Yesterday I went to a local big box store to get a piece of plywood. After picking out what I needed and paying for it, I pulled out of the parking lot and saw a sight that I wasn’t prepared for. The picture above doesn’t really do it justice, but I’ll take my best shot at explaining it, anyway.

For the past few years, there has been a row of deserted factories along a busy street not far from where I live. I drove by there one night last summer, and their hulking shells caught my attention. I wrote about it here, and I wondered what it must have been like back when those factories were humming with activity. Americans were making money from working in them, and the town was receiving revenues from having the factory there. But those days are long gone now.

The empty factories stood there, all in a neglected row, as a silent testament to what our economy has now become. Whatever those factories once made is now being produced somewhere else. And the workers who once made those goods probably can’t find work like that anymore.

It’s inevitable that things will change in life, but I can’t help but wonder if this process makes our nation stronger, or if it leaves us all weaker. I think I know the answer to that, but I can’t quite bring myself to admit it. And at the same time, I can’t muster up the will to buy more American-made goods, rather than things made in China and who knows where else. So I’m just as guilty as everyone else in getting us to where we are today.

The sight I saw yesterday was that the factories have been recently torn down, reduced to a landscape of bricks and twisted metal. I never worked there, and I don’t know anyone who did, but I still felt a sense of loss when I saw it. There’s no turning back now, not that there ever was any real hope of it, to begin with.

So once the debris is cleared away, there will be 15 acres of prime land available for development. It’s located in a rather well-off area, so some large development will be going in there, with cookie-cutter housing and chain-store businesses to cater to those who will buy them. And ten years from now, few people will be aware that factories once stood there. May I live long enough to see that day arrive.

The curse of getting older–and I’m really not that old yet–is that fewer and fewer things are as I remember them to be. The trick is to embrace the new, or at least not turn away from it, while still remembering how things once were. A rotary dial phone with an extra long cord, UHF channels on television, a world without microwave ovens–I remember all of those things. I wouldn’t go back to them, but they all serve as a reminder of what’s come along to take their place. And still the world keeps spinning, just as it always has before. At least that’s still the way I remember it.

2 thoughts on “Post-industrial

  1. I do my best to buy american made products and shop at locally owned stores. However, big name department stores and such make it hard. I liked this post though and I can definitely relate to what you are saying.


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