Archive for Wednesday, January 31, 2001

Phones rule our lives

January 31, 2001

I hate the phone. I mean really hate it. I think I must be getting old or at least old fashioned. It seems that the more I see of the newest technology, the more I long for "Maybelle" at the phone switchboard and the wait it took to get a phone call put through. As with every new advance, it seems that we are at the mercy of the technology rather than in charge of it.

I know that this "instant communication" is supposed to make everything easier and give us more time and security to do the things we want, but it doesn't seem to work that way to me. It appears as if we are the prisoners of the very technology that we are supposed to be using as tools especially the phone.

When I was about knee high to a short sheep, we had a party line. There were at least four other homes on the line and I really think there may have been six. We learned to listen for our special ring and often joined in other calls on the line to chat and socialize at least my mother did. It was being nosey if I did it. We knew if the neighbors were home by the number of rings it took for someone to answer, and at one of the neighbors, whether or not they were milking, because the phone made a funny chirp when it was answered at the non-authorized extension in the barn. Phone calls were a special event, especially long distance ones.

Then technology began to advance rapidly and suddenly there were extensions in most every room of the house. I really thought that one of my best friends "had it made" when he got one in his room. It meant that he could have the total privacy of making a call to his best girl without the rest of the family hanging on every word. The phone was still a tool.

I think it began to go bad about the time that we figured out that we needed to have a phone at home for after hours work. When a real estate broker friend of mine had one installed conveniently in the bathroom, I had the first twinge that something was going wrong. Until that time there was at least one place where a person could hide from the insistent demands of the phone.

Answering machines were a short reprieve from that lemming like march toward total imprisonment. For a few short years, I could screen the calls and at least ignore the ones that were less than welcome, while being able to leave the house knowing that if something really important happened I would eventually find out when I returned home. I admit to being lodged firmly in this historic period.

Now, we are wireless. Not only can we receive and make phone calls in most any location, with the possible exception of downtown Overbrook, but we can monitor our stock quotes, get e-mail, send e-mail and instant messages (words on the phone, not voices), and just in case we are stuck someplace where no one could possibly reach us by voice, e-mail or instant messaging, we can play video games all on the same hand-held, color optioned, digitally enhanced, sub-woofer'd, postage stamp sized, flip phone that can be loaded with a restricted number of long distance minutes and easily recycled when we tire of the limitations of this particular model.

No longer is the bathroom, bedroom or even the great outdoors a haven from the incessant ringing. Not too long ago, I watched as a woman dug furiously through her purse trying each of the three cell phones in it to try to quiet the obnoxious Broadway show tune that was playing. The irony of the situation was that it belonged to the person sitting next to her who, by the way, was totally ignoring hers.

Sometimes, when the urge to head for the high country is strong, I slip into a daydream about the quiet and peace that the mountains and forest would afford me. Lately, that dream is marred by the image of a great bear rumbling full tilt at me, sliding to halt at my side, holding out a cell phone and screaming, "It's for you! Answer the darn thing!"

Calendar

Feb. 3 Basketball games scheduled at the high school postponed until March 10

Feb. 4 Baseball equipment turn in day (coaches from 2000).

Feb. 5 Spring Soccer registrations begin. American Sign Language classes begin

Feb. 24 Baseball/softball registration day

March 24 Boater's Safety Course. More details to come.

Adult Basketball (4 on 4): schedules are ready and you should have gotten a call by now or in the very near future. Play will begin Feb. 11 at the Baldwin Elementary Gym. Football is over and the spring is going to be a cool, wet one. This should be a great time to take a break from the couch before the baseball season sets in.

American Sign Language Class: For grades 1 through 5. Will meet at Baldwin Elementary School at 3:30 p.m. Grades 1-3 on Mondays. Grades 4-5 on Tuesdays. Cost is $15. for six weeks. USD 348 staff may attend free of charge. Starts Feb. 5. Contact the office for more details.

Monte the Dancing Bear slow dancing with earplugs. Baldwin City Recreation Commission, 820 High Street; Phone, 594-3670; e-mail, baldrec@knetconnect.net.

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