Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Telephone (07/17/08)
TITLE: Maddeningly Grateful
By Laury Hubrich
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I sat and fumed at the phone and desperately wanted to throw it across the room but as frustrating as they are, they do let me talk to friends and family, sometimes even, with a good connection. My relationship with phones has been a love/hate one at best.
The baby me, shook a telephone shaped rattle and smiled in cross-eyed delight and wonder. The toddler me dragged a telephone pull-toy, and listened to the chime as it rolled across the hardwood floor. The early school-age me connected tin cans to a string and whispered secrets to my sister.
The teenage me stood connected to the wall, striving for as much privacy as can be had in a house full of parents and siblings, talking to my best friend, giggling about cute guys. College-age me ran to the pay phone when my name was called knowing it would be my boyfriend.
The young married me held the cordless phone as I was told that my test results were positive: I was going to be a mom. Years later, my usually calm, well-behaved kids would beg for my attention and hang from my arms at the ring of the phone. As they got older, they would call me with the latest tattling.
I have received calls passing on bad news: “Grandpa Brown died.” Anguished voices were on the other end of frightening calls: “My dad shot himself.” Unexpected phone calls brightened lonely days, “Come over for pizza and we’ll play cards.” “I’m coming home on leave for a month, Mom.” Silly phone calls break the monotony. “Hello? Can me and my sisters come swim in your pool?” This is followed by squeals on the other end as the answer is affirmative.
Bag phones were carried in cars in case of emergencies. These were followed by cell phones with long antennas. Now, phones are made so small they can fit in your jeans pocket. One phone can take the place of a camera, alarm clock, IPOD, answering machine, computer, a watch, and game systems. It is a compact invention that is taken wherever we go and is a constant disruption if other people are using them around you or is a convenient way to stay in touch if you are the one using it.
Phones connect us instantly to people and places. With the right calling plan, for a few dollars, you can connect to friends around the world. Without thinking about calling plans, and the call is made anyway, the bill is most frightening. Phone calls connected to the right people can take away that bill or at least, greatly decrease it.
Cell phones can be maddening. To get a good signal, at times, you have to stand on one foot, on the couch, with your tongue sticking out just a bit to the right. Of course, the signal is lost just as something important is about to be said such as, “I love you.”
Phones can be used to give comfort across the miles and they can also be used to impart pain. “I hate you,” hangs in the air and a slammed phone is also effective in conveying displeasure in the person you’re talking with.
As frustrating as telephones are, I can’t imagine life without them. Many times I am caught talking on the phone to the person that I am instant messaging, while looking at them through the web cam. Our lives have certainly changed. I wonder how much more they will change in the years ahead. Imagine a life with no lost signals, no dropped calls, and no more thinking of creative ways to say, “I didn’t catch that.”
I’ll try to call my son again soon and this time I’ll hold tight to the phone and be grateful for this means of communication. Even if I have to listen through static, I’ll be grateful. And when I’ve hung up, after I’ve taken Ibuprofen for a headache caused from trying to listen through a bad connection, I’ll gratefully dial the phone and stay on hold as I prepare to complain to my telephone provider.
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