Over the weekend, we walked past a phone booth and it immediately caught Annabel’s eye. “Mom, look at that! A little playhouse!” We stopped so she could fold open the door and go inside. “What’s THAT?” she asked, pointing at the phone on the wall. OMG my child does not know what a regular phone looks like.
I tried to explain to her what a pay phone is. “But…why wouldn’t people just use their iPhones?” Because our dinosaur hooves couldn’t make iPhones work in the 80s and 90s, duh. I told her about how, when I was in junior high and high school, I relied completely on pay phones to get picked up after sports and school events. I’d call my house collect, but I’d tell the operator my location instead of my name. Then she’d say to whoever answered, “I have a collect call from, ‘please get me at the school gym,’ will you accept the charges?” Annabel was totally unimpressed by my dime-saving scam.
“So, Grandma couldn’t text you when she had a question?” This is when I had to explain to her about pagers. Yes, I had a pager. Who did I think I was? I don’t even know, but I somehow convinced my parents that I needed a pager…although, now that I think about it, the only people who ever actually paged me on it were my parents so maybe it wasn’t such a hard sell. Trying to explain a pager to a child of this generation is difficult.
Me: So grandma would call my pager’s number, and then she’d type in a number to call her on, and that would show up on my pager.
Annabel: Why couldn’t you just answer your pager?
Me: Because it wasn’t a phone. It could only display a message.
Annabel: Why didn’t Grandma just say her message then?
Me: Because the message could only be numbers.
Annabel: That’s silly.
RIP, Little Pager.
I didn’t even bother going into pager codes. (07734 143 6000 843) (valuable space in my brain is taken up by pager codes).
Annabel knows our phone numbers in case of emergency, but this made me realize that I really need to show her how to use an ACTUAL, non-smart phone. And while I’m at it, I should show her how to turn on the TV without the remote, how to roll down a window with a hand crank, and how to check me into a retirement home.
I work in a Children’s Hospital in Australia and we STILL use pagers. Crazy. And so frustrating to have to GO TO A PHONE TO REPLY! One day we will catch up…
I’m screaming over your last line! BAHAHA!!
Hospitals still use pagers all the time (in addition to cell phones…and regular landlines!) so not a total RIP.
But, I’ve been teaching my kids how to use our landline (which we really only have for them) and OMG. It’s a portable to there are two ways to dial. You can either dial the number and then hit “talk” or you can hit “talk” and then dial the number. Trying to get kids to understand that they need a dial tone? It’s blowing their minds. I only realized this was an issue when, on a practice run I did with them, my son tried calling my cell phone by just punching the numbers in but never hitting “talk”. I was sitting in the next room with my cell and my cell was not ringing and after several confusing minutes of my son insisting that he dialed the right number and me insisting he must not have, I realized the issue. Dial tone.
This is a scream! “our dinosaur hooves” bahahaha! My kids are older, but still the thought of not having cell phones is one they don’t understand.
Great post – so true and so funny.
I’m pretty excited we were able to purchase my Dad’s old pick-up that he drove while I was a kid. Not only do we have something that was once his filled with memories, my kids can now use a hand crank car window!
Hilarious but jolting! Yes, I remember the moment my older daughter (then 10) wanted a cell phone. Trying to bolster her argument, she asked when I first got a cell phone. I said when I was 30, after she was born. That silenced her for a bit! Then my girls found out that my family didn’t have a computer growing up. They thought we must have been “poor.”
I used to do the same thing calling my parents collect to pick me up. LOL!
Kristen in CO says:
Such a brilliant life hack before we knew what hacks were!
Thankfully my daughter can use a regular phone, but it’s a rotary phone LOL. We have an 1940’s (not hooked up) rotary phone displayed in our living room and she loves to use it. Although if it came to having to dial an actual non iphone, I have no idea if she would know how!
Your post did remind me of something funny that happened this weekend. My daughter was playing with barbies the one day and came out of her room holding a little plastic piece. She said “Mom, what is this?” and handed the piece to me. Well lo and behold it was a little plastic barbie walkman from when I was her age. I tried explaining it to her; “It’s a walkman” “A what?!” “It used to play tapes” “Huh?!!” (cue me realizing she thinks tape as in scotch tape) “Um, it’s this plastic case that plays music that has negative like film inside that… (now she is looking at me like I am nuts); you know what kid. You’re unintentionally making me feel old.” To that she just laughed and laughed and then said “But I know what a record is!”
This is fantastic. I used my dinosaur hooves back in the 90s to dial the phone I had on my own, private line, complete with an extra-long phone cord so I could talk outside my room. Cutting edge, I tell you…
My daughter wanted to find a business when we were on vacation and out of cell range. The house we were staying in had the local yellow pages. I handed it to her and she was so confused about how the yellow pages worked.
My mom is older and refuses to use a computer we got her and doesn’t want a smartphone, only uses a prepaid. She called me the other day, “Honey, can you look in your phone book for the number to a plumber.” Me: “Mom I haven’t owned a phone book in 5 years, I’ll google it though.”
I relate to this post way too much. I too had a pager (and I had the same thought as you when I read this post–“who did I think I was?”). There was no reason for me to have one except every other person in my high school did, so I needed one too
And I definitely laughed out loud at the “dinosaur hooves” statement. Hilarious!
Heather, I love your pay phone hack!
I work at a hospital in the U.S., and everyone still uses pagers, although many doctors also communicate on their smartphones and have apps that help with charting and other tasks. I suspect giving everyone a phone would be a massive project (as anything involving patient data and 5,000 clinicians is) and probably cost more per person, so nobody’s too excited to take it on.
At my high school in the late 90s/early 2000s, not only did we rely on a pay phone to communicate with our parents, but the phones were turned OFF during school hours for reasons I still don’t understand. Also, pagers were not allowed; the rumor was that the administration thought only drug dealers used pagers. So there was no texting, “I forgot my science project, please bring it.” You just weren’t going to talk to your parents until after school, unless you were sick enough to go to the nurse’s office and she called them. If your parents REALLY needed to get ahold of you, they could call the school office and leave a message, and the office would page your classroom over the intercom, and you might, maybe, maybe, be allowed to leave class, get the message and call your parents back. I can only recall this happening to me once in 13 years of public school.
So when I see the occasional headline about a kid getting suspended for texting Mom during English class, I’m not too sympathetic
I no longer have anyone’s number memorized, since the home numbers I grew up with no longer exist. If I accidentally locked my phone and my keys in my car, I’d be screwed.
Friends of mine host Thanksgiving in their church hall every year. One of my favorite memories from that is watching a couple of teenagers try to figure out the old rotary phone that was there. They were sticking their fingers in the holes trying to find buttons to push, it was hysterical!
I had kids come through my work place on a tour and they asked what the typewriter was. They had never seen one before. And I had to show my newly graduated son how to address an envelope and where to put the stamp because he had never mailed anything before via snail mail.
A while back, my hot water heater went out. When they came to replace it, my daughter asked if she could have the box because she wanted to make a boat out of it. I told her “that’s really creative!! I would have just made a phone booth out of it!” To which she replied…… “what’s a phone booth??”
Yeah, we’re old!
This brings up a really good point. We need to make sure our children know how to use “old fashioned” tools (like land line phones, transistor radios, regular can openers) in case of emergencies. These emergencies don’t have to be as wide scale as a zombie apocolypse but even weather related emergencies can call on us to be able to use tools and materials that are not technologically based.
When my son called from school to tell me to pick him up, he’d use the name Hoof Hearted. I laughed every time the operator said I had a collect call from Who Farted.
This is so funny! We were @ Disneyland last week… walking through the Grand Californian and passed old phones. My 6 year old was trying to figure out how I would be able to carry it in my bag LOL
So funny! Quick question, however. Don’t your kids still see these things as illustrations in books? Mine would not know how to use a rotary phone…but they’d know what it is.
I think I never called to be picked up…had to get home by bus – that could take an hour or more depending on bus connections etc. Good old Europe.
I had the exact same pager–may it rest in peace! I recently took my kiddos to a museum and they had my first cell phone (the cute little phone that Carson Daily used to plug on TRL) on display! I wanted to cry I felt so old.