cellphone
A broken cell phone. Photo: Ashkan Forouzani
What has happened to telephone manners?
Monday, March 22, 2021

Here’s a column that few people under the age of 40 will read. Maybe if it were a text message, they’d notice it.

I’m writing to express my old-timer frustration with what seems to be an alarming and irritating decline in telephone manners. Not that it will do much good. It just allows me to vent and maybe a fellow other old-timers will agree.

Now more than ever, due to COVID isolation (thank goodness that is easing up), telephones have become a more essential part of our daily lives. Many of us rely on that communication tool for a daily ‘connect’ with loved ones back home – for example, one of my cousins and I speak daily to share the news, make sure we are still vertical and long since having run out of new news often lapsing into reminiscing old stories.

For some of us oldsters those daily calls are a highlight of the day. Phones also have practical application such as ordering groceries, paying bills and every so often a pizza. Maybe not so much on the Rez, but those last options are handy in town.

Most of my most-called numbers are committed to memory for long established land lines. Some friends have had the same number for decades. If for some reason, we lose or forget that number, we can use the phone book or call directory assistance to get it back. I’ve always been puzzled about unlisted land lines. Isn’t the purpose of a phone to have someone call you? Maybe we can chalk that up to the fear of dreaded bill collectors or irritating ubiquitous salespeople.

That’s a tough job, I know from experience, once in college resorting to that. So, I try to be firmly kind to them. After all, you must be fairly desperate to try that line of work and we should give them credit for holding down a job rather than being on the dole.

One of my tactics goes like this: “I’m so glad you called. I’m a journalist doing a piece on telephone solicitors. Do you have a moment to answer a few questions?” Oddly enough, this had led to some interesting conversations, boredom on both ends temporarily alleviated. They are human too.

Not so for cell phones. If you lose a cell phone number or worse yet your own cell phone number with the ‘contacts’, you are sunk. Why isn’t there a national cell phone directory?

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Clara Caufield can be reached at acheyennevoice@gmail.com

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