Sunday, March 26, 2006

The Telephone

It seems we always hear “back in the old days” from anybody who has any age advantage on the listener. Well, I think the saying actually has a lot of meaning. For example, back when I was a teenager or even in college it was rare that a girl pursued a guy in some aggressive sense. Trust me, the world has changed.

For my younger years use of the telephone was not really a consideration since we were on a party line. Most of our younger adults have never dealt with a party line. In fact most young adults do not know a world without compact discs or mobile telephones. But many of you also remember when there were only a handful of telephones in town or even none at all. If my count was right we had as many as eight households on our party line. You pick up and hear a conversation so you hang up and wait. There was no “busy light” other than the senses of your ear. Fortunately somewhere back in my preteens the telephone system in Cherokee took a change and private lines became reality.

I do remember getting one telephone call that was real interesting. The person calling did not understand my tolerance to the risk he imposed was low. My Dad was sound asleep when the telephone rang. The person politely asked for Dad and I politely told them Dad was asleep. They told me that I should wake my Dad since he was needed at work. My best judgment concluded it was not possible for their need to be greater than the risk I would undertake so I denied their request. While I am not sure what really would have happened had I woke Dad, I must have chosen correctly because my backside didn’t suffer. But I remember the other person wasn’t happy. So most of my youthful telephone experiences could be labeled boring at best.

Last night the telephone rang after nine in the evening. A girl was looking for my youngest son. Now it seems to me the telephone rang all day with girls looking for my two boys. When did the roles get reversed? I thought I had fixed the telephone problem. Not long ago I installed a fancy computer network in the house. My telephone service comes from the Internet and I have an Atlanta telephone number. I do not have an Ohio telephone number and hoped long distance calls would help deter the problem. Nope. The telephone still rings quite regularly.

I’m not sure how many of you fine folks have met my daughter, but my wife and I got exactly what we prayed for in our little girl. An independent who is willing to stand up for herself. I didn’t have to answer the telephone for that call last night. My daughter ran to the telephone, picked it up, and provided some entertaining dialogue. “I’m sorry, he is not able to come to the phone right now. You shouldn’t be calling at this hour. You have gotten us all in trouble.” Here is where I look up from my computer with interest since I wasn’t involved yet. “Look, you should never call at this time of the night and don’t call back.” Then, without waiting for a reply, my daughter disconnects the call.

Now comes the part that really proves my theory. My daughter takes the telephone, which happens to be cordless, to her bedroom and quietly shuts the door. In a moment I notice the flashing lights on the concoction of equipment that connects my home telephone system to the Internet. I quietly set my laptop computer to the side, walk over to my equipment, and pull a wire. The lights stop blinking. I simply wait a moment and my daughter appears from her bedroom with a confused look. Things are never what they seem but it is comforting to know that when the world does change, it changes consistently. There is a very happy ending. I am now officially initiated into the “old fashioned club” with honor.