Sunday, July 26, 2009

Hello? Is Your Refrigerator Running? Well, You'd Better Go Catch It!

The way I choose post topics is probably a little unusual. Sometimes, something important happens and I write about it because I consider it my duty to keep everyone updated on the current events of my life. Sometimes, I happen across an interesting picture and save it for a future post. Other times, I have the topic brewing around in my head and I search and search the Internet for an appropriate picture. Finding a post topic isn't as easy as you'd think. Many people I work with and parents of students I teach read my blog. Some post a response, some don't. As interesting as I think I am, not everyone agrees. So I try not to write specifically about work so I don't offend anyone. Also, I have to live up to the title of the blog..."Tassie and Her Random Thoughts." Not as easy as it looks.

So that brings us to today's post. I felt the need to post because school is starting soon and when it does, I find I have less and less time to write. Also, my friends' blogs are updated on my page when I update, so it's much easier for me to see who has something new to say. I gotta tell ya...I never thought that reading mundane details of people's daily lives (of course I'm not talking about any of MY friends...) would be interesting, but it is. I could spend hours reading blogs. But I digress....

A while back, I remember having a conversation with my eight-year-old daughter about phones. I was trying to explain a rotary phone to her. In her lifetime, I've always had a cell phone. She doesn't question how the phone works everywhere and doesn't need a cord. I started to tell her about the kind of phones we had when I was her age...she had no idea what I was talking about. (Side note: You know it's bad when you find yourself saying, "When I was your age....." and as I reminisce I might be making myself seem older than I really am, but I'd just like to think that I have an incredible memory. How else could I know all this? It must have come from my infancy and I can still recall it!)

When I was growing up, we had one main phone in our house. The kitchen was at the front part of the house and hanging on the wall next to the side kitchen door (that led outside) was an avocado-colored rotary phone. The cord on this thing was about 14 or 15 feet. When you stretched the phone cord out it could really take you places. This was the early version of a cordless phone. You could take it many places while you were doing stuff in the kitchen. It was good for me, since I could take the phone outside and sit on the side porch and talk in private. I didn't talk on the phone much, but when I did, I felt that whatever I was saying required privacy. I was probably saying something like, "I don't know. What do you want to talk about?"

Later, we got another phone outlet in our living room. The memories of this phone are much blurrier, since I think we had various types of phones there from wall units, to desk units, to finally a cordless unit. Even after we got this phone, I still preferred to talk on the ugly green kitchen phone. The living room phone was reserved for the times I tried to listen in on my brother's phone conversations. I wasn't very successful...people could always hear when you picked up the phone!

When I was really young, I can remember talking on the phone to someone (my own age) and not knowing what to talk about, so we did the whole, "What do you think this is?" and then you bang stuff against the phone and the other person tries to guess what the item is. Another early memory was that in first grade, our teacher, Mrs. Key, had two real telephones installed in our classroom. She gave us formal lessons on how to answer the phone and take messages and the proper phone etiquette. You could actually dial the other phone and then ask the kid who answered it to get someone else in the room that you wanted to talk to. I think we also went on a field trip to the phone company and got to talk to an operator wearing a headset. The phone company was really close to our school and we walked there. Funny, I don't have many specific memories from my childhood, but I do remember that. Fun times.

This was also before call waiting and caller ID. There were a few times that my parents left me alone and I amused myself with making prank phone calls. You really can't do that these days. Most people have caller ID and if you don't, all you have to do is press *69 and you can find out the number of the person that just called you. When these things came onto the scene, it put a real hamper on prank phone calls. I mean, what else could be more fun than calling people to say, "Is your refrigerator running? If it is, you'd better go catch it!" (I heard stories about people that ordered pizza and had it delivered across the street so they could watch...I never did that...I was too chicken.) Nowadays, when someone calls you on your cell phone and you don't know who it is, you let the call roll over and then you call them back to ask why they called you. And house phones? Forget it....most people, except for me, are moving away from having a house phone since they have wireless still have stupid dial-up so I'll be anchored to this land line forever.

Even earlier than call waiting and caller ID is the concept of party phone lines. Every holiday, my family would stay at my grandmother's house outside of Starkville, here in Mississippi, and being that she lived way out in the country, she shared a phone line with three other houses. I can remember lifting up the handset to eavesdrop on the girl who lived next door. She was a teenager, and spent most of her time talking on the phone. She'd get pretty irritated and would ask me to hang up. Another interesting fact about my grandmother's phone was that since she was hard of hearing, she had a volume control set up on her phone so she could hear the other person. When she talked on the phone you could literally hear both sides of the conversation from across the room. You could identify the person she was talking to. She must have thought I could read minds when she'd start to tell me about the conversation and I could repeat everything that was said. And the ringer? It was so loud, you could hear it ringing while you were way out in the fields...

And pay phones....who doesn't have a story about one of those? I could remember knowing where all the working phones were. Several times, I would leave the house (both at home and at college) to go and use a pay phone so I wouldn't have to fight for the phone. It's really hard to find a pay phone now and if you did, it probably wouldn't work. I wonder if they made a current day Superman movie, where he'd change into his outfit...hmmm....makes you wonder.

Now we're in the age of cell phones. When you meet someone that doesn't have a cell phone, you totally can't believe it. It's nice to be able to get ahold of people all the time now. We definitely communicate more. There are some definite advantages to being so accessible, but also some downfalls. Between cell phones, text messages, and Instant Messages, we don't even have to see people face to face to communicate anymore. But still, all in all, I think it's a good thing. Most people love their phone and have it on them all the time. I know some people that use their phones as an alarm clock, watch, calculator, calendar, GPS, Internet connection, camera, recording device, gaming.....the list goes on and on. The old days of dialing on a rotary phone are over.

But I tell you....If I had a phone with a cord in my current kitchen (mine is cordless), I'd take it outside with me to my porch and I'd call you so we could talk about the old days....of how we lived before cable, satellite TV, and movies on tape. And if I'd get bored, I'd pick up a rock and rub it across the mouthpiece of my phone and ask you, "What do you think this is?" Just thinking about it makes me want to call someone....and thanks to Mrs. Key, I have impeccable phone manners. If you don't believe me, give me your phone number and I'll call you to prove it.


Carrie said...

this was a good post tass! :) we never had a rotary phone but I do remember when we got our first cordless was a very exciting day! haha...and I really dont know how I ever lived without a cell phone - I didnt have one until the end of my senior year of high school...I dont know how I managed to make it through high school without it...i guess I just didnt know what I was missing...

Birdie Mae said...

Many chuckles elicited by today's post, Ms Tassie...what would a spend-the-night party have been without the fun of prank-calling people? Not much. We had the phone-on-the-kitchen-wall, too but ours was flat black and up until I was in junior high, when you picked it up, a sweet voice asked, "Number please?" Thanks for bringing back some fun memories; must go let Prince Albert out of the can.