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  • My grandmother often laments the state of the world "these days". When I asked her recently whether she meant that the past was actually better, she replied that she thought the past had just as many problems as the present, but that she was used to them.
    This morning, I took the second leg of a train journey home. Amtrak has started using eTickets that feature a scannable barcode. As the conductor passed through, instead of the classic click of the hole punch, there was the silence and the red gaze of a laser reading and registering. There was no tear at the perforated edge. My ticket was handed back to me whole. Was I really riding the train anymore?
    Perhaps these are the kinds of things my grandmother is missing: hole punch and perforation. Yes, the process was slow and probably caused carpel tunnel issues for the conductors from squeezing the punch so often. I will lament the loss just the same. I will miss the chik-a-chik-a-chik, the way the conductor tucked the ticket stub into a shirt pocket, and the combination of these with the rock of the train.
    Is this what it feels like when "back then" begins to pull away from "these days"?
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