Been There, Done That by Laura Nethken

Published:

My oldest son wanted me to get a Smartphone with my latest upgrade. I'd rather wait and learn something new next time. This time, I'm sticking with the familiar.

This old dog has pretty much seen it all in the phone world of the past, I'm not in that big a rush to see it all in the future.

My great-grandmother had a party line phone. For those of you under 50, that meant that if you picked up the receiver and heard people talking, you had to wait until they got done to make your call.

I grew up with rotary dial phones. Thankfully, we didn't have to dial the area code first back then. If you messed up and had to start over, it could've taken you all day to make a call.

Not only did we not have to dial the area code, if you were dialing from Ravenna to Ravenna, you only had to dial the 6 or the 7 (of the 296 or 297 prefix) and then the rest of the numbers to get it to go through.

Next came push button phones, which were a much better plan for dialing, and cordless phones. Cordless phones were awesome especially when I was a new mom. No chancing leaving a kid in the tub to run to answer the phone. Since those early days, I've learned to just let the phone ring. If it's important, they'll call back.

And we had an answering machine back then. A wonderful invention, unless you had a crazy grandma like mine who screamed in her most frantic voice, "Pick up the phone! Pick up the phone!" on the tape.

I wasn't home. It's not like I was standing beside it debating on whether or not to answer. Although, answering machines were a good way to screen calls before everyone had Caller ID.

When I broke the screen on my cell phone, I tried to make a call without being able to see exactly what I was dialing. I was lucky I knew the number. My cell phone knows all the numbers, I don't have to anymore.

Anyway, I got some woman's voicemail and hung up. Two days later, she called me back a little freaked out to ask if she knew me because my number showed up in her list of recent calls.

Nope. I was just kind of blind-dialing with a broken phone and got her by mistake.

I got a call at work from a young man who said, "Mom?" when I answered. I said, "No."

He said again, "Mom?" No. I'd know my own son's soft Southern accent and this wasn't it. Besides, I didn't recognize the number on the Caller ID.

So the young man tried a different tactic, "Laura?" I said, "Yes," which thoroughly confused him. Then I transferred his call to the other Laura in the building.

I got a call about 10:30 one night, which is way past our bedtime. Cinderella had it way going on to still be out and about at midnight. We turn into pumpkins somewhere around 9 p.m.

Anyway, I said "Hello?" and she said in a very unfriendly voice, "Who dis?" I said, "You called me, so who is this?" She got really mad then and said, "You're answering his phone, so who dis?" I told her I was answering my phone and she said, "Ooh, my bad," and hung up.

One night, I was in one of my "put-upon" moods and tried to call my friend whose husband also had some health issues. And of course, I mis-dialed. The woman who answered immediately demanded to know if I was sleeping with her boyfriend.

What? Of course not. I was trying to call my friend because I was feeling sorry for myself with all our family has been through with Dave's brain aneurysm and stroke and painfully slow recovery.

She said, "Really? What kind of an aneurysm? I'm a nurse." We talked for 20 minutes and ended the call with her putting us on her prayer list. Go figure.

Maybe I do need a smarter phone. One that helps me cut down on my mis-dials, so I can steer clear of all these paranoid people.

Copyright 2014 Laura Nethken

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