When I was growing up on the southwest side of Chicago, we didn't have television or air conditioning.
Summer evenings were hot and humid, and to escape the heat, everyone would sit on the front stoops of their bungalows or two-flats. All the neighbors would be out sharing a beer or lemonade or freshly baked cookies while the kids ran through the sprinklers to stay cool.
Or, if it was really hot, someone would open a fire hydrant. Fun squared.
Just about every evening during those dog days of summer was like an impromptu block party. Everyone knew and seemed to care about everyone else.
I've often thought that the reason my buddies and I didn't get into more trouble was that most people in the neighborhood knew us. It was like someone was always watching us. They were.
Then television and air conditioning came along, and the hot summer evenings were now spent in front of the television, watching Milton Berle or the Ted Mack Amateur Hour or whatever was on in those days. No more evenings spent in conversation or sharing a beer or lemonade with neighbors or running through the sprinklers.
But I guess that's what progress is all about, technology on the march, making this a better world for some of us. All I know is that, before the TV and the air conditioner marched into our neighborhood, summer evenings on the southwest side of Chicago were much more fun and warmer in a spiritual way.
Now, we're in the technology-driven world of e-business, with instant online access to just about anything we want. Click on it, and you have it-or it will be shipped to you within hours.
We now live in a save-time-click world, but what happens to all that time we save? Do we have more time to build relationships with colleagues and suppliers?
Or more time to share a beer or lemonade with a loved one or neighbor? Or time to run through the sprinkler or through the gusher from the fire hydrant? Or time to be home every evening for dinner, to sit around the table, sharing thoughts and feelings with the people who matter most in our lives?
Or are we working longer hours, away from home more often or, after dinner, rushing off to play click-and-find or whatever it is we do in the hours we spend in front of the PC screen?
This is crazy. We put all our energies into saving time, yet we often have less time for the people in our lives that really matter.
But that's the way it is in click-and-save-time land.
When industry veteran Frank Burge isn't running through the sprinklers, he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org