Wednesday, January 19, 2011

One ringy-dingy

When we lived on a farm we had a party line. For those of you too young to remember, a party line was a telephone line that you shared with a neighbour. If you wanted to use the line you had to make sure your neighbor wasn't also talking on it. It  was my understanding that a lot of our neighbors got their 'news' by listening in on their shared line. Having a party line was just something we got used to as we managed our affairs; we learned to keep the length of our calls to a minimum and stick just to the facts. If you started to speculate about a particular issue, that speculation could morph into something uncontrollable. So, I learned the phone was a device intended to relay important information that  you used infrequently and only when necessary.

It was  a big deal when we got a private line.  A PRIVATE line: it sounded so snooty. I still remember the phone number we had 939-6502. When a school friend called, I would take the call upstairs, away from prying eyes and big ears,  face the wall and talk in a very low tone. I was taking the "private" part to the nth degree. However, we were still told to keep those calls short since we were paying per minute.

Nowadays we can have private conversations without anyone even knowing we are conversing. Texting is almost  like working undercover. Click click click - send. You could be relaying highly confidential information or you could be googling the origin of the word "nosey parker". And when someone uses a headset or bluetooth  the only way you know they're talking is when they adopt that glassy eyed  non-focusing stare. People talk at times when silence was expected - church, in the car, walking down the street. It seems if someone ISN'T on the phone, they're not doing anything of importance.

Bill was always a big phone guy. When portable phones were first introduced he managed to procure one of those suitcase phones for travel. It was actually another piece of luggage. Very high tech. He loved it. I can't begin to count the number of phones he has had during our married life. It's his life line.

He often jokes that he calls me so much that there is no way that he could be having an affair... that is unless his lover his highly tolerant of his checking in with his wife 10 times a day.  He gets right to the point on his calls and sometimes starts his conversations with the words :BULLET POINTS and then he'll list his news items. Many nights he'll call me successive times:
Call 1 he's packing up at the office;
Call 2 he's walking to the car;
Call 3 he's in the car; and  
Call 4 he's almost home... do I need anything?  

By the 4th call he usually detects my exasperation because my initial cheery "Hello" (we have caller ID)  has changed to  a surly "WHAT?"

But as my mother says, I''ll miss it when it ends.  And I won't have a party line to get my fix of the news of the day.

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