Random Observations of the New Norm

Teresa Roberts
4 min readSep 26, 2023

Life Has Changed Since the 50s

Change, change, change (my photo)

Do you remember the days when you pulled into a gas station, an employee came out and not only filled your tank for you but also washed your windshield and asked if you wanted him to check the oil?

No? Well, that tells me you’re a lot younger than me.

I clearly remember those days. It was during a very tiny sliver of time when America was striving to build a strong middle class. A concept that hadn’t existed in any previous time period. It didn’t last long but during that time outstanding service was the gold standard. Why? Because building a good reputation was a popular business model. People were proud to say that they’d been providing services to the community for 75 years.

Today, I was in Target. There were zero registers open, only the self-service aisle.

Change is the norm. Nothing stays the same forever. I just happen to be old enough to remember when a live person at practically any business in town answered the phone if you called. Yes, a live person answered your questions and did their best to meet the needs of their customers. I can remember when doctors made house calls and you could get an appointment with your doctor when you were sick.

Same-day service was the norm.

I can also remember when owning a home was possible for the general population. Those days are gone. However, back in the day, ordinary young couples were able to buy a home even though dad was the only one working. In fact, the American Dream was pretty accessible as the middle class grew, became stronger, and even went to college for the first time, many on the GI Bill.

We were checking off all the boxes that qualified us to be labeled a first-world country. We were investing in the middle class, producing products that endured, and expanding modern infrastructures. The middle class had buying power and that made it possible for the country to thrive.

We became an enviable place to live.

In the 60 years after World War II, the United States built the world’s greatest middle-class economy. Amazing, right? It’s almost as though the recent past era was a glitch in the long reign of kings and noblemen. It came and it went without leaving a lasting impression on the masses and is barely remembered by those younger than I am.

Of course, I know things never stay the same.

I can accept that. Change is also inspiring and exciting. But I’ll have to admit, I was hoping we were headed toward an even more amazing time period of innovation and social progress. That we’d surpass the original definition of a first-world country to become a beacon for the rest of the world.

The reluctance of many people to stay well-informed is staggering, however.

I’m not just referring to the uneducated either. My sister is a speech pathologist in a Florida school district. She is close to retirement age. She tells me that so many teachers not only don’t belong to the union but don’t understand its purpose. She has numerous colleagues who are unclear about the teacher’s pension plan and show no interest in becoming knowledgeable.

How is that even possible?

A relative of mine, well-educated, had no idea whether he was even carrying a supplemental insurance plan in addition to his Medicare. He had to pull out his wallet and see if he had a card only to discover that he did indeed have a G plan. This is a professional man with little to no interest in the very systems that those in power would love to abolish.

How can we protect ourselves from loss if we don’t even know what we have in the first place?

We’ve already given up so much. It’s gone and quite likely forever.
It’s staggering when you consider that in the most technologically advanced age of all times, we are losing quality living and instead putting in place systems that are insufficient to meet the needs of the population.

People no longer remember that water heaters, washing machines, and dryers once lasted for 20 years or more. Today eight to ten years is common and they cost a lot more to replace. People don’t know that unions were once the answer to leveling the playing field between the rich and the poor. Nor do they remember that businesses once strived to maintain the faith of their customers.

Instead, we pay more and receive fewer services.

We make products that cost more and don’t last as long. We have a middle class that is struggling to survive and in debt. As my generation dies off, those that are left won’t even know what they’re missing. This is the new norm. How can you mourn the loss of something you never had?

Seems like a raw deal is replacing the New Deal to me.

Teresa is an author and professional myth buster. You can find her books on Amazon.

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Teresa Roberts

Teresa is an author, world traveler, and professional myth buster. She’s also a top writer on climate change and the future.