Wednesday, July 29, 2009

If San Francisco Calls... Tell Him I'm Busy

Telephones have come a long way. On this day in 1914, transcontinental phone service was established (though the big photo opt call with Alexander Graham Bell didn't occur until later that January). Up until then, it was all carrier parrots, pony express riders transporting voices in mason jars (or "messages in a bottle" if you prefer), and giants getting paid to bellow "calls" back and forth from the Rockies to the Appalachians. And poor Utah, mercilessly mocked for being the nation's largest "dead zone" in Verizon ads of the time (then known as Verizon Wireplus).

Now my voice instantaneously travels to a satellite in space before getting beamed back down to ask my friend in France, "Whatcha doing? Huh? Rien? Cool." And I get frustrated because the connection is spotty. I don't think I'm properly awed by what is occurring. My voice is going... to... space. Space! Every phone call I make should start with singing a hymn for science and technology. Instead I grumble about having to call someone back. Someone on the other side of the world. Boo-hoo.

Granted, all this has lead to the death of the proper letter. Letter writing is so old fashioned, you might as well be using ink pots and wearing a monocle while doing so. If it weren't for bills and the forests of junk mail delivered everyday, the USPS would wither and fade. They try so hard to get attention with their "fun" commemorative stamps, but in the end we all know that's just a desperate attempt to drum up business. Sad really.

Iphones, Skype, rotary cell phones... the list of our fancy-shmancy communication devices could go on and on. Now if only they could spend some time trying to improve the sound quality of the phones. Mine still sounds like Graham Bell's original model.
posted by jw