Way back when I was a kid, you looked forward to getting your license, it was your first step into freedom, you could go where you wanted, when you wanted and it opened up a whole new world. I remember having to ride my bike to the comic shop every Friday (that’s when comics came out back then) and a lot of places were simply out of my reach because they were just too far to reasonably ride to. Of course, it was a different world back then, when you were 16 and had your license, there were really no restrictions on you. In fact, I rode to high school, at least at the beginning, with a friend’s sister. She had an old retired mail van, painted bright orange, with bench seats in the back with no seat belts and a bunch of us rode to and from school every day in the back and paid a couple of bucks a week so she could buy gas. That’s the kind of world it was.
But the world has changed.
I really looked forward to getting my license, in fact, I still remember, more than 30 years later, the first place I ever went, the day I got it. I went to a local hobby shop that was beyond my riding distance, to buy a bunch of lead Star Trek miniatures for Star Fleet Battles. It’s weird what you remember.
But as my oldest daughter turned 16, we realized just how much the world had changed. New laws put serious restrictions on underage drivers. They couldn’t have anyone under the age of 18 in the car with them. That meant they couldn’t go anywhere with their friends. It meant she couldn’t even drive her sister to school. It was pointless so we decided she wouldn’t bother getting her license until she was 18, just like pretty much all of her friends were doing. She turned 18 a couple of months ago and decided to put it off until she got out of high school, she had other things to worry about, but she was taking an online driving course so she’d be ready. She didn’t have to, once you turn 18, all requirements like that go away, but she wanted to so she did. But she’s never really been excited to drive. I don’t think it matters to her like it did in my day. Why? Because she has nowhere she has to be. There’s really nowhere she wants to go. She hangs out with her friends online. They only rarely get together in person, although she used to go to her best friend’s house after school a lot while she was there. Today? She has no interest. She doesn’t have to go to the mall to go shopping like we did. She’s got Amazon. She just orders and it shows up at the front door. She doesn’t have to go to a theater with her friends to see a movie, they can all get online together and watch movies without leaving the house. Like I said, it’s a totally different world. In fact, if she wasn’t going away to college in a couple of months and had to be able to drive to school, I’m sure she wouldn’t care if she got her license now either. There isn’t any freedom that she’s been dreaming of, she’s had it all along.
I guess it’s weird the kind of things you think of when it comes to the “good old days”. I don’t have to go hang out with my friends either, I’ve got Skype, I’ve got e-mail and a cell phone and I don’t have to drive anywhere. Except groceries and other immediate essentials, I can just use Amazon too, and I do all the time. If they offered immediate grocery delivery, I might not go anywhere for food either. As important as having a license used to be, as much as kids used to look forward to it, maybe the new world is a bit better than the old one. Maybe if I could have gotten my comics in the mail, or through digital downloads back then, maybe if Amazon had just shipped my Star Fleet Battles miniatures to me quickly and easily, maybe I wouldn’t have cared if I got my license either. You never know.