May 25, 2013
Written by Joe Pisani
Tuesday, 27 March 2012 23:00
Yesterday, the birds were chirping, the sun was shining, and I woke up to a new day with the hope of a surprise raise, an early retirement, and a winning Lotto ticket. Then, I looked out the window and wondered, “Why are all those yellow bags cluttering the street?”
It was the annual rite of spring — phone books scattered everywhere. Like crocuses, yellow bags mysteriously appear overnight in everyone’s driveway and stay there until the snow plow pushes them away because no one wants them. Even worse, they refuse to pick them up or dump them in the recycling bin.
In the olden days, we rejoiced to get a new phone book, which was as exciting as the “Farmer’s Almanac.” It was a cherished resource because it had YOUR name in it, and the entire family would gather around in amazement. “Look! There we are! Wait! They spelled our name wrong! Who the !@$#*! proofread this thing?”
Back then, I had relatives who would compare the listings from the year before to see who died, which was more entertaining than playing Angry Birds.
Having your name emblazoned in 6-point type, the size of dog fleas, among hundreds of thousands of other names, was the closest to celebrity status most of us would ever come in this lifetime, unless you got arrested and had your name emblazoned in the police blotter among hundreds of thousands of other criminals.
Nowadays, phone books are smaller, along with Snickers bars and obituaries, which leads me to wonder why the type is so tiny when so many Americans are entering their senior years.
Help is on the way, however. President Obama has directed Health and Human Services to provide plastic magnifiers, which your insurance company will pay for, to aid Baby Boomers with failing eyesight. And for an additional $99.99 a month, you can get a LARGE PRINT edition in your driveway. Just don’t run over it, or you’ll need a front-end alignment.
When I was a kid, phone books contained the families and businesses in your local community, but now you can find everyone up and down the East Coast, including your cousin in Bayonne, N.J., assuming you can find Bayonne in the book.
During this era of deregulation, designed to bamboozle the unwary consumer, we have more choices. Some people have Bell, others Dell, and others, Domino’s Pizza.
Even though deregulation was supposed to lower rates, it’s actually driving them up because of all the improvements, such as “caller ID,” which lets you see the charities soliciting you without having to answer the phone. This, of course, encourages them to call again the next night at dinnertime, and the night after and early Sunday morning.
Since everyone has smartphones, we don’t really need phone books because we have the Internet, where you can find your neighbor’s number, and for an additional $42.50, his arrest record, his DUIs and his W-2 form.
Plus, for an additional, additional fee, the phone company will discard your unwanted phone book on someone else’s lawn, probably mine.
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