Are things getting bigger or smaller? Based on my experience, I could say yes – and no. Let’s take a look.
Here I am, hitchhiking – with my bicycle. It’s usually a pickup truck or a van that gives me a lift. A very elderly1970s Lincoln Continental screeches to a dusty halt on the shoulder of the gravel road. “Hop in! Shove your bike into the trunk.” Most of today’s Lincolns have just enough trunk room for a ‘donut’ spare, not even a toddler’s tricycle.
Let’s talk aviation. The so-called ‘Jumbo Jet’, the Boeing 747, first lumbered into the air February 9, 1969. The far ‘jumbo-er’ Airbus 380 followed it by rotating up off the runway 36 years later. The trend was for bigger and bigger. Guess what: only a few 747s are now trickling off the production line. Some A380s are already in long-term hibernation in the desert. The backlog of orders for much smaller jets is longer than the line for the washroom at an August campsite. Smaller is in.
Let’s look at the pre-COVID cruise industry. Most of the leviathans of the sea are at anchor, hors de service, manned by maintenance crews. The trend is toward smaller vessels. The economies of scale are no longer there, for COVID restrictions are convincing many potential passengers to stay at home, spending their money on house renovations, gardening and fuel for their cars.
When we switched from Imperial to Metric measures, the escalation of fuel prices was camouflaged by the switch from gallons to tiny-by-comparison liters.
Taken any pictures lately? Sure, but did you mail your film to be processed? Used a phone booth lately? What’s that? Most of the bulky film cameras and phone booths we used a decade or two ago have been replaced by a multi-function device no larger than a deck of cards. Tiny as it is, it serves as camera, agenda, Web browser and photo album. Talk about downsizing!
Can the mega-store Costco trend meet the challenge of ‘Shop Local’ and ‘Eat within a 100-kilometer radius’? With the local growing season’s arrival, those Florida, California and Mexico strawberries will be bumped by those from roadside stands at Avonmore, Martintown and Navan. Then the peaches from Spain will be transformed into Niagara Escarpment ones.
Did you notice that the size of the bag of potato chips and the price of those franchise doughnuts are still the same? Sure, but the number of grams in each has been reduced. No price increase: clever marketing!
One thing for sure has become larger and longer: the amount of small print on every instruction manual and service contract has increased with the addition of text such as “Improper use of these grass clippers may result in serious injury or death”; “Consumption beyond best before date may cause stuttering, numbness or birth defects”; “Riding this tricycle without wearing approved safety helmet, steel-toed boots, goggles and knee pads may possibly result in delayed language development.”
Beware! The sales pitch giveth, the small print taketh away.