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My “engineering life” has spanned some 30 years, including summer jobs, college, a brief foray toward a different career, and stints of employment with a handful of exceptional firms. Some engineering-based firms and others multidiscipline. How things get done today is dramatically different than in the late 1980s.

Things just move so darn fast! Technological advancements have made it so easy to expect everything yesterday. Our patience as a society is gone. We expect instant gratification. If I don’t respond to the 30, 50, or 100 emails, texts, tweets, posts, and notifications I get in a day, I’m not “responsive.”

So, as I sit here typing this article, peering over my laptop, catching quick glimpses of Super Bowl 51, with my (remarkably silent) cell phone next to me, I am longing for the days of the past. The days where you had time to think, to ponder, to strategize, to re-ponder, and then to make a good decision. I miss the days when…

  • The drive to and from work was a time to gear up, then decompress.
  • A coffee was just a coffee and a third language was not required to place an order.
  • A receptionist had a pulse, a name, and a good job.
  • You needed to sharpen your pencil in order to sharpen your mind.
  • Erasers were necessary.
  • A lunch hour was really an hour, and you enjoyed it with those around you.
  • Clients and colleagues called to discuss their projects.
  • You met face-to-face with team members to page-turn and review projects.
  • Dot matrix printers forced you to take a break.
  • Computer programs took minutes (not milliseconds) to perform a task.
  • Mail was really mail, not email or voicemail.
  • Hand-written messages arrived from the front desk.
  • There was a phone with a cord — limiting everyone’s reach.
  • You had to open a book, a manual, or a text to do research.
  • Dinnertime started close to 5 p.m.

Call me old fashioned — or just older and cranky. Faster is not always better, and it is only going to get worse. I wonder what I’ll miss 30 years from now? Maybe I’ll miss the 24-7 connectivity, information at my fingertips, road rage, and my privacy out the window.

Probably not.


Andy Sciarabba, P.E., is a principal with T.G. Miller, P.C., Engineers and Surveyors in Ithaca, N.Y. T.G. Miller, P.C. (www.tgmillerpc.com) is a consulting civil engineering and surveying firm that serves municipal, commercial, institutional, and private clients throughout central New York. He would like to know how you like “Diversions;” Please send him a note at ajs@tgmillerpc.com.

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