Back in my day (am I too young to say that?) a person could simply dial 411, tell the operator a name and town and the dear woman would look it up for you. If memory serves, she would also dial the number and save a gal the painful task of having to push all of those buttons.
When they slapped on a small fee for performing these services, tightwads such as myself began to use phone books. We had them by every phone in the house and, as cell phones became more popular, made sure we kept one in the car.
My utilization of the phone book has caused much chagrin from my eye-rolling children. My, but how they scoff. They can’t believe I go to “all of that work.” Meanwhile, they push the “home” button on their smart phones and ask Siri to look up phone numbers for them. Apparently, their Siri likes my children more than my Siri likes me, because they can ask their Siri for any number at any time and she simply complies, and like the operators in the days of yore, their Siri even offers to dial the number for them —for free.
Meanwhile, my Siri tends to respond that I have no contacts by that name. (Duh! That’s why I’m asking you to look it up!) Or she’ll send me a list of 20 businesses by the same name in locations near and far and simply forget the “city” part of my request.
Although some people relish technology and bask in the simplicity their newfangled devices offer, the ease of finding phone numbers just isn’t so simple for me.
Take the other day, for instance, when Pat, my dearly beloved spouse, asked me if I happened to have a phone number for his good friend Bob.
One might wonder why my Pat didn’t have Bob in his own contact list, but my Pat has a dinosaur of a phone that “suits me just fine,” especially when he has me to do his bidding.
Sadly, I didn’t have Bob as a contact. Nor was Bob in the phone book, the yellow pages or (yes I still use it) the Rolodex. I gave Siri a good old college try simply because I’m a positive sort of person.
Within seconds she gave me the name of every Bob in our fair city, none of which had the last name asked of her.
Yet, I’m nothing if not resourceful, because when you need to call Bob, you need to call Bob.
I went to the online white pages and lo and behold, there was Bob! Now, before you go into celebration mode you should know this: they gave Bob’s hometown, age and the name of his spouse. You might ask, was there a phone number? Well, that’s going to be a no-sirree-Bob.
I could get Bob’s phone number, sure enough, for a meager monthly fee and a commitment to a six-month number-looking up membership. And that’s not all, phone fans. That small fee would also offer me a background check on Bob, list any traffic offenses and it might even let me know what the dear man had for dinner.
Just in case inquiring minds wanted to know.
Being a tightwad and not really interested in knowing Bob’s financial status and arrest records, I quickly terminated my online inquiry. Yet, Bob still needed calling and a girl has to do what a girl has to do. Therefore, I swallowed my pride and sought the assistance of one of our technological sons.
“Look up the number for Bob,” my young son asked of his Siri. Then, with an emphatic eye-roll, he rattled off the number and walked away. Sometimes I really miss the good ol’ days.
Lori Clinch is the mother of four sons and the author of the book “Are We There Yet?” You can reach her by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.