It starts the same way every time…the dial-face looking at me. Me looking back. Even before my finger finds the “9” hole in the dial, I know I will not be able to manage this kind of phone. It’s a rotary phone. My finger starts its upward escalation and for a reason I never understand I cannot complete the motion all the way around…The danger is becoming more menacing and I’m in a full on panic, desperately trying to dial 911. Sometimes I get the ‘9’ completed but the ‘1’, which should be the easiest to dial, eludes me utterly. As the danger increases my abilities to dial decreases until I abruptly wake up. All day long I have a vague sense of unease. And then it passes.
I’ve had this dream ever since I could remember and I’m pretty sure it’s the reason I have a deep seated dislike for phones and phone-related technology. Even beyond the obvious reasons that most people complain about them in our phone-obsessed society. I hate phones for those reasons too – no worries. But it goes farther than that.
What prompted this phone post was a recent event at our house. My kid’s friend (age 10) spent the night and the next morning was calling his mom. I handed him our phone – the kind that has a (tangled) cord and mounts to the wall. He dialed than stared at the handset in confusion and said he didn’t know how to use our phone. Hee hee…I suspect he was looking for some kind of ‘send’ button. Ironically, I’m usually the one staring hopelessly at any number of phone-based technologies and asking “how do you use this thing?” – From the simple cordless phone, to the dreaded work-phone-systems all the way to smart phones. I still have an actual machine that answers the phone. I like it that way. I use manual caller ID: they call…they listen to the message…and they identify themselves. Then I decide if I’m going to answer or not (most likely “or not”). I refuse to have a phone message service. Having to call to retrieve my messages defeats the whole purpose of having an answering machine; which is to not have to use the phone.
I like the wall phones with a cord and a number pad. And message machines. So I basically stopped at that point along the phone-evolutionary chain. I jumped for joy when rotary phones went out of fashion. But pagers were a horrifying fad or gateway drug to cellphones, as I like think of them. I’ve never even used a pager because even then (I was in my late teens/early 20s) I knew it was a bad decision to make yourself readily available at all times. I have a cell phone – but it’s a relic. Don’t get me wrong, I think cell phones are great for emergency situations – but beyond that….the thought of having a phone constantly on me and ringing all the time puts me off. I advise most people to not call me on my cell (if they happen to have the number, which I cannot remember so I have it taped to the back of the phone). If they leave a message, it might be days before I turn my phone one. And a few more before I realized I have a message. I have to admit I get annoyed at having phone messages that I have to retrieve – which is irrational, I know. My favorite is when people ask me how come I never answered their text messages…that they’ve unknowingly sent to my landline. Also, the general assumption that have caller ID on that phone is kind of irritating but their loss, if they call and leave no number….meh… one less call to make.
One of my friends used to keep their rotary (ahhhh!) phone in their freezer – so I’m not the only weird one.
I will end this short and pointless rant with some DJ Dave. We agree about phone-related technology.