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A callback to the phone’s simpler days

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If you call me on the phone, unless your name pops up on the screen, I probably won’t answer, but if you leave a message, I’ll call you back.

It gets harder and harder to remember the days when the phone rang (and it did ring, not play music or make some other noise) and you rushed through the house to answer it. It wasn’t always good news, but you could be pretty confident that there was a live person on the other end, and they were specifically calling someone in your household.

Now, most of us don’t answer calls from unknown numbers. I do sometimes answer local numbers even if I don’t recognize them, just in case, but seldom even do that anymore since telemarketers are using local numbers instead of their own and if you use the block function, they just go to another number.

For a while, texts seemed to be the way to go, but now, even that route of communication has been invaded by the robo-demons. I have gotten several “notices” from FedEx about phantom packages, and a number of people are anxious to give me money — in exchange for sneakily obtained personal information, of course.

I was a latecomer to the smartphone. I had a basic cellphone I carried with me in the car in case of emergency and we had a portable handset along with an answering machine. My husband used a smartphone, but for a very long time, my telephone of choice was my trusty old black dial phone. It was so comfortable to talk on and I really thought it was sort of fun to dial numbers instead of punching buttons. So did my grandchildren when they were young.

But when we had problems with the landline, we didn’t know who to call to fix it, so we gave it up entirely and I got my very own smartphone that used the old house number. I love it and I hate it.

I enjoy the convenience of being able to call almost anywhere from almost anywhere and I like to be able to check the weather or the headlines or the soccer scores and I like to play a few of the free games.

But I hate feeling exposed through my phone. And I hate having to worry about keeping it charged. And I hate having some recorded voice interrupt whatever I might be doing, which is why most of the time my phone is somewhere else with the ringtone cut very low. But, if you call me and I don’t answer, please leave a message. I’ll call you back.

Jean McCamy is a Wake Forest artist.

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