Friday, November 18, 2011

Number, Please



The other night I went for a run/walk a little later than I usually do. I don't normally take my cell phone with me on these jaunts because I don't like it flopping around in my pocket. It was already starting to get dark when I left the house, but I had a lot of ya-ya's to get out and nothing was going to stop me.

About thirty minutes into my route, as I turned the corner to go down what passes for a hill in our neighborhood, I realized I was in a part of town without streetlights. The surface of the street was uneven and suddenly I had a vision of myself, tripping, falling and sprawling out on the dark street, bloodied and bruised.

I suddenly freaked out just a little.
It was not that image that sent a flare of worry up into my brain.

It wasn't the potential pain or the potential disfigurement that bothered me.

No, I envisioned the scene after the fall in which worried villagers gathered around me with flashlights. (Well, in my dramatic vision, they held lanterns.) With furrowed brows, they ask what number they should call so someone can come and pick up my mangled body.

It suddenly dawned on me that I know only five current phone numbers from memory. One of them is mine and two of them are the numbers of my sons who are far away. One is for HOB (who is far away in another way) and the other number is for the house phone of my good friend who is not home very much.

Yikes. I thought. Really? I only have one or two viable local numbers stored in my brain? I slowed down just a little, hopped back on the sidewalk, and headed for a better-lit section of town.

When I got home, I looked at my cell phone suspiciously. It IS very nice to just whip down that list of names and poke around until the hard working little robot bugs inside the phone do the work of remembering the number and make the call for me.

However, before I had a cell phone, I had an entire little section of my brain devoted to storing those ten or seven digit numbers. If I didn't remember a phone number, I reached for the Rolodex and found it quickly and dialed it for myself. Once I dialed it enough, it went into the filing cabinet in my cranium.

Now, when someone gives me a phone number, I program it directly into my phone and neglect to write it down at all. The phone swallows the number, replaces it with a name, and tells me to just go have a drink--it has taken care of everything. I am flattered and lulled into the sweet seduction.

"OK," I say. "Thank you very much."

"Would you like a cookie too?" it asks.

"Why, yes I would," I answer.

I think about people who lose their phones. How do they get all those numbers back? What if my phone was eaten by a rabid dog? Run over by a car? Stolen by terrorists? Flushed down the toilet? Experienced spontaneous combustion?

This weekend, I've decided to record (on actual paper!) some of those numbers that are only in my phone. I may even try to memorize a few more numbers of local friends. It will take some time and effort.

My phone, sensing its potential loss of power, may try talk me out of it, but I will be strong.

Well, unless it offers me a Diet Pepsi and chocolate chip cookies with walnuts.

Then, it's all over.


38 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I don't have a cell phone (yes, weird, I know) so I have to write down phone numbers.
And you have a unique award waiting for you today!

Mamma has spoken said...

Aw Betty, people who loose their cell phone for one reason or another, will put a post on facebook about the death of their phone and how everyone needs to email them their contact information so that they can program it into their new phone.
Seriously, I've seen these posts way too often.

Leah J. Utas said...

I don't have a cell phone either. I still remember phone numbers that I used at work (quit 10 years ago) but one's the currently need I find I have to look up.
Memorizing a few numbers is good brain exercise, I think.

Old Kitty said...

I haven't got a mobile phone, won't know how to use one and don't ever ever want to have one.

Awww BB! You are Boss of your phone!

:-)

Take care
x

Larri @ Seams Inspired said...

I have a thing for numbers, so I have most of them memorized. I also have a neat little spreadsheet printout of all those numbers. I'm old school, I guess. My cell phone is only for emergencies. I don't text or any of that stuff.

Flartus said...

Your phone offers you cookies??? What kind is it; I WANT ONE!!!

Gigi said...

I just heard about a study that proves technology is changing what we remember. And this post proves it.

I used to have a bunch of phone numbers memorized. But no more. All because of my phone.

I'm with you. I will be writing them all down and putting them in that old fashioned thing called an "address book" this weekend!

Anne Gallagher said...

My cell phone is only for emergencies, can't text or pic. And it only has two numbers on it.

I have three little black books with numbers from the last 30 years. Not that I call any of those people anymore, but I just can't seem to throw them away.

I still have our old house phone number memorized because someday, I will move somewhere else and I want that number again. (Almost had it this time. Just one town over had the correct exchange.)

Daisy said...

Diet Pepsi and cookies with walnuts?? I am SO THERE!! haha!

I have just 5 numbers stored in my cell phone. The rest I have written down in a little book, but I hardly ever call the ones in the book. I just don't like using the phone at all that much, I guess. I never have liked talking on the phone. I carry my cell phone with me but mostly for emergencies and so I can get text messages from my sons and text them back. They rarely call either--they just text.

I'm glad you didn't REALLY fall and hurt yourself, by the way. So much bad stuff happens to us in our imaginations that never occurs in reality--ha! I'm the same way like that. :-)

Have a good weekend, Betty!

Slamdunk said...

I should follow your lead as I cannot remember my own cell phone number on most days.

Hilary said...

Include me with those who don't have a cell phone. I tend to remember most numbers I call regularly but I know from past experience how important it is to have them written down somewhere and made easily-available. Like.. at times of emotional trauma.

I'm thinking about when my son, then 6, needed to go directly from a doctor appointment to the hospital. I needed someone to look after my 3 year old. That would be my cousin/close friend who I phoned at least twice a week for years.. who has a very simple easy-to-remember phone number. The very one whose phone number would not formulate itself in my worried brain no matter how hard I tried. All I could come up with was the pediatrician's number which started with the same exchange. Luckily, her kids were patients of the same doctor and so her number was on file.

Keeping a written list of important contacts is indeed a very good idea.

MomQueenBee said...

My unreasonable fear is that I'll be in a wreck and unconscious, and the first responders will look at my insanely long list of contacts (hello, Christmas card vendor from 2002!) and not know whom to call. I've programmed my husband and Boy#1 to be ICE (in case of emergency) numbers, which I'm told is a standard abbreviation first responders know to look for. Although I'd prefer they tend to my unconsciousness before poking around on my phone, please.

Lin said...

I realized the other day that I don't know Joe's cell phone number by heart. Really. I had to pull the phone out to write the number down for someone. That is sad.

I miss the old days of knowing phone numbers in your head.

Kristina said...

With a lot of the smartphones, you can create a back up on your computer, so when you plug in your new phone, they are automatically reloaded onto your phone, which is useful. And honestly, I have my husband's number memorized, and my dads. And the important ones I are in Ryan's phone, or they are bound to call me at some point, and if they don't then...I suppose there is e-mail to get them again. I may take the time today to write down the top 15 numbers in case my phone explodes or something, but out side of that, I'm not real concerned. LOL

I take my cell phone out with me because of the whackos out there, I don't leave home without it. Ever. Simply for that reason, or the day I leave my phone will be the day I'm in a tragic car accident or something.

Eva Gallant said...

I was so happy to read that I'm not the only one who doesn't text, send email, surf the internet, and take photos with their cell phone. I have one, but I use it strictly to make phone calls when my regular phone is not with me.

Linda Myers said...

I almost always carry my phone. What if I fall?

My phone recently ate half my list. I posted on FB and got a few numbers, but for the rest I waited until they called me and then attached a name to the number.

john said...

Cel phones are evil ; the downfall of Western civilisation.

Brian (not the cat) said...

Passwords have replaced phone numbers in our brains, for the most part.

Anonymous said...

Brian, I disagree. I had a calm confidence in remembering phone numbers... but passwords? I always feel as though I am an ineffective safecracker.

Tabor said...

I depend totally on hubby's phone which records all the numbers. I have about 12 on my cell phone. I guess I should get more realistic here.

Baby Sister said...

Mamma has spoken's comment made me laugh. Smart thinking, writing down some numbers. I keep telling myself I'm going to do that...maybe I'll make it one of my Christmas break projects. If you have a phone that offers you Pepsi and chocolate chip cookies, I must get one!! ;)

Green Monkey said...

I'm guessing you don't have an iphone. if you don't its a good thing - its worse than crack. its the first thing I reach for in the morning (and I share a bed with handsome man and 2 adorable pets). its here, right here beside me - at the library. I'm trying to write and its annoying me. Lucky for me I can toss my phone out the window because every time I plug it to my laptop to charge it uploads my info - pictures, contacts, etc.

Love all things Betty! great that you are out there exercising. I forgot how to do that. Is it hard? Is there a book? How much does it cost?
xoMOnkeyME

Ms. A said...

Thank goodness I still count on my brain, what's left of it, for phone numbers. I'm really glad people are able to keep their same numbers now, because when they couldn't it was becoming a huge problem... every time they changed phones! The only reason I'm forced to remember their numbers, is because I hate using a cell phone, unless I have to.

jenny_o said...

I think Hilary, above, has a good point. Under stress, the numbers in our heads can just disappear. Good to have them written down. I carry a small, thin address book with all my important contacts in it. That way, too, if the cell is low on power I can access the numbers for landline use.

Madi and Mom said...

Hey BB
I'm guilty as charged too. Goodness me I never really thought about it. Good news is I still have an address book at home with all #'s in it...so if I can hobble home after a mishap...I'll be good to go.Happy Weekend,
Hugs Madi and Mom

Ali said...

I am a little surprised (yet actually happy) that so many peeps have said they don't have cell phones. We should start a revolution and get rid of them they're taking over I tell ya....
on the other hand... I use verizon and my contacts are programmed into the My Verizon page of the web so I can just download them to my phone should I lose the phone... however... i love it so much I would never ever let anything happen to it.. even though I would really like to live without it... so complicated I know!!!

Annie said...

Hate cell phones. When asked my number in a store, I didn't know it because I never use it and when I needed help out and no cell with me, I could not find a pay phone and I didn't know anyone's number anyway as it was all on the cell.
I think they have taken something from us.
I still remember numbers from years ago though.

welcome to my world of poetry said...

I only got a cell phone when I became a widow for emergency really as I'm epiletic. It is handy to phone my son in Spain also my daughter but don't use it that often.
Have a great week-end.
Yvonne.

Brian (not the cat) said...

You have a good point, Anonymous -- I am much better with numbers myself. They have friendly personalities, whereas passwords are strict authoritarians.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I was never good at memorizing phone numbers. My husband still keeps them in his head instead of his cell phone. I do have most of them written in my hard-copy address book but your point if quite valid. Take your cell phone on your walk next time even if it does flop in your pocket.

Ann said...

I had almost forgotten that there was a number attached to each of the names in my cell phone. I can't remember the last time I ever wrote a phone number down.

Joanna Jenkins said...

Hey Betty, First, I'm shocked at the bloggers who don't have a cell phone! I thought I was the last person on the planet to get one. Now that I do have one, I NEVER leave home without it. Not for the emergency numbers of who I'd call but because if I needed help I could call 911. I seriously never leave home without my phone (and it's always fully charged too) in case of an emergency. So PLEASE, when you're out running alone, take your phone. YOu never know when you might need it.

xoxox jj

PS I've become my mother. That's something she'd say.

Retired English Teacher said...

I can relate. My children get upset and are surprised that I don't know their cell phone numbers. I really must learn them. The only numbers I have memorized are my mother's home number, which she has had for over 35 years, and my husband's cell number. I would be in big trouble if I didn't have my cell phone.

Venassa said...

I can relate to this. I once had a flat tire in town, so I wandered around Wal-Mart waiting for my friend to come help me out. I lost my phone in Wal-Mart, so I had no way to contact her because I didn't memorize her number and she couldn't reach me. I was scared I was going to be stranded in Wal-Mart forever but we found each other. And my phone was found the next day. Moral of the story.. I need to remember some numbers in case of emergency.

Writer Lady said...

I've had those moments too. I don't run, but I blissfully allow myself to walk into situations that are dangerous. Once I even had a homeless person walk me home because it was after dark and I was in downtown LA.

Unknown Mami said...

My phone has stolen much of my brain's usefulness, but I have taken the precaution of downloading the information onto my computer. My computer has taken the rest of my brain's usefulness, but I love it so.

Emilie's daughter said...

I found your blog via "Just Nat". The name Bossy Betty cought my eye because here in Switzerland a very famous cook is called Betty Bossy. It is just a virtual person but she has tought the Swiss how to cook. Many cookery book exist, there is even a magazine since 1950 (if I am right) and in shops one can by products which were designed by Betty Bossi. Have a look here: http://www.bettybossi.ch/ xxx Christa

Out on the prairie said...

I have a terrible time with the numbers, I have three and never call myself so have a hard time remembering.