What We Can Learn from Quiet Elderly Couples

It is far easier to be productive when you are connected to the Internet. Even if you are writing or coding or doing some activity that does not require an online connection, you often need to research something or search your e-mail archive. And even if you are purposely going without a connection (to focus on your task, for example), you ought to be backing up to a cloud semi-regularly. In other words: it can be really annoying to lose your Internet connection or be somewhere without it. 

I often observe this secondhand—my wife spends much of her working day commuting. Last week, I observed it firsthand when my commuter train’s engine died, and they shut off power to conserve energy. No electricity, no Internet, and the delay was going to be upwards of an hour.

I panicked. My Kindle and phone batteries were low.

I noticed that all of the commuters were either complaining to each other or to their phones. “I hate the commuter rail! It always does this!” or “I have no idea what I pay taxes for!” or “Will there be refunds?” 

Except for the elderly couple who were perfectly content just looking outside at the trees and occasionally talking. I suspect (but don’t know) that they do not have cell phones, laptops, or tablets. And I also suspect that they expect far less of technology than we do. 

That couple probably did not understand when the man sitting behind them yelled “it’s a miracle!” when the train started moving again. 

The miracle isn’t that the train was fixed—the miracle is that the train works in the first place. 

I remembered the pencils and sketch paper in my bag, and the couple projects swimming around in my head that I had not yet thought through yet. It was the perfect time for a brainstorm, a couple nonsensical doodles, and a cursory outline for a blog post. 


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