I have always had a love/hate relationship with telephones. Although they are extremely useful, I have never enjoyed using them. Indeed, my parents proved extremely lucky in that I didn’t spend hours on the phone chatting with friends. Much of my spare time was spent reading science fiction or watching the latest Star Trek: The Next Generation episode. For me, phones would be used only on an “as needed” basis, much like a distasteful medicine.
Growing up, my grandparents still had a party line. In case you’re too young to remember this bit of history, not all telephones had their own line in this particular period of time. My parents, of course, did have their own line, but my grandparents shared a phone line with others. This meant that you could pick up the telephone receiver and hear ongoing conversations between perfect strangers. To be perfectly honest, I sometimes listened in to what were usually extended gossip sessions between women, much like that portrayed in an I Love Lucy episode. While it could be frustrating if you needed to make a call, it did provide us with a quiet household, one free of the constant ringing of the phone.
I remember too the amazing-ness of our first touch tone telephone. For those of you a little younger than I, we all had dial telephones before this. Dialing a single telephone number could take at least a minute as you maneuvered the dial around with your finger. We looked at the touch tone telephones with a sense of wonder at such an advance in technology. No dialing! Here was the zenith of the 20th century! Little did we know then that those buttons would easily enable the use of machine labyrinths by companies; once you dial their number, you never reach a living person. Just the endless transferring of your call, listening to muzak, and recordings of “Your call is very important to us.” We would soon yearn for those dialing days of yesteryear.
And now people can be on the phone all the time with their new smartphones. Even while driving, walking through a wooded park, or sitting with their honey. There seems that there is no escape from the little suckers. For those of us without a data connection, we’re just not the cool kids on the block. When they find out that I don’t have a smartphone, people will often look at me like I’ve just sprouted antennae. I suppose I’m still that young girl at heart, the one who would rather be watching Star Trek.
Phones? Bah humbug.