Wednesday, September 29, 2010

the miracle of modern telecommunication

I just got off the phone with my friend, Joany. So what, you say? You can chat with your chums on your iPhone® any time you want, you say? That's true, but Joany is on a train on her way to Rome right now. And that's a first for me, for sure. It amazes me, you know? My voice in an Italian train car, speeding towards Rome. (Insert joke here about the trains always running on time, or about where all roads lead.)

My grandparents owned the first telephone in their neighborhood, probably because my grandfather was a landscape gardener and needed to have a phone so that his customers could contact him. My mother told me that she remembered neighbors coming over to use the phone for emergency calls. My mother and several of her sisters had jobs as operators at the local telephone company, which makes me wonder, when was the last time I talked to an operator? When was the last time I dialed (pressed) 0 for operator? I don't even remember.

The first phone I remember using is the heavy black desktop phone that the the local telephone company loaned us. It always sat on the bay window behind the couch. For a long time, we only had that one phone, so there were no private conversations in our house. When my dad started traveling more, we got an extension upstairs in my parents' bedroom for security. That was a great place to take private phone calls. I can remember snuggling into my parents' bed on cold winter evenings while I gossiped with Judy, or took the rare call from a boy I was dating. And I could always tell if someone picked up the extension.

I still don't have my Star Trek communicator, but if I flip my cell phone vigorously, I can make it spring open like James T. Kirk used to do. And I can talk to Joany as she speeds towards the Eternal City. Some days, it feels alot like the 21st century.


Ben said...

That's very "space age" when you think about it. When we were growing up, talking from the USA to someone on a train in Italy was reserved for Bond. James Bond.

Back in the day we had the standard phone on the kitchen wall. That was the only phone my parents houses ever had. Privacy score = 0. We even had a "party line" for many years. Sometimes you would pick up the phone to dial a number, and two people were already talking. If we were feeling polite we would apologize, quickly hang up, and try again later.

I still think it would be fun if my phone lid was spring-loaded and went "weetweetweet" when I flipped it up. Cells with flip tops are feeling a little quaint these days.

Liz said...

Yes, space age is right. I'm impressed.

I remember that phone on the wall, Ben. I was never Gidget, laying on my bed talking to a friend.

Ben said...

Yes and then as soon as we would hang up we would get a bunch of questions about the call from others in the room. It's no wonder I'm not a big phone person.