Pulled Punches

I order my coffee and begin to mine my wallet for the elusive punch card.  As a small line builds behind me, I shuffle through receipts, random bills, and coupons that I still hope to redeem even though they expired last November.  A minute later, it surfaces. Just one more punch to go. I get such satisfaction seeing those little circles adding up to a free, steaming beverage, knowing when that day comes, I can splurge on a flaky pastry to go with it. I hand the card to the barista, whose hip, horn-rimmed glasses can’t conceal the eye roll I know she wants to give me.

“Um, yeah, so we don’t accept those anymore.”

I am not quite sure what to say, so I just stare back blankly.

“Yeah, we’ve gone electronic.  It’s way more efficient,” she says with a side-eye at my hoarder’s den of a wallet.

“But, I have nine punches,” I reply with a hint of desperation. The now archaic card lingers there awkwardly.  At this point, it might as well be a stone tablet.

“Don’t worry, ma’am. They will transfer,” she says with an exasperated sigh.  “What’s your phone number?”

Ma’am. Ugh.

I wearily recite my number and am suddenly reminded of the hot dog bun scene in Father of the Bride (linked below as it one of the best movie scenes of all time as it perfectly captures the art of a full-blown meltdown) and I halfway wish that I carried a hole puncher around with me so I could whip it out and start punching with abandon, like, “Oh yeah?  You don’t accept these anymore?? Well, accept this!!” and then huff off in a confetti of paper circles.

Sigh.  The hole puncher.  Another relic of a simpler time.

I am all for advancement. I mean, it’s not like I am writing this article with a quill by candlelight (although now I kind of wish I was) but sometimes it terrifies me.

I avoid software updates like the plague, I write checks, and I still don’t quite get who Alexa is or how she works.  My heart sinks with every NOTICE OF PROPOSED LAND USE ACTION that I see bolted firmly into the brick wall of an 800 square foot, one-story neighborhood shop. Those signs are like tombstones.

At what point, if any, will we regret as we look around us and realize that nothing has been preserved?

I miss answering machines and a time where if you needed a cup of sugar you knocked on your neighbor’s door instead of clicking an Amazon Fresh button.  I miss the golden foiled edges of Encyclopedia pages, where information was still at your fingertips but you had to work a little bit harder to get it.  Let’s face it, you didn’t have to worry about people reading a Brittanica while they were driving around or smashing your ‘Volume P’ on the sidewalk rendering it utterly useless.

Today my 3.5-year-old daughter and I went to our favorite coffee shop, Mabel. This particular spot has one of the best vinyl record collections AND their punch cards are index sized because they write down the drink you get and the date you order it, along with your name.  It feels almost like a general store tab. Even though I had a million things on my to-do list, we just sat together at a table by the window for two hours, listening to records, reading books, and trying to solve a Rubik’s Cube that they keep near the register.  We said hello to people as they walked in and waved goodbye to them as they left.  On our way home, we slid one of my favorite Aretha Franklin cassettes into the tape deck of our Subaru, rolled down all of the windows since it wasn’t raining for the first time in months, and cranked it up as loud as it would go.

MarissaMarissa B. Niranjan is a hopeless nostalgic who wants the world to slow down a bit while she reminisces about Pogs, dELiA*s catalogs, the opening and closing door sounds on AOL Instant Messenger, and worries that kids these days are growing up without knowing the good, clean, fun of a game of M.A.S.H.

As promised, the epic hot dog bun scene.


  1. All hope is not lost. Spinelli’s grocery store in Denver has a cardboard box with paper index dividers and 5 X7 “index cards”. Neighbors (customers) often just say, “put it on my account” and walk out with their yummy food and the wonderful lady behind the cash register (NOT point-of-sale-device) knows them without their name being mentioned, and updates their card! They also have amazing to go sandwiches and they have a paper punch card for those, too!! The lines get long at 5pm when all of us seem to descend on the store for last minute groceries for the day (there is only ONE cash register in the store). But I’ve never seen a customer (even the moms with multiple kids in toe begging for candy) get impatient or angry or crabby. A little nostalgic oasis in my old neighborhood.
    Perhaps nostalgia runs in our family???

    Liked by 6 people

  2. Yes, I agree. I own not only a hand-held punch but also a three-hole punch. I still use them. I refuse to sign up for my grocery store online coupons. I hate endless “do this online” incentives. I have never bought music from iTunes and I would rather go to a library to do real research rather than the Internet. The Internet has steered me wrong or led me in directions I don’t want to take too many times. I’m plugged in but loose in the socket.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Totally relatable. I am also still carting around my loyalty cards in my wallet and refuse to download a million different apps just for those companies to use my data for marketing purposes under the guise of “recognising my loyalty”. I really do wish for a simpler time.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Read your bio at the end — It took several tries to explain MASH to my 10yo. There are so many things I grew up with that my children will never experience. Technology makes things way too easy and can make for some lazy kids who don’t want to work hard for much or get their hands dirty. I think they’re losing more than they’re gaining.

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  6. You’re not alone on this author. There’s this nostalgic feelings I get when I reminiscence…the shrill sounds of land phones those days. Other stuffs too. These days, you can’t even be unavailable. To pay for anything online this days is like writing your biography. Lol

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I totally get it! As much as I love technology, and use it ALL THE TIME, there are definitely things I miss. I miss listening to the radio all day just to hear that one song I requested. I miss knowing and talking to the neighbors. I miss awaiting the release of a new album and running to the music shop to get it. AND, buying a whole tape/CD just to get a song or two that you like…
    Definitely. I hope I can teach my children to appreciate the analog.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. So refreshing! Many of the coffee shops in my town still use stamp cards. I even kept a few from international travels even though the chances of me using them again is so slim! I see society getting more digital, but I also see a desire to not go too far deep into reliance on technology. I wonder how fast society will move? Will there be enough people pulling back to a more analog society to slow the advancement down? Who knows…

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I sympathize completely. When I was ten, I went through a phase of going without modernities at a rate of one thing each week. I gave up when I got to cars because I realized that I had to ride a bus to school. (And to think that this was a time before voicemail and cell phones and laptops, oh my!) Anyway, now I truly long for a time when the only password I had to remember was “Open Sesame.”

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I could imagine the thoughts going in your head. I am from a different culture (India) and yet the sentiment applies equally to me. Fancier technology to do the same thing (while reducing effort) is not always the most promising replacement.


  11. I love these reflections, and so poignantly put! I am always shocked when my tutoring students have no idea how to read analog time, but are perfectly capable with digital… it is another one of those precious things I find it my job to preserve!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. It’s very true that we have become so detached from reality, a lot of high schoolers I know don’t know how to hold a conversation without pulling out their phones. Some things of this age need to be preserved, like friendly neighbors, respect for elders and listening skills.

    Thanks for the post, good to hear there is still a place to go for those nostalgic touches!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I love love love this post! I am a gal of more simpler and humble times as well! Reading this and learning about the now archaic punch card – my heart wept and I totally gasped! I have been there. I don’t like change 😑 and as if we could not have that one sacred thing in life, our beloved coffee frequent flier card. Sigh.

    Pogs, MASH and cassets!? You are my mind of gal! Thanks and for sharing. ♥️

    Liked by 1 person

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