Good morning Everyone!
I had to make a telephone call yesterday. For years in our town, every phone number began with one of two prefixes – 234 or 329. There was a time (this was true in my grandparents’ town, too) when you only had to dial five numbers to make an in-town call. In a kind of shorthand, you either started the number with 4 or 9 and the phone brain that resides somewhere most of us never see automatically supplied the first two digits. Long distance calls required 1, the area code and then the phone number. Those days are long gone.
Today, a phone call goes more like this.
I dial: 1-205-555-5555 (FN)
Phone brain: Screeching electronic tones, then: (Pleasant Female Voice): “The number you have reached is disconnected or no longer in service. If you think you have reached this recording in error, please check the number and try again.”
Even though I know that this number is active and in service, I dutifully hang up and check the number. Some part of me knows that the Phone Brain is watching from afar, and there will be consequences if I don’t follow instructions. Seeing that I dialed it correctly, I decide to try just the last seven numbers.
Phone Brain: (Sterner Mail Voice, but ditching the screeching electronic tones): “We’re sorry but you must first dial a 1 or 0 before calling this number. Please hang up and try again.”
Pursuant to instructions, I then dial 1-324-4008.
Phone Brain: (Same Stern Male Voice): “We’re sorry but you must first dial a 1 or 0 before calling this number. Please hang up and try again.”
Successive tries with 1 still fail and I begin to call Phone Brain names that I hope my child never hears and repeats. I finally drop the 1 and use the area code and the seven digit phone number: 205-324-4008. (Please note that this is the one instruction Phone Brain did NOT give me!)
The call finally goes through. I think I can hear Phone Brain laughing in the background.
I would like to add that only a Phone Brain with a wicked and twisted sense of humor would add “392” as an additional prefix in a town where “329” reigned for three decades.
Have a great day!
FN: The phone number has been changed to protect the innocent as well as myself, since most receptionists would deem it justifiable homicide if someone gave out a number that required them to field meaningless phone calls from people trying to see if a number works.
I worked for a few years in the cell phone industry in the early 2000s. I had never owned a cell phone prior to my working there. I had only had a landline and paid for long distance. If I wasn’t home, you missed me. And I lived in a place small enough where you could still dial seven digits locally. Now I can’t dial a number without the area code, it’s just ingrained. We are back to having a “landline” although through a wireless company in addition to the cell phones. I remember the shock of realizing that cell phones don’t have a dial tone. So, that is to say, phone brain haunts me too. Especially using a phone without my contacts list because I don’t know anyone’s number anymore.
I almost never use my contacts list for that very reason – I don’t really want to forget people’s numbers!