The young clerk's response was quick. "That's our problem today! Your generation did not care enough to save our environment for future generations."
The older lady told the girl she was right. "Our generation didn't have the 'green thing' in our day," and went on to explain: "Back then, we returned milk bottles, soda bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed, sterilized and refilled so it could use the same bottles over and over. As a matter of fact, they really were recycled. But we didn't have the 'green thing' back in our day.
"Grocery stores bagged groceries in brown paper bags that we reused for all sorts of things. Most memorable besides household garbage bags was the use of brown paper bags as book covers for our school books. That was to ensure that public property (the books provided for our use by the school) was not defaced by our scribbling. Back then, we were able to personalize our books on the brown paper bags. Really too bad that we didn't do the 'green thing' back then.
"We walked up stairs because we didn't have an escalator in every store and office building. We walked to the grocery store. We didn't climb into a 300-horsepower internal combustion metal machine every time we had to go two blocks. But you are right. We didn't have the 'green thing' in our day.
"Back then, we washed baby diapers because we didn't have the throwaway kind. We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy-gobbling machine burning up 220 volts. Wind and solar power really did dry our clothes back in our day. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, and cousins: brand-new clothing was practically unheard of. But you, young miss, are right; we didn't have the 'green thing' back in our day.
"Back then we had one TV or a radio in the house, not a TV in every room. And what's more. the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief (if you know what a handkerchief is), not a screen the size of the state of Montana. In the kitchen, we blended and stirred everything by hand because we didn't have electric machines to do such simple tasks for us. When we packaged a fragile item to send, we used wadded up old newspapers or popcorn to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap.
"We didn't fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn. We used a push mower that ran on human power. We exercised by working so we didn't need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity. But you're right; we didn't have the 'green thing' back then.
"We drank from a fountain when we were thirsty instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time we had a drink of water. We refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, we replaced the razor blade in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull. But we didn't have the 'green thing' back then.
"Back then, people took the streetcar or a bus, and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour taxi service in the family's $45,000 SUV or van that cost what a whole house did back then before the 'green thing' was so important. We had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And we didn't have a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 23,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest burger joint!
"It sure is sad to hear nice young folks like you lamenting how wasteful we old folks were because we didn't have the 'green thing' back then. And I must tell you some of us old folk don't enjoy everything about being old, which means it doesn't take much to piss us off. Especially when the put-down comes from a tattooed, multiple pierced smart ass who can't make change without the cash register telling her how much it should be."