You call that a phone??

All right, kids, gather around, because I have something awesome to show you. No, seriously, stop texting for a second and listen to me, you little bastards. HEY! Put your phone DOWN! Turn the goddamn thing off! Do you pull this shit when your parents are trying to talk to you?? Oh, great, now you’re updating your Facebook status and complaining to everybody about what a dick I am. All right, enough is enough. Gimme that fucking phone, because YOU’RE ABOUT TO EAT IT. You know what?? That little device you can’t stop playing with doesn’t look a “phone” to me in the first place. For you see, THIS is a phone.

The latest and greatest from the Alexander Graham Bell Collection!

The latest and greatest from the Alexander Graham Bell Collection!

Now, I know what you’re probably thinking. That thing must be a BITCH to carry around, right? And what’s with those “button” things? There isn’t even a screen on it! I think it’s also safe to say you can’t download any apps on this device, nor can you download Flappy Bird, Angry Birds, or any other avian-themed games. All you can do is talk into it. Furthermore, you can’t carry it around with you either, because it’s mounted on the wall. And did you notice the cord hanging from the receiver? That means you can only go as far away from the phone as the cord will let you! Shocking, isn’t it??

The phone you’re looking at is almost exactly like the one we had when I was growing up. Actually, we didn’t really “have” it… phones were very expensive, you see, so we had to pay to RENT the thing every month from Michigan Bell, our phone company. When it rang, a bell literally went off. No, you couldn’t customize your ringer with a Lady Gaga song. A loud, shrill bell was your ONLY option. Am I blowing your mind? Well, I’m not through yet!

Would you believe that in a house of four people, this was the ONLY phone we had? That’s right, anyone wanting to talk to me, my brother or my parents all dialed the SAME number. So, if I was expecting an important phone call and my mom was tying up the line by yapping away with grandma, I was plain shit out of luck. Even if someone TRIED to call me, they couldn’t get through because there was NO SUCH THING as call waiting! Nope, any perspective caller would instead be greeted by this annoying tone called a “busy signal”. AND… here’s where it gets really crazy… let’s suppose for a moment that somebody tried calling the house when there was nobody home. You know what would happen then?? Not only would NOBODY get the call, we wouldn’t have even known you called in the first place! Caller ID didn’t exist! Neither did voicemail! There was such a thing as an answering machine, which could record messages for you on these little things called cassettes, but they were far too expensive. You had to be practically rich to have shit like that.

Oh, you kids today have it so easy. Did you know that when I was your age, even the simple act of calling a girl was a major production? First of all, you had to get a hold of her phone number. That was no easy feat in those days, unless you were cute, which I definitely was not. The only way to get a phone number was to look through this giant thing that came to the house every year called a “telephone directory”. I’m sure you’ve seen one of these before. It’s that thing your parents immediately throw in the garbage as soon as they see it, or perhaps use in the fireplace. But back in those days, we NEEDED that book. If I wanted to call a girl, I’d have to do some detective work; I’d look for all the local listings with her last name, and call them one by one until I reached the right house. This wasn’t too difficult if she had an unusual last name, but what if her last name was Smith?? You might dial 50 numbers before you finally hit on the correct one! And even if I eventually happened on the number, what if she didn’t answer? What if her smart ass older brother answered instead? Holy shit, WHAT IF HER DAD ANSWERED??

You might want to wipe off that receiver before you talk into it.

You might want to wipe off that receiver before you talk into it.

Now, I know this a lot for you kids to take in. I’m probably making it sound like the ONLY way you could make a phone call is if you happened to be at home and your mom wasn’t using the line. But this isn’t exactly true. Once upon a time, there was such a thing as a “pay phone”. They’re pretty much extinct now, but they used to be thriving and plentiful throughout the land. I remember the local mall having an entire island of them, and teenage girls would be seen swarming all around them like bees on flowers. If you wanted to make a call, it cost 20 cents. Then it was 25 cents. Then 30 cents. Then 50 cents! Then they pretty much disappeared. I’m not sure how much a pay phone would cost these days, but you’d probably need your credit card.

Of course, we didn’t stay in the Stone Age forever. One year at Christmas, my mother’s co-workers bought her a (*gasp!*) CORDLESS phone!! I was awestruck! The top of the receiver had a retractable metal antenna which allowed you to walk freely throughout the house as you were talking! Sure, the reception was lousy and you could barely hear through all the static, but I can’t tell you how cool I felt when I was able to sit on the front porch and talk on the phone! I felt TOTALLY cutting edge! And when we got an answering machine a year or two later, that was truly the shit. With a cordless phone, an answering machine, a VCR, and a “space saver” microwave, it’s like I was living in futuristic house!!

So yeah, kids, that little electronic thing you carry around? That thing with a CPU that’s at least 50 times more advanced and powerful than any computer that even existed when I was your age? That ain’t a phone. You can make calls with it, but how often do you actually DO that? I see you kids hovering over your phones all the time, but I rarely see you actually TALKING on them. Texting, updating Facebook, tweeting, playing games, taking selfies? Sure. But in my day, we actually TALKED to one another!! If we wanted to know how someone was doing, we’d pick up our corded phones and CALL them! Can you do that?? I didn’t think so! You kids suck!!!

/Old Man Rant


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