Thursday, March 24, 2011

Phone calls

Remember when you used to like getting phone calls?

When I was a kid, phones were pretty big deals. There were only a couple of phones in the house. In fact, we used to be on a party line. The phone would ring and we'd rush to answer it ... if it was for us (one long ring was ours, 2 short rings was the house next door). We wouldn't make it, because one of the parents would yell for us to leave the phone alone.

Phones were a big deal.

Later, after we got a private line, phones were still a big deal. But, after a while, we realized that when we did answer the phone, it wasn't for us. It was somebody wanting to speak to a grown-up. We'd give the phone to one of our parents anyway.

The phone lost all its mystique, and when it rang, instead of us running to try to get to the phone before a parent told us not to, we'd ignore it and continue watching Bewitched or Batman or Gilligan or whatever was on TV. Until one of the adults said to go answer the phone. We would, and it would be for one of the adults. And we'd miss something funny that Darren or Uncle Arthur said.

In high school, it started being common for one of the teens to get phone calls. There'd be the occasional upset over someone else getting calls, or being on the phone so we couldn't get or place a call. But, unless we wanted to make a call or were expecting a call, the phone was no big deal.

After moving out on my own, I got my own phone. That's when the phone became a pain. Sure, all the calls were for me. But the phone bill was for me, too.

And things pretty much stayed that way for a while.

Then came cell phones.

My first one was a bag phone. It didn't have a battery, but plugged into the cigarette lighter in the car. About a dozen years ago, I finally gave it up for a standard cell phone that I could carry around with me.

However, phone calls weren't all that exciting. You see, the calls weren't all for me. Many were for whoever used to have the number before I had it. But, after having the number for a while, those stopped. For a while now, most of the calls have been for me.

However, along with all these changes in phone and attitudes, one other thing changed. My age. I got older. And so did everyone else.

Now, when the phone rings, I look at the clock. If it's late, it's probably bad news.

This week, that happened. It was after dark, and my sister was calling to let me know about a cousin (my first cousin's son) who was killed in a wreck.

And that's how it is with phone calls now. It's rarely good news. If it's someone I know calling, it's likely that someone else I know has died. If it's someone I don't know, it's someone who wants to sell me something. It's never the kids calling. The old Jewish ladies on TV are correct: the kids never call.

I miss the days when I looked forward to phone calls.


  1. Dang! Forgot this is my first iPhone comment, had to go through extra work. Hope I don't double post. Me too Basil. You forgot caller ID. now I can decide if I want to take it or not, except if it's at church. I have to take those and be nice. Wouldn't do for the pastor to get snarky. I could use some good news on the other end of the line occasionally too.

  2. Oh, my. You are correct. How could I leave out a mention of Caller ID?

    Caller ID lets me know who it is I don't want to talk to before I talk to them anyway.

  3. Caller ID lets me pick up the phone and immediately hang up on telemarketers.

  4. Yeah, I know what you mean. I got so sick of telephone calls that I finally dropped my land line, and just gave our cell #s to about a dozen close friends/family members.

    Life is MUCH better. Anybody that really gives a damn, or REALLY needs to talk to me can bother somebody else to get our numbers.

    Or, just Gmail us. Which, honestly, is preferable.

  5. So far, I've not given my cell phone # to anyone. That way, I know ALL the calls I get on it are calls I don't need to take.

    If someone I know wants to call me, they can use a number I've given them (one or more of three others). Telemarketers? Love 'em. I like to string 'em along long enough to get all the info I need to turn 'em in to our State's Attorney General. I just love costing THEM time and money.


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