A 1970s Telephone Experience

The modern-day telephone. Not much of a phone but more of a computer. I remember many years ago when I was in middle school. There was this girl, Vicki, who I wanted so badly to call for the first time. She was so pretty and smart and, most importantly, acknowledged my existence. And, we passed paper notes to each other during class. I didn’t actually hand the note to her directly. Are you kidding? I handed the note to one of my friends who handed it to one of her friends who handed it to Vicki. Between classes, we smiled and said hi to each other as we passed each other in the hall.

One night, I finally got up the nerve to call her. I was such a nervous mess. I opened the scrap of paper where she had written her phone number with a little heart on the bottom. My heart was pounding. My hands were sweating. And then, I picked the phone receiver off of the hook. I placed the receiver to my ear and … heard my sister talking to her friend on the phone. Darn! I would have to wait and try calling her in a few minutes. But the way girls talked on the phone, I may have to wait an hour!

Two hours later, my sister got off of the phone and I tried once again. After holding up the receiver to my ear, I awaited the click of the dial tone to kick in. It did. Whew! Next, I placed my index finger into the correct hole to turn the dial. Since it only required seven digits to dial, it usually only took no more than ten seconds to dial all of the numbers. It was seemingly effortless. So, I dialed the first number with my index finger and turned the dial until I reached the end and watched it roll back. I carefully looked her number and dialed the second number. And then, the third. As I dialed each number, I became more panicked. What if her mother answered? What would I tell her? I would just ask to speak with her daughter. No, I would be strong and ask to speak to Vicki by name. Yeah. But, wait, what if Vicki answered? Immediately my mouth went dry, thinking about what to say. Five numbers and … Wait… Did I completely dial the previous number? Did I? I thought I did. Maybe I didn’t. So, I hung up and dialed once again.

Ok, picked up the phone and got the dial tone. Dialed the numbers and thought about what I would say. There was a short two-second pause and then I heard the phone ring. Ok, this is it! It rang a second time. What if she answered? What if her mother answered? What if her FATHER answered? It rang a third time. Then, the phone picked up. And the sweetest voice answered, “Hello?” And…and…I immediately hung up out of fear, naturally.

Oh, come on, I can do this. I called right back. I can just talk to her about how her day was, what she did. Then, I could talk about what I did all day and what I thought about her. I finished dialing the last number and waited for the ringing to start. I can do this! I know I can! I can talk to a girl on the phone! And then…and then…I got a busy signal. What does that mean? Was she calling me back? Did she take her phone off the hook by mistake? Was she calling a boyfriend that I didn’t know about?

Thirty minutes passed and I tried again. Dialed the numbers. No, wait…I dialed the last number wrong. Darn! Try again. Ok. Good. All of the numbers were dialed and I got through. The phone is ringing. This is it! I am calling Vicki! This is very exciting! Her mother answered the phone, “Hello?” After a deep swallow, I responded with, “May I speak with Vicki?” And, she responded with a cheerful, “Sure. Just a moment.” I was getting even more nervous now. “Vicki, there is a boy on the phone.” Oh crap! Now her entire household knows that I am calling.

Vicki picked up the phone with the sweetest voice in the world, “Hello?” I responded, “Hi Vicki. This is John. How are you? What did you do today?”

And as I listened during the next thirty minutes, I did my best to get a word in as she talked about her classes, her friends, her friends’ classes, what she ate for dinner, what her friends ate for dinner, what TV show she was watching, what she did in class with her friends, what kind of dog she had, what her dog ate, and then it was over.

I managed to talk to Vicki on the phone. What an amazing experience!

Article by John Coder

Posted March 20, 2015


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