Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Party Line


I can't abide the telephone and will do almost anything to avoid talking on it. Especially answering it.

I'm not sure when this dislike of phones crystalized. Maybe it's because I didn't grow up in the phone generation. No long teenage schmoozes on princess phones in our house. No extension lines snaking in the bedroom. Just the standard black rotary phone on its rickety stand straddling the liminal boundary between the dining room and the living room.

When my grannie (who was old school, as in Victorian) finally got a telephone, it was solely for emergencies. So when we were allowed to use the phone, we were taught to get off the line as quickly as possible as it was a party line.

The entire end of our road was dependent upon that one line. Mrs. Decker who trained guide dogs.  Her shepherd was named Lorna and barked incessantly. Old Man Latindorf, who spoke German.  He never used his phone. It was for emergencies only. The Vinciliones and Ratios. You could recognize everybody's voices. And their breathing too when they snuck on the line to have a listen. There was another disembodied voice on the line, a woman, I never figured out who it was.

When someone did call, which was pretty rare, you had to listen to the ring pattern to figure out who the call was for, two close rings was for us. Receiving a phone call was terribly exciting. We'd stampede to the phone. And wait for the ring pattern. The anticipation, guessing who it was on the other end. The news to come.

When answering machines were invented, my phone stress levels dropped. Screening calls became the norm. I tended to hyperventilate while on the phone, but wearing a paper bag over my head became problematic. So I just quit answering the phone long before it became fashionable to screen calls.

I prefer to talk to people either in person, or in writing. My cellphone's only used for emergencies & texting (if I'm running late, or stuck in traffic, etc.) But that old jingle jangle still has that same knee-jerk reaction. Pavlovian response, at best.
















FIRST DRAFT: Can't abide the phone and will do almost anything to avoid talking on the phone. Especially answering it. When answering machines were invented, my stress levels dropped. I prefer to talk either in person, or in writing. My cellphone's used for emergencies & texting (that I'm running late, stuck in traffic, etc.) I didn't grow up in the phone generation. When my grannie (who was old school) finally got a phone, it was pretty much for emergencies. So we were taught to get off the phone as quickly as possible as it was a party line. The entire end of our road was on that one line.

we had a party line all the way up the end of Barranca Road in Forest Knolls. At least 3, if not more, parties on the line. I was young, and only recognized the voice of Mrs. Decker who ran Guide Dogs for the Blind. Her shepherd was named Lorna and barked incessantly. Old Man Latindorf, he never used his phone. It was for emergencies only. There was another disembodied voice on the line, a woman, I never figured out who it was.

2 comments:

Zana said...

I always turned off the cell when visiting my aunt, who had Alzheimer's.She was always in the day room. That sound was always still with them. If the phone rang, they all tried to get up. Pavlov's dog.

Maureen Hurley said...

Hi Zana, just found this little hidden alcove of unpublished comments in a Blogger archive, with a whole slew of comments waiting to be moderated.

I bet they all jumped up when the phone rang. It's so ingrained. I love hearing the stories about your family, and your aunt. Such astute observations. You're doing good work, Zana. Thank you for reading. Speaking of trolls, there were more than few trollish attacks on me for my Viking Redhead Myth piece. I elected to not advance the kingdom trolldom by not publishing them.