If Mr. Bell Could See Us Now!

Last month, along with my telephone bill, came a listing of the many services available from Ameritech. In addition to call waiting which I already have, I can order call forwarding, conference calling, caller I.D, voice mail as well as a device which would allow me to call back whomever calls with just a push or two of some buttons. What a selection!
Years ago, before automatic dialing, we had to tell a real live operator the number we wanted. There was something nice about hearing a human voice inquiring how she could be of service. I believe it was easier, too, to remember the abbreviation for exchanges such as Crestview or Taylor plus five digits than to recall ten or seven numbers as we do today.
Our kids take it for granted that they can use the phone any time they please, but we didn't have that luxury when we had two or four party lines. My bubbie used to get extremely aggravated by "that yenta, Mrs. Levi," who was on our party line. "She minds everyone else's business but her own," Bubbie complained. Sometimes, though, Bubbie seemed to be quite interested in Yenta Levi's discussions, listening wide-eyed, hand covering the mouthpiece, to the conversation on the other end. If caught, she'd explain it away by saying, "I thought I heard my name mentioned."
It's very convenient, I know, to have the use of your telephone whenever you want it, yet I can't help but wonder if we've become more attached to machines than to people. I'm sure there will be even greater advancements in the future. One thing I know for certain. I will NEVER have a device that allows me to be seen by the people who call. I certainly wouldn't want anyone to observe me at noon still in my night clothes, because it just might spoil the illusion how hardworking a gal I really am.

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