I’ve come across the word “anachronism” often in reading, but I was never exactly sure what it meant. Context usually hinted it was something out of place, but I wanted to be sure; so, as a last resort I looked it up in the dictionary.
Turns out I had it right, but there was more.
More specifically, an anachronism is something out of place in time — like me.
Year-by-year I am more certain I was better suited to the previous century than to this one. Electronic technology has outpaced my ability to learn and use it a dozen times over. Worse, my interest in learning more tech stuff peaked around 1994, about the time I got my first mobile telephone — one of those analog units the same size as a house phone kept in a bag on my truck seat.
Three decades later I haven’t progressed much. While folks everywhere are using devices the size of graham crackers to take pictures, access the internet, talk to one another and basically replace that bulky desktop computer, I’m still using a flip phone.
I use it just like I did the black desk telephone that sat on a table by my dad’s easy chair years ago — I call people and they call me. The main difference is it’s in my pocket, not my living room.
Someday I’ll have to upgrade, but I won’t until I must. My better half shares her Facebook news, pictures of grandkids and so forth. I get e-mails on my iMac, have a good Nikon camera to take pictures and a whole library of books I can access even when the internet is down.
If I had to I could even get by with a black desk phone like that of 60 years ago.
I will admit, though, that single line had it’s drawbacks. As a teenager I was too bashful to call a girl with Dad sitting right there, and even as a college student I called my dates from a pay telephone booth (remember those). I never got used to Dad’s teasing.
Of course, I welcomed new technology — or at least innovations — when I had kids in the house. Those long, curly receiver cords offered teens a modicum of privacy, but we still knew where the kids were and usually who they were talking to.
No quite the same today
I’m not sure kids today have even seen a telephone cord, likely never a dial telephone, neither telephone long distance calling cards. Using yesterday’s telephones they would be as confused as I am today by my wife’s smart phone. I don’t even know how to answer it.
Though slow to jump on the wagon, I was a fan of the bag phone in my pickup trucks, though I likened the one in Martha’s van to an umbilical cord — seems there was always a kid on the other end. It wasn’t as reliable as today’s cell phones, even with an antenna on top of the truck, but at least the bag phone looked and held like a telephone, rather than a transistor radio.
All of this I’ve referenced — dial telephones, curly cords, bag phones and transistor radios — they’re anachronisms in their own right.
And if my flip phone isn’t, it soon will be.
But, I’ll be right at home with it, just like Dad was with his rotary dial job.
Even if it was a mite like Henry Ford’s Model T — available in any color as long as it was black — which was a lot more than what it replaced — none at all.
Yeah, I remember those days, too, and don’t want to go back to them… except when the robo-calls come in, and as I recall, Dad never had to contend with such a thing.
As for party lines, that’s fodder for another time.
Copyright 2024, James E. Hamilton; email firstname.lastname@example.org. Read more of his works in Ozarks RFD 2010-2015, available online from Amazon, Barnes & Noble or from the author.
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