Techno Shock

Daughter has been on our phone plan until now, and is taking a step toward independence and is getting her own phone plan. It has been four years since we upgraded our phones. We are helping  her financially with the transition. After reviving from the sticker shock of how much a new iPhone costs, I thought about my own experiences in elementary school getting trained by Ma Bell in proper phone use.

Does anyone else remember phone company reps coming to school and teaching phone etiquette and how to operate rotary phones? I remember it happened in about Grade 3.  The phones were tan and were desk models. They even brought in a slimline phone.  I was green with envy. I thought the technology was cool, since the only phone we had hung on the  kitchen wall.  I can’t imagine such training in the schools these days.

How do you learn how to use new technology?  How did you learn to use phones and  computers?  Where do you think this technology is going?  

69 thoughts on “Techno Shock”

  1. We didn’t get Ma Bell trainers in our schools. I do, however, have some memories of early phones.
    * There would be one phone in a household. In the late 1950s some homes added second phones, but that was a real luxury.
    * Customers didn’t own phones but rented them from the phone company.
    * It was illegal to use equipment other than Bell Laboratory products.
    * Stylish Slimline phones could be rented, but at hideously high prices.
    * If you wanted a long phone chord, that too could be rented at an exorbitant price.
    * When you picked up the phone to place a call, a human being (always female) would say “Number, please.” She would connect you to the number you requested.
    * Many phones were on party lines. If you picked up when another party was on your line, you could hear the conversation. If someone talked too long, you could bark at them and tell them to hang up so you could call. Gossips commonly listened in one other folks’ calls.
    * Long distance calls were extremely expensive. Worst of all were long distance calls directed to a particular person, not necessarily the person who picked up.
    * Because long distance calls were so costly, some people were obliged to “call collect.” The person receiving the call would decide if they wanted to pay for it. College students, for example, always called collect.
    * My cheapskate grandmother used a scheme each time we visited her (about 200 miles from our home in Ames). We would call her number collect and ask for George Grooms (my father). That would be a code to tell her we got home safely. She would always refuse the charge, for the fact we made the call was proof that our family had survived another trip on Iowa’s narrow country roads.
    * The phone company was a monopoly you never wanted to fight, and many of its programs reflected the arrogance of monopolies. Phone companies had customer service agents, but their job was just to tell you their version of the rules. Like it or lump it; they weren’t in business to take static from customers. Their imperious attitude is now forgotten, although if you listen to Lily Tomline as Ernestine you get a sense of how things once were.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I remember the phone etiquette presentation in the school auditorium when I was in the third grade. I especially remember the demonstration of the “10 ring rule.” A student volunteer was asked to go to the back of the auditorium and wait for the phone, up on stage, to ring. Then, when the phone rang, we counted the number of rings before the student could get to the phone.

      I don’t know if it’s still true, but until recently you could take any of that obsolete, antique phone equipment and, if you could plug it into the system, it would still function as it always had. The system retained the ability to accommodate several generations of equipment at once. No engineered obsolescence. The same should be true of modern equipment. As long as the device still works, it should be able to function at its level of capability in the system.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Like Steve I don’t ever remember being taught phone etiquette. We had a big black model most of my life growing up and at my house we were required to answer the phone “Carter’s residence, _______ (your first name) speaking”.

    My father didn’t like to have anyone call the house after 8 p.m. and he could be a little obnoxious if one my friends called so my younger sister and I took a very unusual step. We saved up our money for a little bit and we got our own phone line installed upstairs where our bedrooms were. It was very unusual at the time to have a second separate line in the house but it helped a lot our child-parent relationship. My mother must have agreed that this was good for the family because after the phone was installed she never took the full amount of the monthly charge off of our allowance.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I remember those school room lessons. In 1955, when we moved to Redwood Falls, the Bell Telephone Company was just switching from 3-digit phone numbers to 5-digit numbers (a precursor to the 7-digit numbers to come). Some people outside of town still had no-dial phones (a different phone company!), so the lessons were relevant and important to teach people to use the whole phone numbers.

    Just last week someone posted one of those old films on YouTube. There are several I found searching there, some of kids trying to figure out how to use the old fashioned dial phones.

    Here’s the link to a 1940s training phone. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p45T7U5oi9Q

    Liked by 2 people

  4. We had lessons by our teachers, perhaps lesson plans supplied. We had a local phone company owned by US Steel until about 1955 I suppose. The lessons aligned exactly with what my mother taught. One of the hard and fast rules was the caller identified her or himself. If a caller asked who is this, you asked them to identify themselves. If they did not, you hung up. No one today identifies themselves when they call. All of Sandy’s friends have about the same voice and are offended when I ask who is calling, a step I now always include. Her cousin with a foghorn voice always identifies herself, taught the same lessons as Sandy and I. Now her friends call and try to wheedle info about Sandy’s state of mind, which she does not want me to answer, nor do I want to give it.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. It is interesting how phone etiquette has evolved. When I was a kid a phone call usually meant one person was reaching out to contact a friend. I suppose an analogy would be the postal system when it mostly dealt with personal letters and not tons of advertising pitches and bill statements. Then folks learned to use the phone system to make money, and we end up where we are today.

    I still struggle to not answer phone calls, for it feels rude. My sister’s kids, having grown up in different times, basically never pick up when someone calls. They wait until they can collect a bunch of phone messages and decide which ones to call back. My phone service now includes Caller ID, and I can’t imagine functioning without it. At least half the calls I get are robocalls. When the phone rings I won’t pick up unless I know the caller . . . but, gee, that still feels rude to someone who grew up thinking phone calls were all about friends getting in contact with each other.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Robocalls, solicitation calls and scam calls represent well over half of the calls we get and I suspect that its partially because of the age demographic we’re in. Who besides a subset of seniors answers the phone indiscriminately? Those nonpersonal predatory calls have largely destroyed the phone as a means of communication. Even on my cell phone, easily 75% of the calls I get are solicitations, or I assume they are because I don’t answer them and they never leave a message. Even entities with which I have some sympathy use robocalling for solicitations. No doubt they do it for economic reasons, but it comes across to me as disrespect.

      I finally got a smart phone when my twelve year old Nokia finally died. I resisted upgrading as long as I could, not from cheapness, exactly, but because I don’t like talking on the phone in general and I resent the expectation that I should always be reachable. With my old phone, I would often go for a week between uses except to pull it out of my pocket to see that a caller was not someone I knew. It was a pay-as-you-go phone and I could get by with 500 minutes a year. I didn’t expect that my phone habits would change with a smart phone and for the most part they haven’t, except now in addition to being expected to be constantly in contact by phone, I’m expected to be constantly in contact by text.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. The story about the guy who said upon seeing the telegraph delivery boy on his front step said
      Oh please sing it to me. I always wanted to get a singing Telegraph

      So the boy got down on one knee , al Jolson style spread his arms and belted out… your sister rose is dead…

      Liked by 1 person

    2. My brother coming home on leave would sent telegrams because they were free of military personnel coming home. The telegram would go to the local phone company, which was also the telegraph, and they would call us to tell us the message about when he was arriving,

      Like

    3. My father spent years telling people that I would never be able to work for someone else and when I started at B. Dalton Bookseller he told me if I made it five years, he’d kneel down at my feet with laurel leaves. When I hit 5 years I sent him a telegram saying “Five years at B.Dalton today, awaiting your arrival with laurels.” Well worth the expense.

      Liked by 5 people

    4. I got one from Santa once. There was some sort of special set up, apparently, where parents could order a Christmas telegram. I think I still have it somewhere in a scrapbook.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I think it’s sprint that offers an new i10 free with a new line for her

    If she in the city sprint should be fine but check the cost for data. Young people watch tv more than they call with it

    Liked by 1 person

        1. Good to know. The problem for her was that she was on our plan, she is in Tacoma, and she had to get herself off our plan without us being there. I had be available with passwords and pin numbers to give my assent, and to respond to texts from Verizon. It would have been too diffucult to take the number to another carrier at that point.

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  7. Husband had a revelation this morning. He has always been very anxious about not letting his cell phone battery get too low. He believed that if the battery ever went dead, all the information in his phone would be lost forever. I finally was able to explain how this works. He is very relieved.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It reminds me of the Thurber story about an elderly relative who was afraid that if a lightbulb was missing from a socket, electricity would leak out all over the house.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. When my parents were young many telephones had separate earpieces and mouthpieces. Some sat on desks, looking like elaborate candlesticks. Others were mounted on the wall and had cranks to spin them into life.

        There was a famous practical joke in my grandparents’ home, Manchester, Iowa. Some wag phoned all over town to warn folks that the phone company would be “cleaning out the phone lines” at a certain time on a certain day. Following his instructions, wives all over town mounted little bags on their phones to catch the dust they were told would otherwise fly into the air in their homes.

        Liked by 3 people

  8. This. This is me tying to teach my Mother-in-law how to use a computer.
    My dad never even wanted to try.
    Mom does pretty good.

    I did not know the phone company came in and taught that. Very interesting.
    I’m a big fan of the keep-pushing-buttons-until-it-works process. Long as you don’t hit ‘delete’ you’re mostly ok.

    Liked by 4 people

  9. My dad always had trouble dialing a phone. He’d get mixed up on the numbers and get frustrated. It wasn’t dylexia or anything, just a butter fingers of sorts.
    He would often ask Mom to call so and so.

    I have troubles too. It makes me think of my dad.
    And the other day I had a bit of revelation: computer or calculator keypad numbers and phone keypad numbers are opposite.
    Phones start with 1,2,3 across the bottom.
    Calculators have 7,8,9 at the bottom.
    I think that’s part of my problem.

    Doesn’t explain Dads though.

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    1. I hate calling, the same issue. I am worse with the phone keys than with a keyboard. Cell phones are terrible for me. I often fumble them trying to swipe it to answer.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. My tech learning mostly comes from my kids. When I had an office manager he was good at teaching me. Now I do YouTube, various lessons available on the technology source itself and ultimately my kids. I could should add an hour or two a week to just learning for myself. Just learning the possibilities of the phone or I pad or computer is enough but I also learn amazon, ebay, instagram, Facebook , Twitter etc. I suspect it will get easier to plug and play updates in info stuff. I am impressed at the ability of the geeks to fine tune the smallest details to work perfectly, the trick is to learn how to push 5e buttons. Remember when they told us they were putting hashtags and astricks on there because they would do something in the future? I remember wondering what they could possibly do. Today I wonder what they can’t do.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. On the same party line: Birkholz one long and three short. Birkland one long and two short. We both answered either ring and quickly hung up if it was not for us.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. how many people total sharing the same line. my relatives in fargo had party lines in 63 or 64 but i think it was them and another person. now that i think of it i am not sure at all that there werent more . i was 8 or 9 and was surprised that the phone rang and when you picked it up there was someone on there. my parents told me to stay off but man was it tempting

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    1. Beside the fact that self checkouts are dependent on bar codes and anything you might have to check out (like produce) without a bar code would tie up the process, I resent the expectation that I can be enlisted to work as a check out person for free. If the store offered a discount for self check out, I still wouldn’t do it, but it would be more equitable.

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    2. thats where i catch the stuff priced on special on the shelf that is not on the register. takes 5 minutes to get me confirmed and then they dont switch it for all the other poor suckers.
      i suggest a system where if the whistle blower catches them he/she gets all the proceeds for overcharged customers since the sale was instigated. like politics there is no consequence for slime balls getting caught.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. A couple of the grocery chains used to have a policy that if you caught them overcharging you from a scanned barcode, you could get that item for free. I got a lot of free stuff that way. If I got an item for free, sometimes I’d go back a day or two later and buy the same thing, to see if they’d corrected the error. Many times I’d get the item free multiple times.

        They all stopped doing that.

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  12. Keypad math
    123
    456
    789
    Each diagona totals 15. Totals for middle column and middle row each equal 15.
    Total of each three rows is 6, 15, 24 which totals 45
    Total of each three columns is 12, 15, 18, which totals 45.
    Total of four corners is 20. Total of diagonal square 2+6+8+4 is 20.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So????? You lost me. I have no idea what to do with that information.
      (I’m not trying to be difficult, but I fail to see how that’s helpful.) What am I missing?

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  13. OT – The Senate just voted 50-48 to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the SCOTUS. I’m so damn disgusted, angry, and incredulous. Please just ignore me. I’m not going to be making any sense for some time to come.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. We received an email from Verizon telling us that our daughter’s assumption (Verizon’s word) of the phone account was complete. I thought assumption was such an odd term. It puts in mind the Assumption of the Virgin Mary into heaven! I suppose the process involved the Cloud in one way or another.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. At this point if it’s a totally new item, I find or hire a young person to show me the ropes. That’s how we got our new laptop up and running…

    Unless, that is, I can find Barb P. one of the old college friends from my reunion. Man, I wish I could import her whenever – she was even going to teach me to text, but we ran out of time. Also I understand it’s pretty tricky with a flip phone.

    I did manage to teach myself how to download and organize photos, with only a little help. Now I just need TIME to do that.

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  16. I came of age just as home computers were showing up in the marketplace. I got my first personal computer early, so I’ve had nearly 40 years to learn how to use them. But that also means I started on computers at a time I was afraid pushing the wrong key would kill the machine. While I’ve tried to gain comfort with computers, it isn’t a natural fit. My daughter has better instincts and she can solve about half of the problems that I can’t work out alone. And then it comes down to stubborn pride. I waste a ton of time struggling with issues she or some other computer-literate person might solve, and yet I want to do it myself. It does help to know YouTube has an astonishing number of educational videos to view (on computing, health technology or any other challenge).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. you tuybe also has idiots telling you to do what they do which is wrong.
      like the guy at the gas station. they dont mean to give bad info. its just who they are.

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  17. I’m not fond of talking on the phone. I don’t remember ever phoning my best friend in high school, yet somehow we managed to hang out and do stuff quite a bit. I’m not sure how we managed that, maybe just walked over to each other’s house and talked about what to do.

    Now we have to talk on the phone cuz she lives in Vermont and I live in Minnesota, but I like the fact that I can communicate with people without talking on the phone (e.g. texting, email, facebook, and my new favorite caringbridge). I don’t think I was ever taught proper phone etiquette.

    For new technology, I learn it by either having someone show me what to do – for example, my kids taught me how to do facebook and helped me when I got my first smartphone (which I still have) – or figuring it out on my own. Switching from PC to Mac was tough, but now I’m not sure I could switch back.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. I remember that telephone class in school. I think one of the things it incorporated was also reiterated on commercials, advising us to “wait at least 10 rings for your party to answer.” Who knows where in the house or yard someone might be when the one phone in the house rings? I also remember that we had a party line for a few of my early years.

    I had an great aunt who lived into her 90s and had a version of the same phone number very nearly her whole life. It changed from, I suppose a 3-digit version to a 2-letter prefix plus 1 digit plus 4 digits (MI 8-7798), then the 2 letters were changed to digits (698-7798) and finally to the 10-digit area code plus number ((612)698-7798). She lived within about a 6-block radius until she moved to a nursing home.

    My mother has always hated talking on the phone, it may be an actual phone phobia. She’ll do almost anything to avoid it. My father died at 47 and she was thrust into things she was not prepared for or comfortable with, when he passed away. To avoid calling the IRS, Social Security, the bank, or any number of agencies and businesses, she would drive to wherever they had a local office. Of course she never made an appointment, because that would involve calling, so she’d sit all day in their waiting room until everyone who had an appointment had been served, this sometimes required a return visit the next day. Calling friends and family isn’t any easier for her. She fears she will call at a bad time, and nothing can convince her that people will let her know if it’s not convenient to talk. If someone calls her and it’s not a good time for her, she’ll talk until they end the call, even if it means a pan of pasta water boils over (or dry) while she’s on the phone. It would be rude to tell them they are not her highest priority. In her less filtered, and hard of hearing, old-age, she has at least learned to hang up on solicitors and when she has no clue what the other person is saying. I have most of her medical and business calls come to my phone. The voice mail message where she and her husband live now, says “…please call us back later, we do not check messages.” Neither of them can decipher voice messages, so this seems to be working fairly well. They have the free-to-veterans-and-spouses captioned phone, but have never managed to learn to use it, even though it works the same as the type of desk phone they had for years.

    Rant ends here. Sorry.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I am always fond of the phone numbers that start with letters. My current number would start with CA for Capitol. My childhood phone number started with a DU, for Dupont. I would point out, though, the a 698 number would be MY, not MI. MI stood for Midway. It would be 64 on the telephone dial. I’m not certain what the MY stood for.

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  19. I think everyone has preferences on relationship technologies. Whenever I meet someone new I’d like to chat with I try to identify that person’s preferred way of talking.

    Quite a few folks love phone calls. I fall just short of hating them, mostly because I sometimes say profoundly stupid things while yakking on the phone.

    I particularly dislike Twitter and feel it is emblematic of much that I find disgusting about our current culture. Most people don’t have interesting things to say if they reflect before speaking, so it seems bizarre that we have a whole way of communicating based on from-the-gut first thoughts. And another reason for hating Twitter is that loathsome person in the White House whose Tweets are a national scandal.

    I adore email. It’s my preferred way of communicating with friends. That’s hardly surprising since I am a writer and have modest touch-typing skills.

    I was in a remarkable relationship once that soared when we texted each other on Skype. I’ve never enjoyed Skype when communicating with anyone else. It was a perfect way for us to chat, for our Skype texts moved briskly and yet there was that tiny bit of time to think before saying something. It was a perfect way to communicate . . . with that one person.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I left out one important way of communicating, which is face-to-face. That doesn’t belong in a post centered on technology, but I need to mention it as another way of communicating that is favored by some folks.

      While I’d rather talk face-to-face than communicating any other way, it is just one form of talking for me. But of the very closest friends I’ve had in life, two of them (both men) were great face-to-face but totally incapable of connecting with me when we weren’t looking at each other. I’ve never understood that. When I was with those people, our connection was intense and joyful. When we went back to living in different places, those guys could not bring themselves to write, call or send a carrier pigeon to me. It was face-to-face or nothing!

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  20. If any one has access to the apple store in your part of the world the courses are fantastic. They are so good at what they do even if you never thought you would have a use for that the ideas once presented don’t go away and you end up plugging in spreadsheet stuff, film editing, time organizers reminders echo stuff, it’s an amazing world, or try you tube or one of the companies that offers knowledge based stuff. EdX.com comes to mind again. College level courses on technology or virtually anything else you may want to learn.

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