Remember the old telephones? They hung on your wall and stayed there. They were black and heavy and we’d get a bill each month that explained who we called and how long we talked and how much we’d owe. Now, the phones have shrunk – you can’t use them as a weapon like they did in the old black and white movies. My daughters insisted on bringing me into the twenty-first century. “But, I like it in the Nineteenth,” I tell them with passion. Days later my daughter, Sophia, brought to my home two cordless phones; one for the bedroom, another for the family room where the TV is located. At first, I thought they were harmonicas. She showed me how they work, how I can take it with me into the kitchen or basement. They’re not only very small; they are also very light. The good thing about them is that I can see who’s calling, and I don’t have to answer if I don’t recognize the name. The trouble is that now that I can take it anywhere, I can’t remember where I left it. Hearing it ring, I’d race around, frantically, following the sound. “Maybe, it’s in between the sofa cushions. Oh, not the drawer! No, it sounds like it’s coming from the washing machine. “I’m coming!” Finally, I discovered it in the pocket of an apron I wore in the morning. With the old phone, it was on the wall and usually someone I knew was calling.
I used to be able to call the phone company to question a listed call I believe I never made. “Listen! I don’t know a Mr. Braxentoller. And, I don’t even know where Broken Arrow, North Dakota is.” Then, I’d get an apology and a reduction on my next bill. Now, that’s the way business should be done. Today, I get calls like, “we have noticed that you have received a check from the Internal Revenue that shouldn’t have been sent to you. If you do not return that check within 47 hours a group of masked men will come to your door and you will be escorted to one of the worst prisons in your area. In order to prevent that, you must call this number, immediately, and follow directions.” Then, an 800 number follows. That’s when I call our police department. They’re nice guys! But, I’ve called them several times with calls like that, and I think they’ve put my name on their list of ‘possibly delusional’ people. Another call came that wants to send me on a cruise. “But, I don’t want to go on a cruise!” I shout. The voice continues as if I hadn’t spoken. Then, it hits me! It’s a recording! So after spewing a few choice ‘epithets’ in English and Greek, that I hope they review later on, I hang up. I get calls for burglar proofing, windows replacements, basement waterproofing, chimney sweeping, roof tiling and – I’m not kidding – money for the starving kids in some village that I couldn’t find on the map. That’s another thing. When one of those charities called, I asked them to give me a specific name and address of a family that I can get in touch with, personally, and could send money or clothing. They wouldn’t do that. They insisted I send them the money and they tell me, “we’ll take care of it.” Sure! I’d be taking care of the charity’s president, vice-president and staff. Most of them are listed, ‘Non-profit’. I’m convinced I’m the only one working non-profit.
In the old days, if I had a problem with the phone, I’d call the telephone company repair department. A voice would come on who sounded like she was the answer to humanity’s survival. After making me wait while she searched the repair listing, I am forced to listen to a trombone medley. I wait, and wait. I hate trombones. I could have read, War and Peace bin that time. Then, she’d come back with a date, “possibly before midnight on October 28th. Will anybody be home?”
But, just when I thought I, finally, mastered the cordless phones by tying a pink ribbon around them, I learn that they’re ‘old hat’. My daughter wants to introduce me to a cell phone. And, they aren’t cheap! I complained to my cousin in Greece who is older than me about how my daughter wants to upgrade the phones, again. I complained, “now, they want to get me the kind that you can take outside of the house. Imagine!” After a few silent seconds, she says, “YOU don’t have a cell phone?”