I can remember a time, not so long ago, when if no one was home, the phone would just ring and ring and ring and eventually whoever was calling would figure it out and call back later. If it was really important they’d just have to track you down. Or wait. Either one was good.
Then, we got an answering machine and suddenly we’d never miss a call again – Dog got out? Bathroom lights left on? Ed McMahon got lost while trying to deliver one of those giant checks and needed directions? Good thing you left a message ’cause that needed seeing to. Eventually. When we got home and it was too late (for Ed, anyways).
Then, when I moved out I one-upped the family and got an answering machine that had a remote code – by punching a number code on the keypad of the phone you were calling from you could get your messages without even being home. Technology really was something! I could know before I even got home that I’d left the radio on all day or that the dog had been digging up the neighbor’s philodendron.
Then came the pager. I first got a pager when I was 22 or 23 and working at a job which insisted I be reachable 24 hours a day, seven days a week. I can remember driving around the pre-gentrification Hollywood searching desperately for a payphone that worked (most of them had the receivers torn off for some reason) or wasn’t occupied by a hooker trying to avoid a loitering charge, so I could return a page that I was just certain was the most important thing on earth (if it weren’t, why would they have paged me)?
Then, I got a cell phone. My first cell phone was from Airtouch in Westwood and the cement-block sized phone came with a plan which allowed me to talk for 20 minutes each month. So I saved the cellphone for emergencies and still ended up cruising the streets looking for payphones, but I bitched about having to drive around all the time and expose myself to whatever contagious microbe had set up housekeeping on the mouthpieces of public payphones because those fuckers just. wouldn’t. stop. paging. me. By this time that whole “911” pager code thing had come into fashion, so of course, every page was labelled “911”. Especially the pet-related ones.
Then came more and better cell plans and cell phones with speakers so not only did I not have to hunt down a payphone and get out of the car, I didn’t even have to hold the phone to my ear while I was driving, eating, reading the directions page of the call sheet and talking all at the same time.
Needless to say, by then I had ditched the pager. So inconvenient.
I started to bitch whenever I had to expend energy to actually hold the phone to the side of my head.
Then, I got a phone with different ring tones, so I could give different rings to work contacts, friends, family, bill collectors, former lovers, etc..
Soon, I started to bitch if I couldn’t tell who was calling me by the ring. Then, I got a phone that had a thing called “driving mode” where it would actually announce the name of the caller. After that, I started to bitch if I had to I.D. the caller by the ring instead of having the caller’s name announced for me like my life was some sort of badly-planned debutante ball.
Now, we have Bluetooth. Not only do I not have to hold the phone to my ear – I don’t even have to be tethered to said phone at all! It can be laying under dirty laundry in the backseat of the car and I can still answer it!
It’s not just for the car, though – I ride my bike a lot and now, when the phone rings, I don’t have to stop and dig in my backpack to find the phone before it goes to voice mail (I especially don’t want it to go to voicemail if it’s work), I just tap a button on the headset and answer the phone. Sweet.
This morning, as I rode the bike along Sunset with the early morning sun just breaking through the marine layer, past the Rite-Aid with the crazy lady in front and the hipsters staggering out of some all-night party in one of the Chateau Marmont’s suites, the phone rang and I didn’t even lose speed. I took one hand off the handlebars and hit the button.
Later, I found out from my friend that I can program the phone to respond to voice commands from the headset – so i can tap the headset, say a name and never even have to dig my phone out of the darkest corners of whatever bag it is that I’m carrying. I just have to be no more than 30 feet away from it.
Makes me wonder what I’ll be bitching about next. I love technology.
Filed under: life in LA, Non-Work, answering machine, bike, Bluetooth, car, cell phone, cult, law, phone, ride, technology