Stay in Touch, Mr. Bell

We are decidedly phone-challenged at our house.  For years after everyone else had touch-tone phones, we still had our old rotary model on the kitchen wall.  We had it so long after the rest of the world had pitched theirs, that once a repairman needed to use it and had to ask how it worked.  Although I am not very technically savvy, I would have thought the process was obvious, but perhaps there are some repairmen who are less techy than I am.

We finally kissed the old rotary goodbye when it got to the point where we couldn’t get through to businesses with automated systems anymore.  For a long while, they had an option at the end of the “press 1, 2, or 3” messages that said, “If you have a rotary phone, please stay on the line.”  But eventually they abandoned the stay-on-the-line option, and just hung up on us.

My husband is the most phone-challenged of the two of us.  I am not far behind him, but I manage to avoid phones that I don’t know how to work so that I don’t look silly, while he plows ahead and tries, revealing to all the world that he doesn’t know what he is doing.  Some of the phones around our house require hitting a talk button in order to proceed.  Some require that you don’t hit any buttons to answer them.  Inevitably, Paul gets them mixed up.  He cuts off calls by punching buttons when he shouldn’t, and stands there yelling, “Hello?  Hello?” with the phone still ringing in his ear on the ones where he should use the button.  We can’t seem to get him trained.  Sounds like something straight out of The Addams Family, doesn’t it? 

I think we need to write our congressman and see if he can do anything about getting all phone manufacturers to standardize the way the equipment works.  We’ll present it as a senior citizen issue.  Maybe we can get AARP to enter the fray on our behalf. 

It could even become the deciding factor in the presidential race!  Mr. McCain, looking very grandfatherly, could do commercials saying that he understands how it is.  He could bemoan his own difficulties with technology, and promise every senior citizen in the country a standardized, easy-to-use, free telephone.  Mr. Obama (the young whipper-snapper!) would not be able to relate in the slightest, and would lose that election hands-down.

But I digress.

My husband has a cell phone.  As I have said in a previous post, he has it, but he does not know how to answer it.  He can call home just fine, but when I try to reach him, I get a computerized voice telling me that the user of this phone is unavailable.  He’s not unavailable!  He’s strolling the aisles of Menards or Home Depot!  He’s either got the phone accidentally turned off, or else he can’t hear it ring.  And he cannot figure out how to set up voice mail.  (I probably wouldn’t know how, either, but that’s neither here nor there, because I’m the one picking on him, not vice versa.)

Paul’s cell phone is usually off when it should be on, and on when it should be off. This morning we were at a family funeral.  In the middle of the service, we were all treated to some music that was not part of the program — The Russian Dance from Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite.  It went on for several seconds.

“Paul, is that your phone?”

He gave me an innocent, vigorous shake of the head that indicated, “Uh-Uh.  Not me.  I wouldn’t be doing that in church!”

I listened to it for several more seconds, and finally decided, since no one else was turning it off, that the dance music must be emanating from Paul’s pocket.  (Besides, no one else in the whole world has Tchaikovsky as their ring tone.)

“Paul!  It is TOO your phone!”

He decided I might know what I was talking about after all, and got it shut down before it finished playing the entire piece.   It  flowed rather nicely into How Great Thou Art, or whatever we sang next, but it’s good he got it stopped.  Everybody knew the words to How Great Thou Art, but they didn’t know how to sing The Russian Dance.

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