Writer & Eternal Student

Rotary Phones

Published: March 24, 2006

I’m waiting for the cable guy to arrive to fix my phone service. What? Did I just say, cable guy? Boy things sure have changed since I was a child. Back then we used rotary phones.

Black Rotary Phone

For you young folks, I’m about to go retro. The more mature crowd may understand what I’m talking about. Remember the black phone with the 10-hole dial in which you would insert your finger and pull it around until you hit the metal crescent finger stopper. You’d remove your finger and let the dial tic, tic, tic, tic back to its original position. The number of tics depended on the number dialed. Then you would repeat that 6 more times (or 10 if you called long-distance).

Those were the days. If you accidentally dialed a wrong number, you’d get to repeat the process all over again. Imagine, taking almost a minute to dial someone. Nowadays with speed dialing, voice recognition, caller ID, call forwarding, call waiting and speakers, you barely have to touch the phone.

Even better, now my phone runs through my cable modem through a provider called Vonage. It’s so cheap that I have two phone lines and a fax line for less than half the price of one old fashioned landline. What an achievement. This is great! When it works… For some unknown reason, my phone stopped working. No, wait; it didn’t stop working, it just started to underwork (like one of my children – not mentioning any names). A telephone conversation sounded like it took place in a wind tunnel operated by a huge slow-motion fan. Every other syllable of all conversations were lost.

Green Rotary Phone

Because my phone service goes through my cable modem, calling tech service was very interesting. Before I was blessed with speaking to a person, I had to decipher every other syllable of a mechanical voice telling me to resolve my issue by going to their web site. Well, my phone isn’t working properly because my cable modem or lines to/fro have a problem. I kept getting bumped off the internet. Argh!

Finally, I guess the wind blew in an easterly direction at 40 miles per hour just long enough to temporarily massage the cable lines to fix the problem and allow me to understand the person on the other end of the line. In essence, I have a weak signal. After the mandatory modem reset did not work, I earned the right to be taken seriously (You’re not taken seriously if you don’t reset your modem).

The cable company ran a diagnostic from their office and realized that my signal was weak. It could be something inside or outside of the house. So, I ran around the house checking every connection I could find (I even went into the ‘spider room’ downstairs). I tightened everything. My TV reception improved, but my phone was still choppy and my internet was intermittent.

Finally, customer service agreed with me that I needed a technician to come out to the house. The earliest available appointment was two days away. That wasn’t too bad. We all have cell phones (4 people in a house and 4 different cell phones – so sad), and I could use my laptop at Barnes and Noble for a couple of days.

The cable guy showed up, diagnosed the problem as too many splices from the outside of the house to the modem so for $40 he ran another line from outside directly to my modem. Problem solved… er, not really. I’ve got a weak signal again. Oh, yet another appointment with the cable guy, another day of waiting.

Red Rotary Phone

Oh, I miss the days of old. Back when we used rotary phones, if my phone went down, I would go next door to my neighbor, call the phone company, speak to an operator (no push buttons so I couldn’t press 1 for English or press 0 to speak to an operator or pound to repeat the options), set an appointment, wait from morning ’til night for the serviceman to fix my phone and I’d be in business.

Currently, I have a cell phone, two home phones, a fax line, laptops, PDA and internet access. So many means of communication, but I’ve still got to wait for the service person to come (again). Now that’s what I call progress.

And that’s my two cents and I'm sticking with it!


About the Author: I am Felicia A. Williams, a wife, mom, grandma, writer and eternal student.

Last Modified: 1 December 2020

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