Although I am not a Neanderthal, my communication skills date back to the Stone Age's equivalent of the means used for personal and business contact. Not that long ago, for heaven’s sake, writing a letter by hand was “communication” and if one had a typewriter that was chi-chi enough.
At the workplace, stenos were typing letters (with carbon copies); telephones (personal calls only in an emergency, please) were for mostly local calls since long distance was very expensive. There was telex for the important stuff, telegrams for real urgency, Multilith machines for printing and the wonders of it all, it worked just fine. Letters took only three days from Vancouver to Toronto, instead of a week today - and all for 10-cent postage.
In a while came the fax machine: an amazing concept, allowing the transmittal of writing on paper through the phone lines. Who would have thunk?! Then a clunky, brick-sized device called cellphone made its debut, the Internet became a reality, email was sending messages through the ether and the world of communication was turned on its head.
My boss, at the time, just had to have one of those early contraptions and we would laugh watching him sitting in his car in the office parking lot, making calls on the mobile phone, rather than from the desk phone in his office. I did without one until frequent business travel made it necessary (although people travelled frequently in the past without such benefit) and my wife had one, as well, as an emergency contact for two elderly parents in our care. By then, our devices were tiny flip-phones, fit in the pocket and admittedly handy; getting used to a convenience is never difficult.
So much for history - right up until last week we had just one cellphone, taken by my wife, or me if one left without the other. Remember the cop show *NYPD Blues* on TV? Andy Sipowicz always pulled a two-way radio from the rack as he left the station. He didn’t have his own - like my wife and I with our shared cellphone.
The phone we had was the basic device made for telephone calls and text messaging, providing one wanted to waste time triple-stroking the number keys to get the right letter. This had to be a plain stupid phone since all the new ones are called smartphones. But since I am not a freaking bird, I don’t Tweet and the only Facebook I care about is a photo album on the bookshelf, those smart features were for the two-thumb texting and endless game-playing generation. Or so I thought.
And then the contract on our stupid phone expired and the sweet young thing at the phone-mart offered the latest touch-screen-type smartphone, with more icons than my computer and, because of the complexity, a tutorial session: one-on-one with a live person in the shop! “Can I make a phone call with this device?” I asked with appropriate wonder in my voice. Of course I could and send email, and flash up a map, if I am lost, and listen to music, and, and, and, endless joy. The deal? Free with a three-year contract.
Hooked like hungry fish, we got the “device” (that’s what the techies are calling it), and I am now waiting for my turn to fool around with it. I may have to wait a while - my wife will not stop playing “Angry Birds” on the darned thing.
MAY 2011 SENIOR LIVING MAGAZINE VANCOUVER & LOWER MAINLAND
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