"Middle age is when you're sitting at home on a Saturday night and the telephone rings and you hope it isn't for you."
-- Age, Hope, Home
Just when I think I'm getting the hang of using my cellular phone, some company comes up with a newer version to disrupt an already complex piece of electronic equipment.
Call me "yesterday's leftover." I still prefer to do a lot of things the old-fashioned way.
I, for one, have no desire to wrack my brain trying to keep up with all the changes, and refuse to trade my phone in for a newer model ... at least not until I tire of my outdated one which works just fine, thank you!
With more people using cellular phones these days, I worry because they walk around with their phones glued to their ears chattering away as if no one else was present. Reminds me of my days as a caseworker in San Francisco's Tenderloin district when I'd see vagrants and inebriates roaming the street often talking gibberish to no one in particular.
During my youth, we had one phone that served our family. Ours hung on the wall in the kitchen. I rarely used it and that was OK with me.
All phone numbers back then were preceded by fashionable names like TEmplebar, LAndscape, and HIgate followed by four numbers. To make a call, we dialed the first two letters of the word and then the numbers. I don't know what purpose using words served, but thought it gave phone numbers a nice ring!
Why is our government making such a big fuss over eavesdropping? After all, it wasn't too long ago that home phones were connected to party lines.
In case you never heard that term, it had nothing to do with politics, and didn't mean linking up with some social organization. "Party" meant several families sharing the same telephone wire.
Hence, it wasn't uncommon to pick up the phone and hear someone talking. You could remain on the line and listen in, break in on their conversation, or simply hang up and wait until the line cleared.
I thought we had it bad until I was told by a friend who lived in Winton that he had to turn a crank on his phone to access a switchboard operator who connected him to his party. I wondered how folks who couldn't turn the crank managed.
If there is anything I miss about the old phone system, it's hearing the voice of a live operator on the other end of the line. When you needed a phone number, you simply called the operator who looked it up for you.
The only time I got a recording was when I dialed POPCORN to find out the time of day. If you remember that, you belong to my generation!
We can point fingers at the cellular phone for the demise of the phone booths that were once as common as seashells on a seashore. Wasn't it a group of Saint Mary's College students who set a record for cramming the most bodies into the booth that made national news?
And what about Clark Kent? He's one comic book hero that likely won't be reactivated since he will no longer be able to find a phone booth to change into his Superman costume.
And finally, not having access to a pay phone may have been excusable at one time, but is rarely acceptable today with most everyone owning a cellular phone. That is, unless you can convince that person your battery went dead or you simply forgot to turn it on.
No matter to me. I never carry my cellular, and I let my wife answer the phone when we're at home. After all, I'm one of those guys who prefers talking face to face with people rather than speaking into an inanimate device.
Eizo Kobayashi is a Concord resident and a member of the Concord Senior Citizens Club. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.