Driving east along I-43 last week, the morning light reflected off a tangle of brown, shiny magnetic material wound into the branches of a hibernating bush. Drawn to it, I saw it was the remnants of an audio cassette tape. That was a sight I hadn’t seen in years. What possible situation could have led up to that tape being tossed/thrown/dropped out of a moving vehicle where it crashed on the pavement and exploded into hundreds of bits, setting the tape free to flap in the breeze?

When I purchased my vehicle nearly 10 years ago, a musician friend of mine noticed the sound system with its built in cassette tape player (along with a 6 CD-changer). He did a lot of oral note taking when composing music, and thought it was exceptionally cool that in a new vehicle you could still listen to cassettes.  Fast forward to present day and another friend laughed upon seeing it, wondering who would listen to cassette tapes anymore since CDs, ipods and other digital music devices are so prevalent. [1]

Audio cassettes – like vinyl records and even 8-tracks – evoke so many memories for me. I heard NWA and Jane’s Addiction on the same day for the first time (my boyfriend had eclectic tastes). I’ve listened to motivational and inspirational speeches. I’ve answered thousands of practice interview questions. I’ve listened to a tarot card reader lay out my future. I’ve logged thousands of hours (and hundreds of batteries) while working out and listening to my walkman.

I don’t know how that one cassette made it so long into this technology age only to be tossed along the side of a highway on a freezing Thursday morning. But it sure makes me nostalgic for a good mix tape.

[1] For those unfamiliar with the ancient music-carrying device, a compact cassette consists of two miniature spools, between which a magnetically coated plastic tape is passed and wound. These spools and their attendant parts are held inside a protective plastic shell. Two stereo pairs of tracks (four total) or two monaural analog audio tracks are available on the tape; one stereo pair or one monophonic track is played or recorded when the tape is moving in one direction and the second pair when moving in the other direction. This reversal is achieved either by manually flipping the cassette or by having the machine itself change the direction of tape movement – my vehicle has the auto-reverse