Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Telephone- Social Glue

When I went to play at a friend's house as a little girl, I was astounded to see that they had only a single phone for each floor. If I needed to call home, I had to walk upstairs to the kitchen and phone home.

At home, we had phones in every room.


One of my long distance friends was under the misconception that because of this fact, we were rich. Which gave me a good laugh but I played it up and went along with the misconception until I had the telephone bill came. I had to write her to break the news and add that Padre was having me cough up paper route money to pay for it.

She pen-paled back: "I thought you guys didn't have to pay for long distance."

Either did I.

Or at least I thought Padre got some sort of huge discount.

I think that by putting all those phones in our rooms, that sort of mistake was bound to happen. I mean the ease at which conversations could now happen compared to what happened in the old days...

If padre wanted us to be aware of the cost of communication, he should've installed a pay phones

Handing over my route money after I'd wriggled it outta the hands of customers, was a dear lesson.

*The Post Register had a really efficient way of paying the paper carriers. After we collected the money from the customers and paid the newspaper, we could keep whatever was left over! By tearing out a little coupon we kept track of who paid and who didn't. Those coupons showed us who hadn't paid for a good 3 months. We could go ahead and call the Circulation Dept. Who was the same lady who called us when we were late with the paper, to complain that the customer was late making payments and were making our lives a livin' pain. This complianing went in cirles, hence the name: Circulation Desk.

Either way, they got their money and we still walked the streets late at night and caught customers who had dodged us, begged them to pay at least a month or so to make it easier to catch up and that's how we learned the system.

It was like Christmas when they finally paid and we kids had the illusion that delivering papers wasn't so bad if you could almost make a hundred bucks a month!)

Speaking of circulation; A good 'ol rotary in the garage in case you are out working in the garden and Padre needs to get ahold of ya. The grandkids think this is real fun to play with.

In The Telephone Book by H.M. Beottinger it reads: "..the clever assemblage of bits of wood and metal was a novel form of 'social glue'..." (Bell, Watson, Vail and American Life 1876- 1976. Riverwood Publishers Limited Croton-on-Hudson, New York. 1977.)

If they thought telephones were sticky after Bell and Watson had tinkered for weeks with vibrating wire coils, they'd be appaled at the cementing effect of wireless phones today.

Once I balked at the swiftness of my youngest sister typing 300 texts per minute.
Now, I am considering a gun holster for my phone and propose they make the cell phone in the shape of a gun for quicker draws. (I better get on patenting that idea like Alexander did with the telegraph if I don't want to go through litigation, etc.)

With all the phones in Padre's home, you'd think we'd be more connected.

Just as sleep will come over me the distinguished qu-shh, walkie talkie sound will break into a dream and Padre is able to tell me that the bath matt was left on the floor and really hit the point home with a long lecture.

But usually the phone plays talk radio and it isn't until we leave the house that we can talk-- and thank goodness we can text. So as to not have to actually pick up the phone and talk to eachother unless it is really desperate.

The other day I made the critical decision to stay home rather than team up with Padre on errands. It wasn't long until my gun went off. The jelling 'doot' sound of connectedness that only a text can bring.

I knew it was him. hesitating, I clicked the button that opened my virtual envelope.

"what kind of lotion did you want, again."

I opened my cell phone and pecked out: "Vaseline brand." Going to great lengths to describe the bottle, color, shape and ounces.

Shut the chintzy phone and went back to 'work'.

The phone agitated as a call came through.

Interrupting the laid back jingle, I pushed the send button.

"Yes, sir?"

"Now, you want Vaseline? Like in a tub? We have that at home, ya know."

"Yes, I know. I need the lotion. The pump bottle made by the same company."

Padre talked with me and described everything on the shelf. I could picture him, with his ear piece on, the people around him wondering if he was talking to them or to himself -It happens around here all the time.

After locating the lotion I needed he began to describe other lotions on the shelf. Suffering from even drier hands than mine, he started to read the descriptions of various lotions.

"awwwww, Dad, you're killing me." I moaned while typing.

Chuckling he let me get off the phone with him.

A twinge of guilt did wash over me as I recalled the deep canyons in his fingers that never healed, especially when he was working on telephone lines from a cherry picker in the snow.

Using his Neutrogena lotion on the tips of my fingers where the winter is bringing skin splitting conditions and lowering his office chair made me regret not letting him rattle on while he did the shopping.

One day, Care, commented on how close I was with my Dad. I felt bad for her not bein' able to text her Dad, so I said: "He's a 'phone guy'.

The whole phenomenom of technology bringing the world closer together was displayed by the next generation when the grandkids were all over to the house.

"It's quiet down there." I said to my brother, The Torment.

Legs casually crossed he stops talking, presses his laced fingers to his lips and both of us listened for movement.

"Yeah, we better go check." he said referring to the critters downs stairs.

Softly scooting my chair back, I headed toward the stairs in my socks. Stealth-like I slip down the steps until I am closer to the murmur of children's voices coming from the family room.

Harmless chatter. From the third step I peered around the wall and saw two of Padres grandkids on the floor. My niece has one of Padre's old phones to her ear, the cord coiled around a finger and a couple feet away J is another touch-tone phone.

I listen a while as they have a real conversation. It is so real it doesn't seem like pretend!

"What did you do today?" my son asks his cousin.

In a grown up voice and with remarkable ettiquette she replied. I listened for a few more mintues smiling to myself that they could have had that same nice conversation with each other, but the phone somehow helped.

Finally, I startled them with:

"What ya guys doin'?? "

"Oh, we're playin' phone." J informed me and jabbed the buttons with a forefinger to call his cousin back.

Satisfied they weren't tearing up the basement, I bounded back up the stairs two at a time and reported to my brother that all was well and we continued our conversation at the dinner table with the rest of the fam.

This cookie jar resembled the Mountain Bell logo and for years I thought it was from the company for working for them. It took some history classes and reading the inscription, to see what bell it represented.

However, the history of communication has enthralled me since a young age!

A trip to the library prompted me to get books about Helen Keller to have Jaden read I will show him the book Padre has about Alexander Graham Bell; that he was enfluenced by the deaf, that he and his Scottish father's fine tuned ears made them elocution experts and I'll spin that story like a crude coil and teach him how lucky we are to adhere ourselves to the world around us.

Then we'll watch My Fair Lady.

He wl h8 me. LOL

I wonder if Helen would have a good laugh today if Annie signed a description of us glued to our cell phones, mute, pecking out our messages with our hands as well trying desparetly to communicate with eachother!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Blog Archive