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I think, therefore I harm

Back to the 90s

the90s-featureI completed my secondary studies and entered college in 1995. I thus entered adulthood that year, at least as far as the law is concerned. The late 90s were what I call my big years, these years of college when I discovered everything about life, about having fun. I discovered alcohol, marijuana and tobacco in these years. This was also when I really discovered music. I developed and discovered myself during these years. My best memories are from that era. Fifteen years went by, but I really stuck there.

As of today, I mostly listen to songs that were hits during the late 90s, or bands which were popular back then though they might have evolved in the following years. Mostly, I was obsessed, and still am, by punk rock, which was then called alternative rock. Our Lady Peace, a band born in Canada in 1992, and still active today, is still my favorite band. But The Offspring, Blink-182, Grimskunk, Sublime, Ramstein and Green Day are still bands I listen to regularly, although they would be unknown to anyone who reached their sexual maturity after 2000.

Although I love technologies and appreciate what it’s bringing to our life, there are concepts that I haven’t evolved to appreciate as much as I should. Some things were simply better in the late 90s, at least in my old mind. Screens all over the place and virtual buttons are stuff that are still popular in science fiction, which look good in theory but just won’t work as good in reality. I really like the feel of an old rusty button between my fingers when it comes to controlling stuff. I like to keep control on things, rather than this attempt at total automatisation that the world is going to.

Just like a real car advertisement. Only, slightly more realistic.

Just like a real car advertisement. Only, slightly more realistic.

In last September, my grand-mother passed away, just days to her 90th birthday. Just days prior, she was happy to announce that she had passed her medical and could keep driving. She had just renewed her permit, which always expires and is to be renewed on one’s birthday. Just a day before, my father had spent the afternoon with her at the flea market, like they did often on beautiful days during the summer. Her health was unstable, but good for her age. She was living with a man about her age in his house, far from the city, without any outside help. She was doing good. With no warning, she simply went to bed in the evening and never woke up in the morning. The autopsy, performed systematically for a death at home, revealed nothing. She went away peacefully.

She didn’t have much possession. Everything she owned fitted a few boxes, most of which was clothing which my father gave to charities. Of her little possessions, the most important asset, at least to my father, was her photo collection. She had pictures dating back to the late 1800s, likely from older family members which my father have no clue about. She had pictures of her as a little girl, even though she was born in 1924. She had pictures of her husband when he served in the Second War. We had a lot of fun looking at these pictures, most of these previously unknown to my father.

My last job came with a car, provided for my own needs too. As I recently changed job, I became a pedestrian. But in planning this change, I was actually looking for a car. Having had a car since 2007, my life is built in such a way that I need one. My apartment is not near any commodity nor is it close to my workplace. Being a low wage worker, and a person looking to reduce his footprint on this planet, I was looking for a small, used, low cost car.

Classic interior. Who needs more?

Classic interior. Who needs more?

I have a really good friend, one I can count on (and she can count on me too, obviously). For an entire month, she didn’t need her car, so she leaned it to me. Officially free of charge, but I insisted and paid her something anyway. It was a decade old Pontiac Sunfire that was barely safe to drive. Every time I hit a pothole, I thought the car was going into pieces. Parts went to the floor at the front after every hard braking. But it was a fun car to drive and it had been put into my hands at just the right time. Two weeks ago, just when she needed her car back, I finally got my own car.

Among her little possessions, my grand-mother also owned a 1999 Toyota Corolla. My father, who inherited mostly all her belongings, didn’t need that car. Neither did my brother, which isn’t currently allowed to drive because mistakes of the past. So the car ended up in my hands.

Because of bureaucratic delays, my father was unable to transfer the car to me right away. He needed a death certificate, which our government takes a long while to print and send off. Thanks to my friend, I haven’t been a pedestrian during that time, at least not the whole time.

All the necessary features, and nothing more. All hard controls.

All the necessary features, and nothing more. All hard controls.

And I can tell you I was totally surprised when I took possession of the car. Having drove a rusty car for a month, I expected the worst from an even older car. But a 1999 Toyota is a different dog. My grand-mother wasn’t a mechanic, but she maintained the car well. It’s a real smooth ride. It had only 107,000 km on the counter, as she used it mostly for very short trips. She was a grand-mother after all, not an active person as I am who likes to travel half the province to acquire a new breed of fish. What she drove in fifteen years, I will likely drive as much in only two years.

My grand-mother wasn’t a picky person, but she picked her car well. She picked the highest level of options from a car that she knew was of the best quality, and wouldn’t cost her much to maintain. I have a remote starter, remote door lock, air conditioning and even cruise control. I don’t have any computer that tries to drive for me, everything is fully manual, so I can really drive. Everything is hard buttons and physical gauges, no touch button, no screen, no digital display. Everything feels just right to me. Every time I get in the car, I feel like I’m back in the 90s again.

She changed the stock radio at some point with something that brings just the right level of technology. The new radio has bluetooth so I could connect my phone and receive phone calls and play music, though I’m still trying to figure out how to pair it. I think I could also connect a USB key to it to play music but I haven’t tried it yet. But it doesn’t look out of place, it has all hard buttons and blue lights, and the display shows random patterns while playing, just like it was trendy in the 90s.

That car is all that is left from my grand-mother, and it’s the best present she could have left to me. I made a promise to myself to maintain and drive that car for at least another fifteen years.

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6 comments on “Back to the 90s

  1. sledpress
    March 20, 2015

    Your grandmother is my kind of person! At least so far as being a canny shopper for a possession that you want to last a long time. Toyotas are work-horses.

    I have to laugh because we won’t even talk about how far back I reached sexual maturity 🙂 but I don’t recognize any of those bands either. Then again, my idea of an alternative band is the Romantic and Revolutionary Orchestra!

    • Tom Duhamel
      March 20, 2015

      Obviously it works both ways. Pretty much everyone tends to stick to the music of their era. I mentioned about the younger people because for some reason I tend to encounter and talk to these people more often, and i always have a lot of fun mentioning bands they have no idea about, but for the most part i don’t know the music they’re listening to neither.

      You might share music with my boss. He has tastes for music which are too smooth for either of us employees. As soon as he leaves the store at the end of a day, the music in the store changes drastically. We keep it customer-friendly, but just barely.

      Let’s never talk about anything relating to your sexuality 🙂

      • sledpress
        March 20, 2015

        Era? Smooth?

        Now there was an era!

        I couldn’t identify music by most of the “bands” that were playing when I was a sprout, either.

        • Tom Duhamel
          March 20, 2015

          This was actually better than what my boss makes us listen to.

          This was actually good, at 11pm when I’m about to get to bed. This is not what I’d want to listen to when I have to remove algae from 12 tanks. This sounds more motivating to me:

  2. Steve Morris
    March 21, 2015

    For me, the golden era was the 80s, which was when I was in my teens. I still listen to music from then (although I also listen to some 90s and 00s music too.) At university I discovered classical music, and my wife introduced me to choral music, so that’s my preferred listening style at home (I can’t listen to it in the car – I need rock/pop for that.)

    To avoid becoming dinosaurs I think we need to make a conscious effort to keep up with things that are new. Most of my old friends from university don’t use facebook, twitter, wordpress, kindles, or anything like that. They are rapidly getting out of touch, I think!

  3. Andree-Anne Larose
    April 18, 2015

    Arf… Les marches… nostalgie 😉 Désolée pour ta grand-maman!! xx

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This entry was posted on March 20, 2015 by in Music, Personal and tagged , , , , , .
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