Because I finally ended up buying a smartphone, I suddenly find myself thinking about my history in telephones.
I vaguely remember that, for a short time after we moved to Hayden, Colorado, we had a party line. I still remember answering the phone once and being told, more or less, that I had/was the wrong number. I also remember that not lasting long–which may mean I’m completely full of crap and basing all this on false memories.
Those were the rotary phone days. To this day I still like the idea of those as the slow dialing process gave you time to seriously consider if the call you were about to make was a good idea or not. That would have saved me a lot of trouble at university, where we had touch tone phones with memories and speed dial. Those left you with enough time to think “You know, I probably ought to wait–” before “Hello?” and then the crap fell where it fell.
After we moved back to Kansas my experience with phones was as my sister’s answering machine and listening to her have conversations with friends where no one seemed to speak other than in grunts and monosyllables. On my sister’s side it sounded like “Howydoin?” “M’too.” “Ya.” “Ya.” “No.” “Really?” “Ya.” Call-waiting would allow her to have that same conversation with multiple friends at the same time.
In my fraternity, we were assigned various chores around the house and the most hated was “Phone and Door” which required the victim, er, loyal trustworthy clean and reverent (so to speak) brother to sit for three hours from 6-9 and answer the phone and door and fetch the intended recipient or take messages and/or try to figure out which girlfriend was calling before saying that the intended recipient was actually present. (I did this part with such deliberate obviousness, and caused more than one argument, that I soon got myself out of phone and door duty. Or maybe I just sucked at it because I didn’t actually care if anyone got messages.)
My first experience with an actual answering machine came after I won a drawing at university. I quickly realized that the problem with them was that 1–it was difficult to deny that you HADN’T received a call (No, mom, my roommate must have erased it…) and 2–if you called back long-distance, it was your money being spent and not the other person’s which meant the calls were a lot longer.
The answering machine eventually died, which was probably for the best.
In Japan I faced my first experience with paying for local calls. This meant that if I used my full 15 hours of “free” dial-up internet time, I was actually paying 90 dollars or so for the phone costs. This, by the way, is part of what caused Japan to jump ahead in cellphone use and technology.
Still plagued by the notion that only jerks had cellphones, I held off buying one until I moved to Tokyo and having a cellphone made my job easier. (For the record: this does not mean that I am not a jerk; it just means I didn’t buy a cellphone until I needed one.) My first cellphone was a Nokia DP-154EX, which I got mostly because it had a large ear hole. It sucked and I understand why Nokia didn’t do well in Japan.
However, after I started working at the school, I was till teaching a few part-time classes but the cellphone wasn’t as important, just useful. Even though it sucked, I kept it until I found that squeezing the sides caused the power to go out. I then switched to Toshiba cellphones, culminating in the 810T that was due to be replaced. I bought that one because it had, for the time, a good built-in camera.
After a careful research, and She Who Must Be Obeyed declaring she wanted to keep her phone, which meant we had to stay with our current provider, I decided to go with the Fujitsu Arrows A 301F, mostly because it has a good camera and reviews said it had good battery life.
I’m also waiting to see how long it is before I actually need to use it as a phone and not just as an electronic map, email checking device and a portable message writer.