Hi, Ma Bell? It’s 2022 calling

Work in Progress

By Ivan Morgan

One day 20 years ago I caught myself speeding home to make an important phone call. I suddenly realized how ridiculous that was and the very next day I bought a cell phone (in those days a flip phone). The day after that I had my landline disconnected. I remember the phone company person warning me against doing that.

Last week I had a phonebook delivered to my mailbox. It was tiny, much smaller than years ago. Looks like a lot of people gave up their landlines.

I took it out of my mailbox and tossed it straight into my recycling bin. I have no need for it. Haven’t needed one for years.

In fact, I did a straw poll of my friends and neighbours and that’s where they tossed theirs.

When I was a wee nipper in the 1960s, the yearly arrival of the new phonebook was a big event.  I’d look at the cover for a second and then do what I always did with the new phonebook – I’d look up our family: Morgan, Robert Ivan Westerland Cottage 579-6765. I remember how comforting it was to see us listed there. If you needed to find anyone or anything, you looked it up in “the book.”

How things change. Once upon a time it was the most widely read book in Canada. Every household had one. I tried to find someone who still relies on the phonebook. I couldn’t. 

So why does the phone company still saddle us with one?

You have to wonder about a company that still compiles, prints and distributes a product to a huge section of their customers who don’t need or want it. How much does it cost to compile? How much does it cost to print? How much does it cost to distribute? Does it make money? Did it ever? Is the phone company doing this because that’s the way they’ve always done it?

How about its environmental footprint? I looked up the phone company’s environmental policy. It’s the usual carefully worded corporate blather. I have an idea, why not stop deforesting acres for a book most people don’t want or need.

From the looks of it, there’s still people advertising in the Yellow Pages (for the young folks, that’s a list of businesses). Why you would spend advertising dollars to be in a book no one will ever read when you could advertise in The Shoreline escapes me. Because we always have?

Don’t expect the phone company to give you any answers. I’ve always thought it’s funny how hard it is to phone the phone company. They don’t want you to phone them. They have a bot. I asked the bot these questions. The bot didn’t know what I was asking.

For many years I called and asked to be taken off the delivery list. A machine would take my name and address. And the following year I got another phonebook. Sigh.

I have heard the book is still published for seniors. Fine. Print them and make them available upon request. Maybe a book for anyone listed?

I don’t want to be too negative about the phone company. We have all benefitted from the advancements they brought us. Like most people I am wedded to my iPhone. Its literally the world at my fingertips. Back in the day, when I was going through my first divorce, the phone company introduced a new feature called call display, or as I called it: THE GREATEST INVENTION IN ALL OF HISTORY! But that’s another story.

But the phonebook’s time has passed. They really need to stop printing them and burdening folks with them. Think of the money they’d save. Think of the benefits to the environment.

Just don’t imagine you’d see any of those benefits reflected in your monthly bill.

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