Rotary Terrors

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 on. 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.

About Rutabaga the Mercenary Researcher

I'm a research librarian for Public Television, story teller, bike commuter, baker, music fiend, lover of reading & books, mother, wife, friend - and many more descriptive adjectives and nouns.
This entry was posted in Aversions, Humor, Philosophy, Random Thoughts, Writing and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

29 Responses to Rotary Terrors

  1. There is one major plus to the old rotary phones. You could use them as an offensive weapon, unlike more modern models. But I think that’s the only plus.

  2. Maggie O'C says:

    As everyone is moving toward cell only, I got my land line back and wish I could get rid of my cell phone, which is just a cell phone. No smart phone for me. My family flips when I don’t bring my phone with me wherever I go….I grew up with no cell phone and lived to tell about it. Sheesh.
    Great post D!

  3. lolabees says:

    You should look up some of the images in your dream on I always do that with really vivid or recurring dreams. It’s pretty interesting.

    I don’t have a landline anymore, but I always loved having an answering machine. There’s something fun about walking in the door and seeing if you have a message. 😉

  4. stephrogers says:

    wow, creepy phone dream, I wonder what it really means?

  5. calahan says:

    We have two rotary phones, but since we no longer have a landline connected to our home, they are decorative only. I will sometimes dial it just to hear the rotary work.

  6. leesa jackson says:

    ooooooo!! phone dreams!! my favorite kind of anxiety dream! for me, the numbers would always keep moving around so i couldn’t dial the (rotary) phone. then one happy day, the dream changed, and instead of a rotary phone, i was now trying to use a smart phone (which i do not have and do not know how to use even in waking life) and every time i would try to push buttons or slide my fingers on it i would get connected to some crazy website that i couldn’t get out of, all the while desperately aware that something horrible was going to happen if i didn’t get connected to the person i was trying to reach. what a great improvement! who knew technology advanced even in the dreamstate?

  7. You must have been overwhelmed coming over to my house then with a phone in every room! I hate talking on the phone too. We haven’t had a land line in years but I feel naked without my smart phone because it keeps me connected to my email. I don’t think my kids have ever seen a “real” phone. 🙂

  8. Carrie Rubin says:

    I always have my cell phone with me, but ironically, the thing I use it least for is a phone. I rarely talk on the thing. It’s all the other functions I use. And text messaging? One of the best inventions ever, in my opinion. 🙂

    Have a great holiday!

  9. rossmurray1 says:

    Still ain’t got no phone, bro!
    (Sorry about that. The sad thing is, I know it’s inevitable. It’s like the Borg.)

  10. Paul says:

    There is no doubt that communication devices multiple wildly. I remember when i was a transport manager for a 24/7 trucking company while I was doing universitty degree, it grew totally out of control. At its worst, I had a personal cell phone, a business cell, a business press and talk (we could talk direct to drivers without dialing), a work pager, a desk phone at work, 2 home phone lines, a home e-mail, 2 work e-mails (two systems – internal and externa), a unversity laptop with e-mail, a work laptop, a work desktop, a home desktop and a personal laptop. It took me – without exaggeration – up to 3 hours just to check messages and then they had tp be returned. My wife said that on weekends when we went out, that I should have a bandolier across my chest to hold all the hardware. My concern was that i’d be out fishing one day and get hit by lightning – with all those conductors strapped to my chest and attracting lighting, there’d be nothing left but a small smouldering pile of ash. They’d be able to put on my gravestone – “The last person he talked to was God.”

    With 2 teen children with their own cells (which they ended up paying from their allowance), a wife with a cell, 2 home phone lines, home internet and cable – our monthly home communication bill was higher than our mortgage (mind you the mortgage was only $400 permonth – biut even so….)

    At one point, I changed jobs and was adamant that I carried no comm gear. I unplugged and it felt great!

    Fun post Rutabaga. Thanks!

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