Ramblings of a Happy Mind #5
By Nita Wilson
Okay, I’ve had to interrupt my life’s story to speak on phones. No pun intended.
It seems our young’uns are discussing the outdated phones of yesterday. No, I mean seriously, just yesterday. It seems my friend’s daughter brought him into the present by getting him a new phone. Now, you may say, “Oh, how nice.” But, his old one was the same as mine and a few of my friends. Not old in our world. Still works, gets the job done, small enough to rest in a pocket, what more do we need?
It seems being in the rears with the latest ‘tin can and string’ is not a good thing. So, before my nieces or nephews decide to bring me up to date, as they say, let me say this.
#1) I have no reason to text anyone, and since I get most of my ideas while driving, the world wouldn’t be safe if I wanted to tell my sister by texting, to feed my dogs while on a trip to the Coast. Pull over? Are you crazy? My cruise control is on 74 exactly, and I have no intentions of losing that nice speed to talk to my sister. I have her number on speed dial and I can hit the number, put the phone to my ear, speak for a minute and hang up. I’ve heard some people can’t manage this simple feat and wreck their cars. Too bad.
#2) I don’t want to take pictures with my phone, I can’t see well enough on that little tiny screen to see if the picture is blurred, I have a nice digital camera for taking pictures. It was a Christmas present a few years ago from my nieces and nephews. I still love and cherish it.
#3)Music, I turn on the radio or put a CD in the slot.
#4) Aps. I have no idea what that means.
#5) Slow the hell down, people. Some of us can’t afford the latest electronics. Use the phone you have till it wears out, like those of us who are still just excited to have a phone that goes where we go. Which brings me to the old memory bank and what has gone before in my life with phones.
My first recollection of a phone was the big crank phone hanging in my grandparent’s hall in Perkinston, MS. An adult would pick up the ear piece, put it to their ear and turn the crank. Evidently a nice operator would respond and you’d tell them either the name or number you wanted; the number was usually at this time only three numbers. Everyone shared a ‘party line’. This meant there were several families sharing one phone line. Our ring was three rings. If the phone rang once, we left it alone, that was the Parkers, if it rang fast twice it was the O’neals, we left it alone, if it rang three times real fast, we would rush to see who was calling, screaming to the adults that the phone was ringing. Long distance calls were as rare as a death in the family or something equally important.
The next invention was the rotary phone with the hand set resting in the cradle. And wonder of wonder, you could opt for a private line. The phone numbers got longer and our phone in Ocean Springs in the 1950’s was TR5-5355. (TR was for Trinity) These later became 875-5355 and then much, much later, 601 then 228 was added. So, we went from the black rotary to the brightly collared rotary phones, to Princess style’s, to Princess push buttons and on until we finally got to the cordless phones and thought the world was a futuristic place.
Doctors had beepers and they would go off in movies or church if a doctor was on call. The number would appear on this little tiny screen on a little black box the size of a pack of camel cigarettes, and he’d run to find a pay phone to call his office or the hospital and away he’d go. (Notice, I said he, very few women doctors back then) This didn’t bother anyone as it meant, the doctor could be reached in an emergency, and that could be for you or your family needing a doctor also.
When I moved to Los Angeles in 1989, Production companies gave us beepers and we were expected to get off the busy freeways and find a pay phone. This could take up to thirty minutes and many times it was the office calling to see when you’d be in. “Well, thirty minutes later than awhile ago when you beeped me, that’s when.” My friend had a car phone. WOW, high cotton. It was the size of the old WWII field phones and rested between the seats on a custom built stand. The handset was huge and was connected to the big phone by a curly cord that only reached so far. The monster was as dangerous to dial as it is to text today, you had to drive and hold this heavy thing and dial from the front of it with one hand on the wheel. She’d take a call while we were driving and I’d sit in total awe. Then, whoop de doo, cell phones came in and the first one I had was a big oblong black thing, heavy as a small bar bell. Purses got bigger and heavier to accommodate this thing. Phone bills were under expensive contracts and you were charged by the minute whether you made the call or just answered a call. Production companies gave us an allotment to use our phones and then bombarded us with calls over silly things that could’ve waited until we got to the office. Phone bill time and they’d fight like tigers not to pay for all the calls they’d made on our minutes. A constant battle, which was solved by renting company cell phones that were twice as expensive as the phone bills we’d been turning in. Go figure.
Then came the big flip phone, smaller and lighter, but the antenna got caught in your hair and even up your nose. Now we’re down to phones the size of a small compact that you can fit in an evening purse. I have a small one with big numbers. I can barely call on the numbers let alone try to text someone a letter on the damned thing. So, my point here is, leave us seniors alone. We think these little phones that go in the bathroom with us are wonderful, no more running in from outside when we hear the stupid thing ringing, it’s in our pocket. No more falling trying to get out of the shower and get to the phone, it’s sitting on the back of the toilet. That weird call in the middle of the night, roll over and see who it is without even answering it. To us these little things are little miracles that make our lives free from running, worrying or missing calls.
I haven’t even mentioned, the old busy signals, live answering services with rude ladies taking your message begrudgingly, answering machines that made your voice sound like a robot, then when the batteries were going out or the tape was old made you sound like a drunk zombie. Of course you had to call someone every ten minutes to see if they got home all right, then finally the first call waiting, etc.
Nor have I mentioned the family phone and teenagers. Phone bills from my brother’s calling girl friends in a long distance area code, even if it was from Ocean Springs to Gulfport. Or not hearing from your boyfriend because his parents took his phone privileges away. So, under the circumstances, let’s talk next about the internet and face book. We used to call it, pen pals and you waited by the mailbox every week or so to get that letter from your friend. You know, when that meteor hits the earth and wipes out all electrical play things and electronics, my friends and I will be mildly inconvenienced. I still have paper and pencils. Oh well, progress is wonderful.