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I Remember Carbon Paper

August 23, 2010

Do You Remember Carbon Paper?

This generational moment is brought to you by Amy Wartham, Director of Corporate Training, UNC Charlotte.

A few weeks ago, I was sitting in the back of one of our classes observing and our instructor, who is part of the “Silent Generation” (73), was talking about the use of carbon paper and how it pertained to records management.  There was a young woman in the class that looked to be in her early 20s and she raised her hand and promptly asked, “What’s carbon paper?”

I just about slid out of my seat and there were snickers from some of the older participants in the class.

I remembered filling out various forms at my first job that required the use of carbon paper.  It was messy and most days I would go home with blue fingers looking like I had been fingerprinted by the police.

Our instructor grinned and said, “I sure am glad I took my Geritol today,” and proceeded to explain what carbon paper was.  The young lady just sat there with a look of complete confusion and disgust for this “primitive” way of making duplicate copies.  As an example, he cited that some checkbooks used carbon paper and allowed the checks that were being written to be seen on the carbon paper for the writer’s records.  Again nothing.  The young lady said she didn’t own a checkbook and that if she needed to pay for something it was with her credit card or online.

By the end of the class, I was feeling old and wondered if you could even buy carbon paper any more.  You can.

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Cultural vs. Generational                                                                        

This is a generational moment brought to you by Stacey Dennis, HR manager at Red F.

Recently on a Monday morning at work, we were all sharing our weekend stories.  When it was my turn, I stated to the group, “I lived it up like a baller this weekend.”  A Generation Xer looked at me and said, “You did what?”  So we pulled out the “hiptionary” and read her the definition of a “baller” and then told her she had to use it in a sentence that day.  [For those of you feeling old, baller is a slang term that describes a person who is doing well, is noticeably rich, or appears to live the good life.] 

When Stacey first sent me this story she mentioned that she had been told it may be more cultural than generational but to me it is generational.  At the heart of some generational differences is that each generation has their own “language” and if you don’t understand the language you cannot communicate effectively.  Anybody remember the days of ”phat” or how about getting in trouble for using “my bad” in school?

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