What If You Teleported 200 Years Ago Right Now

9 months ago

Two hundred years ago. 1821. Someone’s knocking on your second-floor window, it’s morning! You look out. There’s a guy with a long pole walking down the street tapping on everybody’s windows...weird? Not really, he’s a knocker-upper. Seriously. Before alarm clocks were standard in every bedroom, these people used to walk through the streets, waking people up so they weren’t late for work. You get up and go to the bathroom. There’s just a chamber pot... great. Well, it’s state of the art.

Fast forward two hundred years, 2021. Your favorite song wakes you up, not too loud, not too soft. You open your eyes, grab your phone, turn off the alarm, and scroll, scroll, scroll. It’s time to get out of bed and go to work. You take a shower, brush your teeth, make coffee and boil two eggs for breakfast. 10 minutes later, you put on your business-casual and go outside. Car, highway, traffic jam.

Back then, there’s an iron basin with cold water next to the mirror, which you fetched yourself yesterday from the well. You wash your face and brush your teeth with a toothbrush made of wood and hard animal hairs. Your toothpaste: a powder made from crushed bricks, charcoal, and salt. So did people back then have really bad dental hygiene? Actually, not as bad as you’d think. They ate unprocessed foods like wheat, rice, fresh vegetables, and fruits. This kind of natural and healthy food is pretty easy on the teeth, no preservatives, no extra chemicals...People mostly ate food that contained vitamins that made their teeth stronger and more resistant to cavities.

Rich people though, they weren’t so lucky. Sugar back then was an A-list elite item, and the rich just couldn’t get enough. Confectioners were constantly coming up with new candies and sweets for them, and of course, all that sugar destroyed their teeth. And it wasn’t like you could just pop over to your local dentist office...Your local dentist might also be your local barber, or even a blacksmith. The main method of dental treatment was simple — remove, remove, remove. And you start to talk like this...

Luckily, your teeth are fine, you hardly eat any sugar. You’re not going to take a shower, because you already washed 7 days ago. Anyway, getting more water from the well seems like a lot of effort. You light a fire and put your clay plate right on the coals to bake yourself a corn tortilla looking thing. Then you wash it down with a glass of milk, warm of course...You don’t have a fridge, no one does. A frog is swimming in your barrel of milk, you got this tip from some weird traveler you met the other day. The frog’s skin secretes a special substance that keeps microbes away, that way your milk doesn’t go sour.

You only have two sets of clothes, so you’re doing pretty well in life! One of them is at the tailor’s right now. Your favorite suit, the one you washed with lye in the river yesterday, is dry and ready! You put it on. Oh come on! Another hole in your shirt! Those moths will eat anything! You go outside. The roads are dirty, and the smell is...intense. People pour pots of liquid out onto the street. In a few decades, every house will be connected to a water supply system, wow! Progress! You catch a carriage, give the coach driver some coins, and hop on.

Today, you’re crawling down the highway, it’s horrible! Hundreds of other cars, and the heat is ridiculous. You turn on satellite radio, maybe there’s something interesting happening...awesome! The latest NASA Rover just took some new photos of Mars!

[1821] Back then you’re riding along when you suddenly hear the shouts of a newspaper seller. You ask the coach driver to stop and call out for a newspaper. The front page says that Michael Faraday just created some kind of prototype of an electric motor. You have no idea what that means, so you just flip over to the next page.

[2021] The traffic jam’s finally over! That sweet voice from your driving app says you’ll be at your destination in a couple of minutes! [1821] The driver doesn’t remember exactly how to get to where you need to go, so there’s a lot of pulling over to ask passers-by for directions. [2021] You arrive at the office, sit down at your desk, open your laptop, and fire off some quick emails.

[1821] You finally made it to work, the biggest weaving factory in town. You pass by rows of machines where workers sew clothes, go into your office, and shut the door behind you. The first ballpoint pen is still a few decades away, so you grab your trusty fountain pen. You read some letters, and jot something down in your diary.

[2021] Lunch break. You and your colleagues pre-order a business lunch special and chow down on it in the break room. [1821] Your lunch break starts pretty early because you need at least half an hour to walk to the nearest restaurant. You order a vegetable stew and wait another 40 minutes for it to be cooked. After lunch, you go back to the factory.

[2021] Right when you’re packing up your stuff, you get the best text of the day. Your friend’s having a party this evening! You RSVP with a bunch of emojis. You run out the building, and drive home to shower and change.

[1821] Your hand is getting stiff from all that writing. You’ve filled out about 40 sheets of accounting reports! A young man comes up and hands you an envelope. “This is for you, Sir. From Mr. Harper,”. The man leaves, and you open the letter, sent by courier, fancy! It’s from your oldest friend...he’s having a party at his house; everyone’s going to sit around and listen to his niece play some music! A fun evening, music, the company of interesting people, nice!

[2021] You make it home, pop in the shower, and put on your most stylish, but not too stylish outfit. Ready. You whip out your phone and order a car, 15 minutes later, you’re pulling up to a small house. You hear music, people chatting...this parties got potential!

[1821] You leave the factory, climb into another carriage, and head over to your friend’s house. Before that, you stop by the tailor’s, pick up your other suit, and ask him to fix that hole in your shirt! The coach pulls up to an epic estate. There are already several other carriages lined up at the huge iron gate. Ladies in magnificent dresses and gentlemen in tailcoats and top hats get out. Everyone walks down the muddy path to the main entrance.

[2021] This party is amazing! The dance floor is wild, and all you can see are arms waving in the air! You recognize the DJ from your Instagram feed; she just dropped another new album! You start to get into it, dancing, moving, fist pumping...it’s starting to get kind of hot in here. You stroll over to the kitchen to get something cool to drink. This has got to be one of the best parties of your life.

[1821] A beautiful lady starts out with a striking melody on the pianoforte. It’s Beethoven’s Sonata number 31, his latest blockbuster hit! You sit on a luxurious sofa with the other guests and enjoy the music. People clap and cheer during the piece, and go wild when it’s over, what else would you do when you’re listening to Beethoven?! [2021] Yeaaahhh! You go into full head-banging mode and jump to the beat along with everyone else. The bass is vibrating through the floor, the walls, you...

[1821] As soon as the concert’s over, the host invites everyone to the other room for a huge buffet: lobster, fruit, baked vegetables, fresh hot bread, rolls, red and black caviar...You try to play it cool, but you stuff yourself until you feel like you’re about to burst! [2021] There’s a knock at the door, and a huge delivery of pizzas, chips and sodas arrive! Sweet! [1821] The evening’s almost over. You chit chat a little, dance a waltz, drink tea and down some more of that fruit dessert. Then it’s time to go. You walk down the muddy streets until a carriage lets you on.

Before bed, you change into your nightwear, wash your face, and light a fire to keep warm. You close your eyes. You’re in a weird nightmare...some kind of dark room surrounded by strange people. There’s some sort of weird noise coming from...everywhere. It feels like a rhythmic earthquake! You dance, but it’s more like shaking than any dance you’ve ever seen. You wake up in a cold sweat in the middle of the night. [2021] The party’s over and you’re passed out on your friend’s couch. You dream that you attended some beautiful, old fashioned party... wait, isn’t that...Beethoven?


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