A grandmother is a mother who has a second chance

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

One ringy dingy

One of the side advantages to cordless headsets for cell phones is that people who talk to themselves are no longer so easily identifiable. Now, we ALL look like we are talking to ourselves! This morning at work a woman got out of her car, immediately started laughing and saying “Oh, no, you’ve got to be kidding!” very loudly. A few years ago I might have made a wide circle to keep my distance, today I just thought “bluetooth.” And, if she wasn’t talking on a phone and truly was crazy, just think about how much easier her life must be now that nobody really knows for sure.

Which, of course, got me thinking about how phones have changed over the course of my life. I so clearly remember the days when you had to dial (that involved putting your finger in a hole that aligned with the appropriate number and literally moving the dial in a clockwise direction until it came to a stop….) “0” for the Operator to call long distance.

“Hello, Operator, I want to call Chicago – number Axtel 8-2400.” All our phone numbers began with the name of the exchange.

If you were really cool, and could afford it, you called “person-to-person” in case some schmuck you didn’t want to talk to answered the phone. The signal wasn’t the greatest – sounded a bit like a scratchy record (that’s those round black things with a hole in the middle that you put on a special flat surface with a spindle and a needle ran across them making music…). When phone lines became clearer, I would hear my parents say the following with practically EVERY call.

“Wow, your voice sounds so clear it’s like you were in the next room!” Always said with great awe.

Our family also had our special code that we used for notification that we had gotten home safely from a vacation. This involved calling the people we had been visiting - "person to person" - and asking for ourselves. Diabolically clever. The operator would say in her best Ernestine voice, "I have a person to person call for Tony." Then my dad would say, "Thank you" to the operator thus allowing the person on the other end to hear his voice and know that we were back home safely. I'm quite sure AT&T was never on to us (!!).

Then phone numbers became numeric, dials were replaced by push buttons, and we were allowed to place our own long distance calls. Still couldn’t own a phone, though. Only AT&T could own them, the users just leased them. It was quite the event when we were finally able to actually BUY a phone! What will they think of next?!?!?

My great-grandmother was often confused by the phone and the ringing. Especially when she was distracted by her soap operas. One day she was eating a piece of bread with peanut butter on it and the phone rang. Apparently something exciting was happening on the tube because she slapped the bread – peanut butter side up – to her head instead of the receiver. Messy and very ineffective. Those time when she did answer the phone correctly, but didn’t want to be bothered, her “Hello” would morph into “What da hella you want?!?”

My maternal grandmother was a switchboard operator so we all got lessons in how to properly answer a phone. Apparently "hullo" or "yeah" wasn't acceptable. My mother had a beautiful phone voice and a sultry way of saying Hello. It was pretty funny when she was yelling at us about something and really getting into it, then the phone would ring. She'd finish her yelling, pick up the phone, put a smile on her face, and answer sweetly. Man, she could change vocal direction in a heartbeat. Cracked us up. She would always smile when she answered the phone because she was convinced the person on the other end could hear the smile.

My first cell phone was on sale for $99 through AAA. It was the size jumbo Hershey Bar with Almonds, weighed about 10 pounds and had this long extension antenna you had to pull up. I'm guessing we'll soon have phones so small they just get implanted into your ear canal. When it rings, you blink the right eye to answer, and the left eye to hang up. Won't even need a bluetooth. We'll all just walk around blinking and talking to ourselves.


Halfmexican Mama said...

reminds me of the time I had a conversation with a lady in McDonalds bathroom, she was in the next stall and kept talking away and like a dummy I kept ansewring all her questions, when we both emerged from the stalls she was still talkin. On a bluetooth...

Sandi said...

HMM - Now THAT's funny!!

Jenni said...

I love my bluetooth. Now when I sing in the car, I'm not embarrassed about being caught by other drivers. I just assume that they think I'm talking on my bluetooth!

Desert Diva said...

I've finally been able to think "bluetooth" when I see someone that seems to be talking to themselves.

However, now how am I going to distinguish the bluetooth talkers from the crazies on the street that are really talking to themselves? ;-)