Recently, my wife and I were visiting one of our daughters and her family, and we told them a humorous story about a camping trip we went on in the early 1980s. (It’s humorous now, but it wasn’t so funny back then when we were completely ill-prepared and then it started pouring rain around midnight.)
After telling the story, my daughter sincerely asked, “How did you KNOW anything back then?”
We weren’t quite sure what she meant. She explained, “Back in those days, if you wanted to go camping, you couldn’t do an online search for, ‘What camping gear do we need?’ So, how did you know how to prepare for something you never did before?”
An important source of information was the local library. Even back then I preferred making stuff up (you know, like this weekly column) rather than doing time-consuming research. But in high school I did have to go to the library occasionally because I had to write research papers, after discovering the hard way that making up the details of Millard Fillmore’s time in the White House did not impress my 11th grade History teacher. (On the other hand, my version, complete with Ninjas warriors and laser beams, was much more interesting.)
Back then, I had a friend who was an expert about camping. And no, he did not advise me to go camping with just a blanket and no tent. I tried to call him before our adventure, but there was no answer. (He was probably camping.) Don’t forget, in addition to no Internet, there were no cell phones back then either, so I couldn’t send him a text or leave a voice message.
If I had been able to reach my camping friend and tell him our plans, he might have warned me that, “Um, probably,” is not a trustworthy answer when you ask a person, “Do you have enough room in your tent for us, too?” (Turns out this other friend who invited us did not have room — not even close. And it turns out one blanket and a package of marshmallows is not even close to being a complete set of camping gear for two people.)
In reply, she nodded her head and said, “I already knew that. I looked it up on the Internet.”