Before Phones Got Smart   7 comments

In my last post, I let you in on why I’m wed to my flip phone ’til death do us part. (I hope that means the phone goes first.)

In the intervening week, Samsung has come out with a new phone, The Galaxy 5,797 ½.  You don’t even have to touch it. The phone is armed with movement recognition!

Realizing that the touch screen is obsolete before I’ve even touched one is really sad! It started  me thinking about how  these Brilliant Phones with all their outlandish (to my way of thinking) apps are making for a very lazy generation.

Uh oh, maybe I shouldn’t have gone there, because now I feel a rant coming on. Do any of you remember the old Saturday Night Live, the original Saturday Night Live, the funniest SNL (my how opinionated I am, tonight)  where John Belushi appears in a regularly scheduled segment as a commentator on the news who gets so wrapped up in his harangue that he falls off his stool?

John Belushi

 Yep! That’s the kind of rant

But if you remember that, you can sit back and be a spectator because this rant is not aimed at you. It’s aimed at young folks, but  that covers a lot of ground in my case. ( It’s getting to seem like everyone’s younger than me) Let’s be specific, my target here is anyone under 40( (See what I mean)

The Rant Commences:

One phone

You young folks,  grabbing your phone and scurrying off as soon as it trills your special ringtone, or maybe you’re rat-tat-a-tat-texting away. Nobody has to know what you’re saying, or to whom. Well, do you know what it was like to grow up in a one phone family?

Yes, one phone

dial phone

A clunky black dial-up phone.

And when it rang, it sounded like a phone ringing.  It sat in the foyer as you entered our apartment – between the living room and the kitchen. This meant NO privacy. None zilch zero – unless you counted the coat closet. If you put a throw rug over the silver bullet GE vacuum cleaner stored there, you could talk in comfort – dark comfort.

I spent a lot of time in there – whispering… to my girlfriends.  Conversations with girlfriends were the ones you didn’t want parents or younger brothers to hear. You were plotting about boys.

And when it came to a boy calling  –   a kind of Catch 22 applied here . Maybe it was HIM which meant you raced to the phone which usually meant it wasn’t HIM.

It was only HIM if your father or brother answered. This meant a series of “Who? Who? Okay hold on.” Followed by a “-Vir-Gin-Ya, it’s for you that could probably be heard in the apartment next door.

Then I went away to college where it got even worse.

The Pay Phone

We had one payphone per floor….. at the end of the corridor. One payphone for about fifty or sixty girls. Sweet young darlings, let me pause here for one moment .

This is a payphone. You put the coin in and dialed the number.

 Dial Payphone

What’s that?  No, the number wasn’t stored in the phone. You had to know everyone’s number.

Do you know the chances of a call getting through for you, especially with Saturday night approaching? (Slightly better than getting all the numbers on  PowerBall. ) And the odds were only slightly better for you getting to make a call out ( four numbers on MegaMillions).

It also meant you had to have quarters. But only if you were the one making the call.  Unlike your cell phone, Little One, you only had to pay to make a call, not to receive one.

I know! I know! You don’t care because you never talk on your phone and you have unlimited texting. Just humor me. I’m old)

My First Very Own Phone

But ahh….then I got my very own apartment ——and my very own phone — but calls from any HIM remained complicated. You see, it was the dark ages, the early 70’s. No answering machines yet

Wait, I see a puzzled look on your sweet unlined faces. What’s that?

 No! (Sigh)  phones didn’t come with voice mail. I told you it was the dark ages.

But they were a tad sleeker and they came in colors.

 

red phone

You’d come home and have no idea if HE had called while you were out. This was when the phrase – sitting by the phone still applied; which meant if you sat there – he didn’t call. Not the right HE anyway. The phone would ring and you’d come running and it would be the wrong HE; the one you didn’t want to go out with, the one you wondered why you ever gave your number to, in the first place. But you  had no way of knowing who was calling until it was too late -after you’d answered.  The term call screening had yet to be coined.

It also meant that if you were playing mind games and said you were going out, when you really weren’t, and the phone rang, you couldn’t answer it. You could turn off the ringer but then you ran the risk of forgetting it was off, and going into a deep depression when your phone didn’t ring for days on end.

The Answering Machine

The 80’s came and went. They saw me married and then single  and back in a new My Very Own Apartment.

Answering machines had been born

answering machine

but I had a love/hate relationship with mine. Knowing you couldn’t miss a call was reassuring but it posed a problem. You came home from work and first thing, ran to the bedroom—or wherever the phone was. And if  there was no red number in the window that answering machine was no friend of mine. HE hadn’t called.

 

And if there was, you were ecstatic …….until you pushed the playback button, and your aunt Susie May’s voice filled the room, thanking you for the fruitcake you sent her.. or your dentist’s office confirming your appointment .. or the very worst, your best friend Nelly asking if you’d heard from HIM yet.

Yes, that answering machine of mine could be sadistic at times.But sometimes it was HIM. And life was good.

So there, you kids who text HIM or HER constantly, where’s the romance?

Don’t you remember the old saying “Familiarity Breeds Contempt?”

You don’t?

Oh well.

Advertisements

7 responses to “Before Phones Got Smart

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. What a great theme for your essay – the phone. When I was growing up, we had a party line. Anyone along the line (maybe 8 families) could pick up the phone and listen when you were on a call, in addition to members of your own family listening in. How nice that we now have cell phones that we can carry with us anywhere – not that one phone in the dining room where everyone could hear your conversation.

  2. Ha! Ha! I’m old, so I can completely identify with this post, and of course the “party line” mentioned in the comment above mine. Those were the days, huh? Speaking of the good ole’ days, did you happen to own a “bag phone”? There’s an idea for another post! Carrying the phone from car to car, not to mention counting those precious (and very expensive) minutes of talk time 🙂

  3. I resent this. I am under 40 (just under) and I remember all of this. The only difference was that my phone was yellow and was in the kitchen, it matched the stove and fridge.

  4. Pingback: I Can’t Get Off The Phone | From the House of Mars

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: