Saturday, June 23, 2012


I looked at my watch, and realized that I had missed the train home. It was late, and the next wasn't due to depart for another half hour. So rather than sit at the station, I wandered into one of the last big box electronics stores in existence. Traffic in the store was light, and the few shoppers that were there were almost outnumbered by the salespeople, many of whom stood around watching a basketball game on TV. I bounced from department to department, eventually coming to a point I never thought I'd reach.

I got enough stuff.

Just as when I was a kid and thought I'd never willingly eat vegetables, or enjoy reading anything that wasn't science fiction, or actually want to put on a sweater, so too did I assume that this day would never come. Surely there would always be one more gadget out there that I'd crave. After all, back then every month there was something shiny and new featured in Popular Science or the Radio Shack catalog that I just had to have. And up until that night last week, while the venue for drooling had shifted to the internet, nothing really had changed.

That's not to say I don 't keep an eye out for things to upgrade my current crop of technological toys with more powerful, updated stuff. Or quickly run out to buy a replacement for something if it breaks. No, what I 'm talking about is adding something new, something that will expand my capabilities, something that will make me grin, even while faced with the truth that my backpack is already heavier than a grunt's in Afghanistan.

When I walked into the store, a shiny display of digital cameras was perched on the counter. I love these things. But I've already upgraded several times. And besides, while I'd love to take the time to take more artful photos, most of those I take these days are quick snaps which I 'm more interested in emailing than printing out and framing. For that I have a phone, a tablet and a computer. Enough is enough.

Cell phones were in the next aisle. Like most people today, I have a box filled with old ones accumulated as I changed carriers and technology. The one currently in my pocket isn't perfect, but it does all I need and then some. It has a built-in address book with room for more numbers than people I know, it tells me when I have a message and actually makes a pretty nice phone call. It tells me train schedules, the weather and has a stopwatch, a calculator and even a compass. In truth, it might be powerful than my laptop, but my fingers are too fat and my eyes too poor to consider that kind of change.

A short stroll brought me to the video department. I have a video camera which I never use, and my phone records motion as well. Move on, sir, nothing to see here. As for TV's, we have screens in every room in our house where you'd want to watch anything. And between the Tivo and online connections, we have plenty of ways of watching movies or old episodes of The Honeymooners. Our cable can be down for days and we'd never know it.

The computer section was last. Lots of shiny new desk machines, laptops and tablets. Got ‘em all. And the new ones basically don't do anything I can't do already. Sure, they're faster and sleeker, but I already waste way too much time staring at glass that isn't a real window. And the keyboards, whatever style, still only have 26 letters. So?

GPS units? My phone and tablets have maps galore. Mini shelf-stereos? I've finally gotten the components at home wired the way I like them. Satellite radio? I've got an unlimited data plan, and gigabytes of music on a chip the size of your pinkie, so another connection doesn't really impress. And in terms of videogames, I was never able to beat Pac Man, so gaming consoles hold no appeal.

I glanced at my watch, and realized it was time to get moving, or miss this train as well. As I walked out past the DVD section, I was reminded of an old Robert Redford film called "The Candidate." In it, he plays an idealistic lawyer who runs for Congress by saying whatever he wants, because no one expects him to win. Of course, he does. In the final scene of the movie, he turns to his aide and utters the words that I too felt appropriate at that moment.

Now what do I do?


Marc Wollin of Bedford thinks he probably has enough "stuff." His column appears regularly in The Record-Review, The Scarsdale Inquirer and online at

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