Some Improvement (June 2000)

I remember phones when they were all black and you stuck your finger in a hole on a dial and cranked it around until your knuckle rammed into the little metal thing. I also remember when the first Princess phones came out, as I was one, after all. (A PRINCESS, not a phone!) And, I remember the first push button phones, the new click in jacks, and finally the first cordless telephones. (I sometimes have to remind my daughter that I do NOT remember phones that had to be cranked!)

I also remember the first car phones. They cost an arm and a leg, and then another half an arm. When they got a little less expensive Steve and I finally got some. By that time, they were making the kind that didn't even need to be attached to the car. Pretty cool, huh? You can go grocery shopping, or to the mall and take your phone with you. I'm still getting used to them. I must be tone deaf. I'm not yet able to distinguish my ring from someone else's and have been known to answer my purse when it was some other shopper's handbag going off.

I also worry too much about brain tumors growing on the phone side of my head after watching that 60 minutes episode, even though I'm on the phone less than 12 minutes a month. I tend to talk really fast and shout because I like to hold the phone as far from my brain as possible. I don't mind. Only 4 people know my telephone number and none of them want to talk to me. Anymore.

Keeping my phone ready to receive those calls, should they ever come, is a major challenge, however. When my phone is not beeping like a dying smoke detector warning me of yet another battery meltdown, the thing's totally dead. And when the phone's not dead, the car battery is because I've left the phone plugged into the cigarette lighter long after I turned off the ignition. The AAA man knows me by name.

Today we entered a new era. Digital. Our 16-year-old just got her driver's license last week and as of this afternoon, we are now a three-person, three-phone family. We went in to add one cheap, but dependable, little phone for the new driver, and came out with THREE brand new, iddy-bitty state-of-the-art phones. I'm still wondering how that happened.

Unfortunately all this new technology is wasted on us. The one person who actually understands how to work the phones is the one forbidden to use it in anything but an emergency. Each phone, for example, has 10 distinctive rings so my phone can play Beethoven, Steve's can ring in Brahms, and Jennie can listen to a three-tune medley from Third Eye Blind until she can safely pull off the road, put the car in park, turn on the emergency flashers, check the security of all doors and windows, find her purse, and answer the phone. We also have 3 way calling so I can dial up Steve and 911 at the same time as I am listening to Jen not picking up her phone.

The new phones also have voicemail, call forwarding, storage of up to 99 names and telephone numbers, and a small bread-making machine. They will stay charged for 5 whole entire days. And, according to the 58 page instruction booklet, I could inadvertently bring down a 747 should I accidentally turn on my phone during flight. This was very comforting.

This evening Jennie and I spent over an hour programming the new phones and playing with the ringers. While I read the manual out loud to myself and programmed my phone with the numbers of family, friends, and 94 take-out restaurants, Jennie entered the numbers and names of the entire sophomore class in to her phone and the contents of our family telephone book into her father's phone. Simultaneously. As in one phone in each hand---and without reading ANY of the directions! She's even figured out a way to make the phone ring with a different tune for each of 10 different callers and how to make it answer automatically. I learned how to switch the display on my phone to Japanese. Audiovox didn't know their phones did that. They'll be getting back to me. Isn't technology great?
(c) 2000 by Ami Simms.