It was reported this week that Americans lost about $30 billion worth of mobile phones
last year. That’s about one every 3.5 seconds. They say it costs between $200-$300 to replace most phones, not to mention the loss of contact and social-media information stored there.
I remember the first phone of my childhood. It was black and sat on the top of a wooden box that had a crank on the side of it. We had a party line, shared with other farmers living on Road 52. Whenever the phone rang for any of these farmer families, it rang for all. We had to listen to the ring to determine if the call was for us or for someone else. Our ring was three shorts. Grandma’s was a long and two shorts. You could pick up the phone for anyone’s ring and listen in if you wanted to. If you covered the speaking end tightly with the palm of your hand, it’s likely no one would know you were there. Our phone number was 27F3.
When we wanted to make a phone call, we cranked the crank a few quick times and an Operator would answer and ask for the number we wanted to reach, and then she’d connect us. We could also ask the Operator what time it was. She was always friendly and polite.
In 1969 we tore down the old farm house and built a new home in its place. When we moved into our finished new home, we had to get new phones. We said good bye to the party line. Our new phones had cords so that you could walk around the room while talking on the phone. I spent many hours on those phones during my teenage years. It was the way we stayed connected with our “social networks.” Some phone cords were long enough to stretch from one room into another, even fitting under closed doors so we could giggle with girlfriends in private.
I remember when John gave me my first cell phone for a birthday many years ago. I did not want it. I couldn’t imagine why anyone would want to be that available. Our home phone had an answering machine plugged into it. That was sufficient for my needs. Now I’ve been known to turn around and return home if I’ve left my phone behind. Our world is changing. We are so very connected–except to our phones. $30 billion a year. . . that would buy miles and miles of cords . . . or feed entire countries of people.