooks. Your staff will take care of the details of bringing them from the then-Kingdom of Siam to your residence along with a few barrels of fish sauce and sacks of jasmine rice and seeds / slips for growing galangal, lemongrass, kaffir lime trees, etc, as well as sending a couple of gardeners down to south Florida to get those growing, and so on.

  96. SSK, in a goofy-but-fun time travel series I once read, they were in the allied military in Britain in 1941 and wanted to warn about Pearl Harbor but knew it would sound crazy, so instead they went up in a high-elevation aircraft and did an unsecured broadband broadcast several days before of a goofy radio show (imitating Casey Kasem) that as I recall was something like, “I wanna give a big Iraisshimase to Admiral Yamamoto and the Japanese fleet currently steaming toward Pearl Harbor! Admiral Nimitz, get those battleships the hell out of there! And Lt. Tyler, when you see those blips on the radar they ain’t gonna be those B-12s from California!” Of course this crazy broadcast heard by so many is widely talked about. In the book, Pearl Harbor does still happen but with much less loss of life and they figure out that it was Lt. Tyler giving the early warning that made the difference. (They also get hauled before a congressional committee in their modern time for deliberately altering historical events.)

    (If anyone is interested, it’s http://www.amazon.com/Timeshare-Time-War-Trilogy/dp/0441006388/ . Lead character is kind of a Mary Sue or whatever is the male version, but it’s fun.)

  97. “take advantage of something like buying Microsoft stock when it first went public”

    Sort of like Biff in Back to the Future.

  98. “I am giving up on college admissions because It’s too hard to get admitted even if you’re a great kid. ”

    I agree. My DS is much smarter and hard working than I ever was. He has better grades and SAT scores and takes harder classes. He will go to a lower caliber school than I did, because of the more competitive admissions process. I’m not as bothered as I might be, because the major/career he’s selected isn’t as influenced by a prestige factor, but it still seems very unfair.

  99. Wait ! Is that guy’s name Lord Percy ? IIRC, his family were rivals of Anne Boyeln’s family in Tudor times. Now I must click on those links….
    Hmm… have read too much of Phillipa Gregory.

  100. As a middle class woman and a member of an oft-persecuted religious minority, I am happy to have been a post world war II baby boomer, with an historically maximum (thus far) opportunity for education, earnings and individual personal freedom and full protection of law and custom. However, if I could have been a member of the British or French branches of the Rothschild family a hundred years earlier I think I would have been very content.

  101. “Admiral Nimitz, get those battleships the hell out of there!”

    Or Husband Kimmell. (That’s a name you don’t hear too often in Kindergartens these days. Mason, Henry, Ethan, Husband, Jack…)

    When a group of us flew out to Pearl for summer cruise, our boat wasn’t around, so they brought us to the squadron commodore’s office, which he told us was the very office from which Kimmell observed the attack and, according to Wikipedia, got grazed on the arm by a .50 cal round.

  102. HM,

    If you were suddenly transported back to 1941 how and to whom would you prove who you were? I think this would be easier for guys as we’d likely have our phones and wallets on our person.

  103. Rhett, you think an ID in a non-existent format showing you hadn’t been born yet will convince people of who you are?

  104. Rhett, I’d probably go hunt up my grandparents and be all, “I know these family stories! I have these distinctive family features! You have to believe me!”

    Now I want to see a movie that’s like Six Degrees of Separation with a time travel twist.

  105. Rhett, you think an ID in a non-existent format showing you hadn’t been born yet will convince people of who you are?

    I was thinking my chip credit cards.

  106. So this young guy in weird clothes shows up at your apartment claiming to be your great-grandson, shows you a small plastic disc that when held on end projects a small hologram of his head slowly doing a 360 degree turn while a bored voice recites his name and home city, and asks you to help him out because he’s suddenly time traveled and none of his monetary credits work and his technical skills won’t be marketable for another 60 years. Do you invite him to come stay with you?

  107. Do you invite him to come stay with you?

    Of course. Any demonstration of technology I’m not familiar with and I’m totally sold.

  108. So this young guy in weird clothes shows up at your apartment claiming to be your great-grandson

    “Hi! You must be Emily and Lucien! You have money from mysterious sources! Can I have a pony?”

  109. Would reducing the significance of the Pearl Harbor attack really matter all that much in the course of the war? I’m not a good historian on this. The carriers were more important, anyway, and they were already out to sea. If we could somehow thwart the attack, would the U.S. mobilize so quickly to start churning out ships and planes?

    I’d rather go back and tell the secessionists “look, this business is not going to end well for you. In fact, you’ll lose everything, and it will plunge you into relative poverty for the next 80 years. Contrary to your goals, it will be the single most important event for the federal government to consolidate power.”

  110. Finn,

    You forget how your drivers license photo would look like under a microscope, it would be obvious to anyone who knew what they were talking about that it was printed with technology that didn’t exist.

  111. I’d tell them to buy out the slaveholders. It would be cheaper than the war.

    Granted, this is going to take some serious power of persuasion. I’d have to bring a copy of “The Art of the Deal.”

  112. What I would find really frustrating about traveling back to 1941, or 1860, is that I’d want to give them a big boost on things like penicillin and antibiotics, but the Hell if I know where to even begin.

    I could usher in the jet age a lot sooner, even give some helpful preliminary suggestions for the atom bomb. But with medicine, I’d just be like “Look, you got to make these pills that fight viruses,” and I’d just be sketching out the greenish blobs that you see on cold medicine advertisements.

  113. HM, if it was 1941, I’d look for my parents. They wouldn’t have met yet, so I guess I might have to be like Marty McFly and need to make sure they do meet.

  114. You can watch The Final Countdown with Martin Sheen to see what happens to a whole carrier traveling back in time to December 6, 1941.

  115. Scarlett, I know that’s not regarded as great cinema but I think it’s a fun movie.

  116. Penicillin had already been discovered by 1941. But you could probably help with what bacterial diseases it could treat.

  117. The more competitive selective college admissions process that shuts out some kids who would have been easily accepted 25 years ago is really no different from the escalation in housing costs that prevent people who grew up in Palo Alto from living there as adults.

  118. Rhett – I’m talking about giving them a really abridged Cliffs Notes version, and saying “see, that’s kind of it in a nutshell. Now get to work, and you guys figure out the details.”

    If I could find Einstein, he would already know more than me, of course, but perhaps what I told him would help eliminate other paths he was considering.

    Imagine that there’s a huge breakthrough coming in software technology in the next 30 years, and someone comes to you to try to give you the secret, but this person is not the developer but rather the IT guy you always talk about working in the bowels of Anthem Blue Cross who works out only minor details. It could be pretty frustrating.

  119. “But you could probably help with what bacterial diseases it could treat.”

    Ehhhh. I could certainly give it the old college try.

  120. The more competitive selective college admissions process that shuts out some kids who would have been easily accepted 25 years ago is really no different from the escalation in housing costs that prevent people who grew up in Palo Alto from living there as adults.

    What’s your point? And I’m only going to be an hour away, and 10 minutes from the beach!

  121. Lincoln was a disaster as a negotiator. Also, nobody really liked him initially in politics, and his wife was a psycho–did you see that face? I would get the best businessmen of the time together to work it out.

  122. My point is that the relative difficulty of admissions now versus then depends upon who you are. Sure, it would have been easier for me to get into Harvard than my kids, except that I wasn’t actually in the applicant pool.

  123. Other things, too, like I’d be in the early stages of the Industrial Revolution, and I could do some good work with steel manufacturers, but I’d be sitting in the conference room saying “We’ve got to come up with the Bessemer Process,” and I’d write that on white board in big letters, and they’d say “What the Hell is the Bessemer Process?” To which I’d respond “oh, I can’t remember off the top of my head, but you do it when it’s still molten and it makes it a lot stronger and more profitable, so, tweak that a little bit and let’s see what shakes out or Carnegie’s guy is going to get to it first.”

  124. The sad thing is that for all of us lawyers, the future developments in law we knew would be completely valueless and we’d confuse ourselves wanting to cite to non-existent precedents.

    Of course I could see time-traveling lobbyists going to Congress and saying, “Stop! Before you pass that, let me tell you how much it’s going to cost annually in 30 years time!”

  125. Rhett – far, far more. There’s technology, and then there’s the history of every war and battle, political revolution, assassination. It’s beyond pricing, but at least several orders of magnitude higher than our current GDP.

  126. This reminds me of one of my son’s favorite conversation topics, “How much would my [fill in electronic device] be worth in the Middle Ages?”

    And Rhett, make sure to send a solar charger with appropriate adapter back with that loaded iphone.

  127. Yeah, I know, I read it after I wrote that. Blow air through it, that’s it. I knew that.

    How quickly would this come back to me if I were walking through the R&D offices and their engineers said “so, the thing is Milo, we can’t quite seem to get rid of these impurities. You took Materials Science 150 years from now, you must remember something to help us out. Come on, think!”

  128. “And Rhett, make sure to send a solar charger with appropriate adapter back with that loaded iphone.”

    That I could work out. Give me a teapot and a little windmill wound with copper inside a magnet, we’ll generate enough voltage to charge an iPhone.

  129. There’s technology, and then there’s the history of every war and battle, political revolution, assassination.

    The the value of that info falls to zero very rapidly. Is your Pearl Harbor knowledge of any value once you’ve told the Archduke Franz Ferdinand to stay the hell out of Sarajevo?

  130. “Is your Pearl Harbor knowledge of any value once you’ve told the Archduke Franz Ferdinand to stay the hell out of Sarajevo?”

    True. Did you see “The Imitation Game”? They couldn’t make it too obvious that they’d cracked the Germans’ code.

    I don’t know how to head off WWI. Protecting the archduke wouldn’t much matter. As one author I read put it, Europe went to war because it was sick of peace. I think I could have more luck in Charleston.

  131. But once you change one event, the whole future might change and your predictive information would be useless.

    If you warned everyone of Pearl Harbor and prevented it, when would we have entered the war? Etc., etc.

  132. “But once you change one event, the whole future might change and your predictive information would be useless.”

    OTOH, if you take the Marty McFly theory by which a photograph from the future can transform in your hands as the mating of the subjects’ parents becomes less likely, you might assume that the digital contents in the iPhone would constantly be updating.

  133. Milo,

    In the modern day, “Marty’s” phone would still (via some mysterious process) maintain its LTE/wifi signal. You could tell Franz to duck and then see all the entries update in response.

  134. “The sad thing is that for all of us lawyers, the future developments in law we knew would be completely valueless and we’d confuse ourselves wanting to cite to non-existent precedents.”

    You have the option to go work for two years with any legal team in U.S. history (presumably to change the outcome). What case do you choose, and what what do you argue? Dred Scott? A different finding might just bring about the war even sooner. Plessy?

  135. HM & Milo,

    Twelve Oaks, the American Downton Abbey covering from 1858 to 1868 would make for one hell of a show. In the American version, Anna and Bates, Carson and Mrs Hughes, the tenant farmers etc. are the full legal property of the Crawley’s.

  136. Milo, it’s not like modern legal argument has somehow advanced to be 20x as convincing as 19th century legal argument. If anything my suggestions would be anti-helpful since my read on what a 19th century justice would find relevant and convincing would be relatively poor compared to contemporary attorneys.

  137. I’ve wonders before what it would be like to be transported back in time with all the medical knowledge that I have now. I’d be very good compared to the other doctors, but not really that good at all at actually doing things. As I get more experienced, I rely on diagnostic testing more as confirmation than anything else. I can diagnose appendicitis pretty reliably without modern technology. But I can’t treat it! Or cancer! Or plague! I’d be good at cholera. You don’t need modern medicine for cholera.

    I have to agree with WCE about the c sections and infant mortality. Unlikely that all of us would have died in childbirth. Things were worse, but not that much worse. I had a complication during the delivery of my second child. The general recommendation is to have a c section on subsequent deliveries. I did the research because I wanted to avoid the surgery. I found that there was a 85% chance of a complication free delivery, and a 95% chance of no serious neurological problems. I felt a 1 in 20 chance of brain damage was too great a risk, so I elected surgery. But we probably would have been just fine without it. The c sections for breech can probably be avoided as well. I don’t mean to devalue anyone’s harrowing child birth experience, but it takes a lot to kill a woman – the human body is designed to get through child birth most of the time intact.

  138. I suspect that more first children than subsequent children died, based on how much easier labor usually is for later babies. And I suspect emotionally, the death of a child at birth was more like a miscarriage is now- a widely recognized probability. Not all of us would have died, but fecal incontinence and fistulas probably would have been part of the aftermath of childbirth.

    My second twin was an emergency breech extraction. That’s sufficiently rare that the ~3 dozen medical personnel witnessing the birth (it was a slow day) seemed kind of excited/happy to get to witness it. At my OB’s recommendation, I had forgone pain medication to avoid adding risk to the delivery, so I was glad someone enjoyed it.

  139. I would want the safety of modern technology in childbirth. Anecdotally though, my mother was the only one in her whole extended family to have two C sections – all the rest of my aunts had normal deliveries in a hospital setting but without pain relief. In my generation my cousin who was having difficulty conceiving, had a normal delivery but she was in difficult situation after. The family hopes she will not try for another child.

  140. On a totally unrelated tangent, I had a quick trip to NYC, and OMG the pedestrian traffic was the *worst* I have ever seen. Not because of the number of people (that was holiday display weekend) — because of the $%!&$ smartphones. I am used to the tourists who amble four abreast vs. the locals who impatiently snake around and through (in fact, my normal Crowd Navigation Mode is to find a local and follow immediately in the swath they clear before the gap closes behind). But now it’s the locals who are just as much the problem — 10% of them are inching along at half the speed of the tourists, because they’re looking at their phones the whole. time. Not to mention drifting sideways, suddenly stopping wherever they are, etc. It was exactly like the drivers on the freeway who sort of drift halfway to the next lane before correcting, or stay in the third lane but drop 15 mph while they send a text before speeding up again to 85.

    So basically, the delta between “slow” and “fast” has increased pretty dramatically — you now have “impatient local” + “ambling tourist” + “barely moving/unpredictable phone snail,” all packed into the same sidewalk. ARGH.

    I tell ya, cellphones are killing us.

  141. Lab — yes yes yes on smart phones slowing down pedestrian traffic in NYC ! I have definitely noticed this and it is very frustrating

  142. @Louise — :-) Of course! But I categorize those with the “ambling tourist” bunch. I.e., I knew my unavoidable trek through Times Square was going to be slow and crowded and involve many diversions around groups of people staring up (whether at all the pretty lights or into a camera doesn’t really make a difference). I did NOT expect the same kind of stuff on 8th Avenue.

  143. IME The locals are busy texting to explain how late they will be for lunch or their next meeting. Maybe if they got off their darn phones they would not be late!

  144. I thought of Lauren and germs. DS had a bad cough and cold but all the while was busying playing on his iPad. I tried to disinfect the iPad but it still appears germy to me. Also, DS will fall down the stairs one day as he descends looking at his iPad.

  145. I don’t mind the walking and txting. However, people talking on their phones drive me crazy. I was waiting for the train the other day and this woman was yammering on and on. For God sake, just txt and spare us all your inane rambling. And, even worse, I was having dinner a few nights ago and the guy at the next table had a 20 min conversation, at the top of his lungs, in Hindi.

  146. “And I’m only going to be an hour away, and 10 minutes from the beach!”

    Rocky: Did I miss something? Did you get your house??

  147. I read something once (and remembered it because it confirmed my bias) that it is much harder to listen to half of a conversation than a full conversation. (Maybe not true if it is in Hindi and you don’t speak Hindi). When you listen to so some else’s phone conversation, you are constantly trying to fill in the blanks, guess what the other person is responding, etc.

    Full disclosure: I was that woman on the train platform, Rhett. I love talking on the phone.

  148. I really don’t care if you talk or text. Just move the [expletive deleted] out of the [expletive deleted] way.

  149. Houston, we’re under contract. If the inspection is clear (and it should be; there is already one from 2 years ago that looks fine) we will be beach bums! O_O

  150. On the half-conversation – Yes!!! My cube neighbor has insanely loud phone conversations in Spanish, and I can’t block them out. My brain thinks it’s on Jeopardy and keeps shouting answers in my head to the words I understand. It is so much harder to block out than his equally loud English conversations.

  151. “I had a quick trip to NYC, and OMG the pedestrian traffic was the *worst* I have ever seen.”

    I truly get pedestrian road rage. Between the tourists and those texting, its enough to drive someone crazy.

  152. You New Yorkers are much kinder about tourists than my sister’s deer hunting colleagues along Lake Michigan. Their comment is, “If it’s tourist season, why can’t we shoot them?”

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