Wednesday, August 11, 2010

On The Phone

Well, wasn't everyone all worked up the other day when they glanced at the calendar and saw that the date was 8/9/10?  Haven't seen that much calendar-based excitement since 7/8/09!

But, I got to thinking about something else when I was watching a King of Queens rerun, one of 14 episodes in which Carrie refuses any more of Doug's amorous advances unless he starts doing something or stops doing something; I can't remember which.  I loved that show the most when Arthur, the wacky father of Carrie, would emerge from the basement where he had just had his four-hour nap, and get into one of his loony adventures.  I plan to be a lot like him someday.

On one of the outside scenes in the show, there was a sign for a store where they sold phone cards.  Remember all that?  Around 1990, suddenly everyone in this nation was consumed with an urge to call friends and kin in far-flung outposts, and so we turned to phone cards.  Phone cards were the size of credit cards, and had imprinted on them a simple 127-digit code number.  When you got the urge to call your buddy Pat McButoks in North Dakota, you went to a pay phone, picked up the handset that contained no fewer than 127 bacteria, flu germs and cold-causing contaminants, entered that code number, and then heard a beeping tone telling you that you had entered an invalid code.

You didn't get to make your call, but you did catch a case of whooping cough.

Pay phones?  Remember them?  Now you walk through hotel lobbies, mall food courts and detention center waiting areas and see nothing but phone jacks, still on the wall, but without anything plugged into them.  Go to court or some other gathering, and when someone comes out and reminds everyone to make sure their cells are on vibrate, every man, woman and child reaches for the Samsung and kills the noise.  Except for one dozing individual, who is shortly to become the center of barely-suppressed tittering when his phone rings and his ringtone is that "I Like Big Butts And I Will Not Lie" song.  But later, no one needs a pay phone except for that guy (the bailiff confiscated his) to call their friends and tell about what happened in court.   

Eva Savealot
And the 8/9/10 part reminded me of those deals where you called 1-800-10-10-10-10 or something and got long distance at really cheap rates.  What happened to all the people - Alyssa Milano among them - who worked for these companies?  Now that all cells have free long distance and you can call your friends Bill Loney or Ty Malone, what are we doing with the money we used to spend on long distance calls?

Because, I got to tell you, everyone is on the phone with someone all the time.  Grocery shopping, driving, walking along, those Blueteeth are biting into important conversations. Now, the woman in front of me in line at the Buy 'N' Pay the other day was apparently tired of the conversation she was having.

The only thing she kept saying was "Shut up!"  "Shut UP!"  "SHUT! UP!"  But still her friend went on talking.  I headed home for my four-hour nap.


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