Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Stories of a Rotary Phone

Today my 13-year-old was hanging out with me in my office. He is counting down the last few days of summer and boredom had set in. Absent-minded, he sat playing with an old rotary phone that I saved from the junk pile years ago. All of a sudden, his eyes lit up and he excitedly proclaimed, "I know how to use this phone."

Oh boy, did I feel old!

He tried to dial (in the real sense of the word) my cell number, which of course didn't work because the phone hasn't been hooked up since the early 80's. I don't even know if the phone works, but my son thought it would be cool to get it back in service. Yeah, until he was dialing the third 9 in a ten-digit number. Don't even think about misdialing... if you do, your only option is to start over.

This simple event got me thinking about how much has changed in the years since I've had kids. What will my grand kids world look like?
  • How about power windows and doors in our automobiles? I remember the day when I used to lean across the front seat to crank the passenger window for cross ventilation. Now I don't even need a key to get into my car. Still waiting for the day that the car drives itself!
  • Way before sleek, geek mobile phones that do everything except cook dinner, we had 'wireless' phones. Do you remember the brick (with an antennae sticking from it) that you got to carry around? Don't even think about stepping into the yard. Half the time, I'd drop the call or get static if I walked into another room.
  • The internet... Can't live without it, but it is really starting to rule our world. With the internet, I can go anywhere. I can run my small business from any laptop. Staying in touch with friends is as easy as posting a message on Facebook or tweeting on Twitter. There was a time (not that long ago) when you'd go to the library to research a project. Now we just hop on to the world wide web.
  • TIVO. Now here's a great invention! I can watch an hour of TV in 1/2 the time just by zipping through the commercials. Same thing goes for DVD's and Video on Demand. We don't even have to drive to the video store to pick out our movies. Order your favorite show online, or better yet, pull up your Red Box app and have the movie waiting when you pick it up. I will say that I miss going through the Sunday TV Guide and marking all the movies for the coming week. There would be a real dilemma if Frosty the Snowman conflicted with the school's Christmas program.
  • Before every family vacation, we'd load up on various maps of our destination and plan the best route. We had boxes (and boxes) of well-used maps documenting the many places that we had visited. Now we just plug an address into our GPS and listen to a serene woman's voice announce our arrival. "YOU have arrived." Makes me like I'm really going somewhere in this world.

We're not talking dinosaur-aged inventions here. All of these conveniences became mainstays in our lives in the past couple of decades.

In our household, everyone is connected to a cellphone. It makes me almost crazy if I'm trying to reach a child and he doesn't answer ...or at least text me back. I can't imagine having to manually dial each number in an effort to track someone down. Thank goodness for speed dial!

We'll hang on to our old, useless rotary phone, but only for the stories it still has to tell.

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