Your "how did we do anything in the days before Google" moments

My car is in the shop since my recent car accident, and I have a rental car. It’s a VW Jetta. When I got this car, I couldn’t find a lever inside for opening the gas cap door, like my Honda Civic has. The gas cap door doesn’t have a space you can put a finger under to open it. There was no manual in the glove compartment. I had no idea how to open the gas cap door.

The other day, I Googled for how to open the gas cap on a VW Jetta. I found out that what you do is you push the back part of the gas cap door in, and it pops out. I tried this, and it worked. Yay! Now I won’t have to pay whatever ungodly sum the rental car company would charge for filling up the car, when I take it back.

I wouldn’t have had any idea how to find this out if it weren’t for Google. It was another “how on earth did we get anything done before we had Google” moment for me. Share some of your moments like that in this thread.

I think internet search engines should be a tech in Civilization-type games, and should give a research bonus.

I’m old enough to remember a time before search engines, but I still wonder sometimes how we managed to get anything done then. I’m sure it will seem even more amazing to my baby when she is older, that people managed to get anything done or find anything out when they didn’t have search engines.

I bought things blind. No Yelp, Google reviews, Amazon reviews, nada.

I should mention that I don’t know anybody who has a Jetta. Even if I did, I would be really embarrassed to admit to them that I couldn’t figure out how to open the gas cap door. Google let me find out this information without having to admit to anybody else that I am a moron who cannot figure out how to open a gas cap.

We used Altavista, or Hotbot…


You would have figured it out then but you don’t think that way anymore.

Solution: Call the car rental company or a VW dealership from the payphone at the gas station and ask them.

Phone book. Friends. Actual human contact!

Prior to the current technologies, things moved slower, or gave the appearance of it. Few things were life and death communications, gotta-have-it-now mentality. These days how many people do you observe with their head down, one or both hands glued to a smartphone getting/giving the latest mindless gossip, yet the whole world around them is missed completely?

I concur with Farmer Jane, up to a point. Recommendations from family and friends made buying decisions easier. The irony in that today is a recent poll found Millennials by and large opt for the corporate online marketing lies and hype in making decisions over their families and friends. They are living the dream “it’s on the Internet so it must be true.” Gonna be a hard lesson when those dreams turn into nightmares real quick.

Oh hell’s bells, I couldn’t figure out how to open the gas cap on my new honda Fit, either. In my defense (not that there’s much of one) I’ve always had a Toyota Corolla. Various years, but they all had a lever inside.

I went crazy looking for it. Then I googled it and discovered you just press it.

I wasn’t going to confess to anyone but you did, so SOLIDARITY!

But it’s a lot easier for me, for some reason, to admit that I can’t figure out how to open a gas cap when I don’t have to go through the step of admitting out loud to another person that I can’t figure it out. By phone would be easier than face-to-face, but still harder than typing it into a search engine. Search engines, and the internet in general, are a godsend for the socially anxious like myself.

A few weeks ago, I tried to google what to do in a power outage during a power outage. In case you’re wondering, wi-fi routers don’t work during power outages.

I know. Totally. What did we do in the days before smartphones?

I had the same problem with a Jetta rental. Looked all over for the damn button or lever. Finally my wife figured out you just press it. So obvious it hurts.

Or just ask the attendant gas jockey at the gas station.

What? Where does a gas station have an attendant?

In Oregon and New Jersey, it’s illegal for gas station customers to pump their own gas.Of course, we’re talking about pre-internet days here. Oncet upon a time, gas stations everywhere had attendants. And they knew how to open the gas cap (and the engine hood) on every car ever built or imagined, or could figure it out. Likewise, the guys at the car wash knew how to drive every vehicle ever built. And the gas stations always had local street maps too, free for the asking!

It still boggles my mind that we used to have these things called “travel agents”.

We still have them! My dad uses them.

I’m not sure I could make it to the New Jersey state line without running out of gas first…

Back in college we lost power and were bemoaning the fact that we couldn’t call for pizza because we couldn’t google local restaurants. And then a friend said, “Um… phone book?” :smack:

Oh, they don’t know either. I live in NJ and every time I go to fill up my Honda Fit they prod at it in confusion and then ask me to pop the cap.

We both have a Honda Fit? I just bought one - barely been a month. “Raspberry blue”.

For me, I have to then go searching for the phone book. If I kept it. Who knows where it is! That’s what 555.1212 is for (information).

This only touches slightly on Google, but it is my favorite recent “Things have changed.” tech moment.

Mrs. FtG and I were driving cross country last month and happened to spend the night that in a city where some of her family had lived.

Early the next morning she tells me “I think my grandmother is buried here, too bad there’s no way to find out.”

Open up laptop, connect to free motel WiFi, Goolged “Find a grave”, look up grandmother (took a bit since she went by different first names), less than an hour later I took a pic of an impressed Mrs. FtG at her grandmother’s grave.

  1. A local restaurant that we wished to order take-out from does not appear to be listed in the phone book–but Google found them, despite my misremembering the name.

Pre-Google, we would have just driven to the restaurant, ordered, and waited for our food.

  1. Parents of a casual acquaintance who didn’t have internet access at home called their drug addict friend for directions to the county jail when their daughter (my acquaintance) was arrested.

  2. (not quite so related)–when my brother’s house lost power, his wife called me (several states away) to ask me to keep an eye on the local electric company’s website, and let them know if it looked like they might be due to get power back.

I think in the old days, one either called and pestered the power company, or waited patiently for power to return.