“Give Me a Dingle” - theHumm June 2019
“Give Me a Dingle” - theHumm June 2019
By Glenda Jones
1117-Y, 1202-L. Those were my telephone numbers when I was six and twelve. I’ve forgotten what I had for dinner yesterday but can remember those numbers! We used to say we were as old as dirt, but now we say we’re as old as a party line, or as old as a telephone with a crank handle and an operator who said “number pu-lees-ah”. And yes, I’m that old. Dirt has nothing on me!
We’re still hold-outs with a landline that I’m not about to relinquish, no matter the cost. You can find us in the phone book, although you might be hard pressed to find a phone book. We thought it was peculiar when we moved to West Carleton, within the City of Ottawa, that we had an Almonte phone number, but we were proud of that since although we may reside in Ottawa, we live in Almonte. And there we are in the Almonte phone book too. Every year the phone book becomes thinner and thinner, but it still has a place of honour in — what else — the phone book drawer!
We make good use of our landline, with jacks in nearly every room, and four phones handy where we can find them. I never have to wonder where I left the darn thing because there it is, right on the desk beside the phone book. We have several models of phone too: a clunky looking grey one with the answering machine mechanism, an old-fashioned beige cordless that doesn’t work if you’re more than 15 feet from its base, a dark green sleek plug-in model, and an ancient pink one coated in mosaic glue in the basement. I like to get salesmen on that one because the static makes it sound like we’re in Siberia.
Our phone doesn’t ring very often anymore, except for the fellow who wants to rewire our computer or sell us printer ink. He doesn’t know my cell phone number, so never calls that. Why would he? That phone lives in my purse, usually turned off. I don’t keep him on the line long, since I know he needs to make about a thousand calls, all computer-generated. The robo-calls around election time set the phone jangling too. Here’s my theory: these companies use the landlines because they know there will be “older than dirt” people on the other end, who are sitting by their phones waiting for someone to call them, someone who just might fall for their pitches.
When I need a local service, I turn first to the phone book Yellow Pages. Sadly, they often demand I search a website, or leave a voicemail. I haven’t had much success getting Mr. Google to come and repair the plumbing. However, if I call the local plumber, he’s right at the other end of my phone line and he will come within a couple of hours. I realize I’m likely going the way of the dodo bird, but trying to noodle about on Google to find a particular thing is frustrating and often non-productive when the list is right there in the phone book. Further, I can annotate the ads in the phone book, compare prices, write them down where they are easy to find, and have the reference ready when I need to make that call again.
There is a problem arising though. The Yellow Pages is an advertising cost, and in this day of cyber-everything businesses are taking to the clouds and plunging their money into every conceivable medium they can. Many have abandoned the Yellow Pages, forcing me to spend fruitless hours negotiating websites. Further complications arise when Facebook gets its tentacles into the mix. Not being on Facebook, I might be missing a great deal — or not.
The phone book serves us in so many other ways. It’s become the habit now to introduce ourselves with first names only, and unless people want you to contact them, you have no way to find them again. When both names were used in an introduction, we could easily go to the phone book and find an address or a phone number and call a person on their landline. Now new acquaintances drift through our lives as Jim or Jennifer, and only if we meet that person again do we make connections. Then we have to whip out our cell phones and programme in numbers and pray we don’t make a mistake. Cell phones have taken over for most people, with exclusion from the phone book a certainty, and email addresses impossible to access. We have to rely on others in the hope our message will get to the intended recipient. It’s wonderful to pick up a call and find a friend on the other end of the line.
Last week I was thrilled to hear from my cousin with whom I hadn’t spoken in ten years. He’d found a card with our phone number on it, and lo and behold we still have that number! We talked for nearly a half-hour, and promised we’d do that again. I love to call my sister and just gab. We both like to hear that phone ring. I can see her sitting by her phone table, the same as I am.
So if you want to find us, we’re still there in the old phone book: the Jones on Carroll Side Road. And we will be for as long as they publish the phone book. We won’t leave until Ma Bell decides to publish a compendium of cell phone numbers. It’ll only be accessible online though, like everything else these days.
That’s it from the old woman who’s “as old as a party line” — and proud of it!
Union Hall Fundraising Concert with The Life of Pearls to Celebrate the Summer Solstice - theHumm June 2019
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Doug Fleming: A Tribute - theHumm June 2019
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Sep 24 - 30 Eric Uren on the Patio
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Sep 30 Jeff Callery
Oct 1 - 15 Eric Uren on the Patio
Oct 1 Perth Night Market
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