Saturday, April 17, 2010

Where Is The "Off" Button?

Like most people, we have several phones spread around the house. There is one in just about every room. This way, when the phone rings, it is very easy to answer it, if we chose to. They are all cordless, are yours probably are too, except for the one in the kitchen. It is your typical, old style (although not as old style as the picture above) wall phone.

Last week, two of our granddaughters, four and ten years old, had dinner with us. Shortly before dinner, their Dad called to talk to them. I answered the phone in the kitchen -- the wall phone. He asked to talk to the girls, so I handed the phone to them. The four-year-old was the last one to talk to her Dad. When she was finished, she looked at the phone, then looked up at me and said,

"Where is the off button?"

I looked at her a little quizzical, and then realized what she was asking, and said,

"Just hang up the phone on the wall.

Well, you would have thought I asked her to solve a second order differential equation. She did not understand what I said at all.

She just looked at me. I could imagine her saying "What the F are you talking about?" Of course, a four-year-old does not talk like that, but I realized at that moment that she did not understand what it meant to hang up a phone. The only phones she is familiar with are cordless phones. They have a off button. You don't hang them up. We might say we are hanging them up, but in reality we are turning them off. I took the phone from her and hung it back on the wall. I don't think she really understands what I did. As far as she knows, I just put the phone back in its place. I don't think she realizes that I also turned it off in the process of hanging it up.

As you get old and look back over your life, there are many things that we took as natural and common, that children now have no idea what we are talking about. I guess it has always been that way, but I am just starting to realize it.

I'm not sure if that means I am getting old, or getting smarter.


  1. I like this. Or not having to dial the operator to dial a 4-digit number for you. Or just having one phone with several party lines in a huge 6 bedroom house. "I've got it!"

  2. The problem now is that when ever she is on a cordless phone again she will try to hang it up some where to turn it off. LOL

    This is also a good lesson on how easily we can be trained for almost anything.
    Exposure to new and different things and thoughts are good for kids, as well as us old guys.

  3. I got rid of all my land line phones and went to cell phone only. It's more convenient, and I get about 5% of the solicitation calls. I love it.

  4. Priceless.. so cute.. !!!

    lol. I won't use cell phones. even if my 14 year old has one.

    I only have one that is in the kitchen for all to hear.. (as I feel it should be). I do not want to do two things at once... when I get a call. Just concentrate on the caller.

    I also don't want anyone calling me when I'm out and about.

    I don't call people on their cells; only house number.. unless they only have a cell.

    Peace .. lol.. it is peaceful to not have a cell phone.

    I shut my ringer on my house phone for hours too.. things can wait.

    Quiet time is nice..

  5. I hate answering the phone.
    I am always afraid some one will be on the other end.

  6. This is so true. Both of our daughters 6 and 12, refuse to watch black and white movies. They cannot accept the fact that there once were no color movies, therefore thy must not be valid. The twelve year old understands the concept of course, but still balks at watching one.

    Phone booths are also beyond their thinking. Why would you want a phone booth, just use your cell.

    Good post.

  7. I just realized that while we have gotten rid of the cord, we have added an "On" button in addition to the "Off" button.

    Use to be all you had to do was pick up the receiver.

  8. Getting old is only in our mind.
    Age never prevented people from doing things:

  9. A little kid just came in my store wearing a tee shirt that said.

    I bet you wish you knew where my off button is. LOL

  10. I agree with RealityZ. I'm a little on the misanthropic side myself. I DESPISE a phone. It gives me a little shot of dread to hear one ring. And I refuse to answer my cell if I'm home. Always felt a "mobile" phone was for when you were "mobile".

  11. I think the answering machine (or voice mail for the more tech inclined) is one of the greatest phone-related inventions there is.

  12. Jerry - 2nd only to the "No Ring Tone" function!! ;-)

  13. RZ: I am always afraid some one will be on the other end.

    And that's why I check to see who's calling before I answer - one of the advantages of a cell, which, btw, I rarely take anywhere.

    jadeja: what do they think of the silent movies?

    When I stop to let someone by in the parking lot and they just take their own sweet time strolling in front of my car, I rev up the engine and give them pissed look. They move.

  14. How about the people with the star trek phones in their ears.
    Is a call that important?

  15. They are quiet on the subject...vada boom!

  16. Tnlib - Parking lot strollers!! Very good. Another one of my pettest peeves!!

  17. I remember a friend relating to me how he tried to explain to his kids the 12 inch LP's that we listened to when we were growing up. And grown.... No comprehension there. They might well have been really think, black Frisbee's.

  18. "Thin." Not "think." I believe there was some muscle memory going on with that particular typo.

  19. Oh! I never even thought of that. I haven't had a real phone in ages, so I wonder if I might try to turn it off myself now.

  20. Jerry,

    YOU are old....and ain't it great!

    Have you been in a grocery store and the person in front of you is stopped, blocking the WHOLE aisle, while on their cell phone discussing which can of peas to buy?

    When I go to the store and to buy something and it ends up being the wrong thing...and if my wife comments on the fact I just look at her and tell her that if she wanted what she wanted then she should not have entrusted me with such a heavy responsibility.

  21. I am in full agreement with Jerry in regards to the the answering machine. Caller ID is nice also, and mute..and ringer turn off..and other cool stuff.

  22. Welcome, Fabienne. Thanks for stopping by.