Wireless phone

Keeping up with the times

Tracey Columns

As a young woman, I would always call my Granny on her birthday. With both of us living at opposite ends of California, it was one way to stay in touch.

The phone would ring once … twice … three times and then she would pick up. As soon as she heard my voice wishing her a “Happy Birthday,” I would hear her breath catch, and then quicken a beat. While I knew some of that reaction was from the joy of a phone call from her only granddaughter, I also knew her heart rate was in over-drive because of the price of long distance telephone calls!

I don’t think that, in all the years of these calls, we ever made it to the three minute mark. (For those of you too young to remember, the first three minutes were based on one charge. For each additional minute, the rate went up.) Granny would thank me, stammer about for a few seconds and then launch: “Oh honey, this just is too expensive. You don’t have enough money for long distance calls. You hang up now and thanks for the good wishes.”

Click. The line would go dead before I could even say good-bye. I’d be left standing in my kitchen, holding the black receiver, smiling at my dear grandmother’s fiscal sense and wondering what it was like to be so old to actually think a long distance phone call was an extravagance?

Fast forward a few decades and here I am. While I don’t have any grandchildren yet, I am fairly close to the age my grandmother was when I first began making those long distance calls. Interestingly, like her, I have my own attitudes about the cost of telephone service these days. Therefore, I recently decided it was “just too expensive” to maintain the land-line at my office. It’s official, I’ve transitioned everything over to my cell phone. (Call my office and you will be referred to the current number.)

Well, perhaps “just too expensive” isn’t exactly spot on. With the advent of cellular service, it was redundant to maintain both lines. Or, to put it another way, in a way my Granny would have appreciated, it was a waste of money. My cell service gives me everything my land-line did and more.

In making this decision, I had my Granny’s wisdom floating through my head, having learned fiscal sensibility from her. She would have completely agreed with my decision.

However, I was also fairly certain that the concept of a cell phone would have thrown her right over the edge. She definitely was one who preferred to have things “the way they used to be.” (No judgement here. I fully understand how difficult, how frustrating and, at time, how downright frightening change can be.)

I don’t find myself pining away for how things used to be. Sure, I miss the times when our kids were young. I’m also quite glad our child-rearing was winding down around the time the internet and cell phones took over. And there will always be a large part of me that wishes people were more respectful, nicer to each other.

But my approach to the aging process includes staying as current with the world around me as I possibly can. This requires that I learn new things, which exercises my  brain. It helps me feel engaged with the world, not isolated from it. I am challenged, and satisfied by diving into new and different pursuits.

All of these positives aside, I am also quite capable of wringing my hands when forced to resolve a computer problem. Slogging my way through setting up new programs and apps can have me wishing I lived a hundred years ago. And when my email was recently hacked? I was ready to throw every electronic device I own straight into the trash.

Perhaps the lesson in all of this is to pick and choose those things that make us feel good and recognize that the rest of it just may be, as my Granny would have also said, “a bunch of hooey!”

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