Tuesday, November 10, 2009

New Technology, Not Better Technology

by Julia Buckley
We have gone through a lot of telephones in my family. Home phones tend to be expensive these days, but they are cheaply made (cell phones are a different category, and they're for another blog post). I'm talking about the landline--the good old house phone which, in our case, has always been mounted on the wall.

But the last few phones we had were so light and insubstantial that if we tried to travel while talking--travel,say, across the room--the phone got yanked out of its moorings and clattered onto the floor. Our most recent phone fell and clattered so often that I indulged in some insane moments, yelling at it while it lay in all its cheapness on our hard wood floor.

These events gave rise to a wave of nostalgia, and I indulged in memories of my 1960s and 70s era rotary-dial phones: big, heavy, substantial and ever reliable, these phones were soon phased out for the newer models, because lighter is better, right?

I was not convinced. I've blogged before about planned obsolescence, and my phone experience put me on that soapbox once again.

This time, though, I followed my nostalgia to Ebay, where I found the lovely rotary model in the photo. I purchased it for ten dollars, and it now sits regally on my desk. It works, by the way, and every time I dial it I thrill to the sound of the dialing disk as it slides back into place.

What if I'm on the phone, but I want to wheel my chair over to the other desk--the one where I pay the bills? No problem. This jumbo telephone isn't going anywhere--and it has nice little rubber feet that help to hold it in place.

So I say hurrah for Ebay and for the chance to reclaim some of the value that has been lost in the age of expediency. I highly recommend my rotary dial, and if you call me, you can bet I'll answer you on that one, and not the little cheapie on the wall.


Dru said...

I look at the appliances we had pre-technologically driven and they were built to last no matter how many times they were accidentally dropped.

Paul Lamb said...

Why even have a land line at all? They are a vestige of a clumsy past.

Alan Orloff said...

So that's what happened to my old phone! (If you happen to run across my Betamax, let me know.)

I still listen to vinyl LPs. I love the hisses and pops.

Julia Buckley said...

Dru, I'm with you. (That's a poem). Things were just made with better quality--I guess it all comes down to $$ and how much profit people want to make.

Paul, I can't give up my landline because I haven't yet found the cell phone with voice quality as good as the regular phone. And it drives me nuts when my siblings call me on their cells and I have to keep saying "I can't hear you."

Alan, that's cool about the LPs. I'm surprised your stereo still works!

G.M. Malliet said...

Our kitchen wall phone has started falling off the wall every time we use it, which makes for some interestingly chaotic conversations.

But it has lasted 20 years so I guess I can't complain.

Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

I have a land line, but almost never use it and have the barest of services. It's just there because of my internet service. I'd get rid of it but the phone company said they'd have to raise my internet rates if I did. Go figure. It's also tied into the lock on the front door downstairs. My home phone is the cheapest cordless I could find at Target.

But I still have a stereo and vinyl. And the burnt orange crockpot my mother gave me 37 years ago. And the Kitchen Aid Center in baby puke yellow. All of which get used regularly and work just fine.

Cricket McRae said...

Love that phone! There's something comforting about holding one of those old receivers in your hand and speaking directly into it instead of a tiny mic located someplace in the vicinity of your face.

I also have a turntable in the living room, use Grandma's enameled cast iron cookware every day and eat off Mom's vintage Fiestaware. But then again, I spin yarn and make soap, too -- in between checking my email on the I-phone. ; - )

G.M. Malliet said...

Cricket - I always feel like I have to hold the cell phone away from my ear and shout into it, like granny yelling into one of those old crank wall phones. I just can't quite believe that the mic, several inches away, can pick up my voice.

Julia Buckley said...

And guess what, GM? It can't. At least not as well as the mic that's right next to your mouth. I know, because I'm that annoying deaf person who yells "what?" all through the call.

Glad to hear you all have your retro moments. :)

Carola Rummens said...

Hi Julia
I love your 'new'phone. Those ones always work. We bought once a even older one. The dial is made of copper and it also has a copper beel which you can hear ringing throughout the whole hous. That is so convienient :) I cherish that one too.

Carola Rummens said...

sorry I meant a copper bell in my previous post.