Life in the Pedestrian Lane: Call Waiting

I bit the bullet the other day and bought a new cell phone. The old one was a little flip phone that worked perfectly well, but it didn’t take pictures, text, have a navigational gps or connect to the internet. All I could do was talk to whomever called me, or call someone I wanted to talk to. Worked fine for me, but the kids wanted me to get into the 21st century, so I did. But it is NOT a smart-phone. It’s amazing to me that this piece of machinery, which is smarter than me, is still at the lower end of the technology curve. It takes pictures, texts easily and will connect to the internet if I really work at it, but it doesn’t take my pulse, or count my steps or record my every thought.

I don’t use it very often, unless I am visiting Outside. There I use it so I don’t have to use someone else’s phone to call my kids or check the flight. Because of that I have a very simple plan…so much a year, and if I renew before the due date, it carries over. So far I’m four years ahead and still accruing. The kids suggested we update and start carrying it and LEAVING IT ON so they could reach us by text. I’m not sure what the attraction of texting is, although I am often annoyed by someone talking on their cell phone when I am sitting by them in the theater or in line somewhere. But it also bothers me to see someone unconsciously texting away oblivious to their surroundings. I probably don’t need to tell you I still have a phone or two or three in the house. (digression: have you ever thought about the additions and changes to the language since technology started running our lives? We have ‘snail mail’ and ‘land lines’ now. “Four on the floor” used to be a coveted thing. It won’t be long before it’s the definition of “dinosaur” when driverless cars come to fruition.)

The first phone number I remember was 5F3 (don’t ask. I can barely remember the number on the new phone) and our ‘ring’ was three shorts. Every household had a ‘code’, determined by the last digits of the phone number. So 5F12 would be one long ring and 2 short rings. Everyone on your line, signified by the first digit (5) could hear your ring, and pick up and listen if so inclined. And often they did, depending on what was going on in the family. If there was a new baby expected, or a member of the family was ill or they were just bored and wondering what was going on in the neighborhood, you were apt to be on a teleconference call whether you planned it or not. Social media in action but we called it ‘rubbering”

Our phone was in the dining room, hung so high off the floor that I needed a chair to reach the mouthpiece even at its lowest position if I ever wanted to talk on the phone, which was very seldom, because kids, when I was one, didn’t talk on the phone. It was powered by two huge dry-cell batteries housed in the bottom compartment. I remember Dad having to change them only once. (another digression: did you ever play the game of holding hands while some misguided friend held onto the battery wire and another rang the phone? The object being to see who could hold on the longest. Seemed like the ringer guy was always the one to instigate the game).

By the time I was of phone age, the system had advanced to the phone that signaled the operator when you picked up. We still had the party line, but the rings went privately into each house, and you didn’t know anyone was on unless you picked up when they were talking. Then before long we graduated to the dial system and the world changed…at least I’m sure my parents thought so, although I didn’t ever spend an inordinate amount of time on the phone . But it was easier to call a friend to check on what to wear to school the next day, or every once in a while get a homework assignment, and more than once to listen to a tearful lament about some boy or another.

Remember how it was in the days BC…before cell phones? I tell the grandkids about having to walk five miles because the car broke down and they say “Why didn’t you call Grandpa?” No way to call for help if you were stranded on the road. You had to hope someone would come by with a jump, or a jack. Today is a whole different culture. Now you just call from the grocery store when you forget the list, or text your friend when you are running late and can’t make the lunch date. Takes some of the mystery out of life but learning to use a new phone certainly makes up for that loss.

Virginia Walters lives in Kenai. Email her at vewalters@gci.net.

More in Life

Sierra Ferrell performs on the River Stage at Salmonfest in Ninilchik, Alaska, on Friday, Aug. 4, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Salmonfest returns Aug. 2-4 for ‘musically infused family reunion’

The three-day event will feature art, festivities and an array of performers

Gold Peak play the opening set of the Seventh Annual Rock’N the Ranch at the Rusty Ravin on Friday, July 7, 2023, at Rusty Ravin Plant Ranch in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Gold Peak play the opening set of the Seventh Annual Rock’N the Ranch at the Rusty Ravin on Friday, July 7, 2023, at Rusty Ravin Plant Ranch in Kenai. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Music fest returns to RustyRavin

The annual nonprofit music festival is a fundraiser for Nuk’it’un, a transitional home for men

Lisa Parker, vice mayor of Soldotna, celebrates after throwing the ceremonial first pitch before a game between the Peninsula Oilers and the Mat-Su Miners on Tuesday, July 4, 2023, at Coral Seymour Memorial Park in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
King of the River food drive extended, Kenai takes lead

The winning city’s mayor will throw the opening pitch at a Peninsula Oilers game

File
Minister’s Message: The gift of lament

We don’t always know what to do in those difficult parts of life.

Chickpea lentil and spinach curry is served with rice and yogurt. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
Finding comfort in memories

I believe that houses hold memories, and I hope the memory of our time there comforts it during its final, painful days.

Virginia Walters (Courtesy photo)
Life in the Pedestrian Lane: Good old summertime

The lupines are crazy this year, as were the dandelions.

This advertisement for the Hilltop Bar and Café, the successor to the Circus Bar, appeared in 1962. The names under “Beer and Booze” refer to co-owners Swede Foss and Steve Henry King. (Advertisement contributed by Jim Taylor)
A violent season — Part 5

Bush did not deny killing Jack Griffiths in October 1961, but he claimed to have had no choice in order to protect himself.

tease
Getting creative with camping

Making healthy, diverse meals while outdoors takes some planning

Most Read