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A week of communication discoveries

So this is how my week of discoveries went…

Our landline phone in the kitchen decided it had had enough of us.

Despite battery changes, wire jiggling and mild expletives, it refused to function.

And that’s a problem, given the old-time “gossip table” I’d bought in recent months was now without a legitimate gossip device.

Sure, we could still sit there and opt to use our cell phones instead, but it’s just not the same thing, yakking on a modern device while you’re sitting on an old-fashioned piece of furniture.

And besides, as one astute visiting family member pointed out, it’s no fun slamming your cell phone down in disgust or for emphasis after a conversation has ended on a sour note.

There’s no sound of authority when you do that with a cell phone, and it’s actually kind of stupid. Can you say cracked cell phone screen?

Anyway, I got a bright idea, be it ever so brief. I decided to bring from the basement an old rotary dial phone, one that — ta-daahhhh — matched the turquoise retro color of the kitchen counters. And how well suited it was for the gossip table.

Perfect! Mission accomplished! Problem solved!

The first time the rotary dial phone rang, I felt nostalgic, almost party-line anticipatory and delirious. What a ring! What a sound!

But phone “progress” brought phone regress.

Duhhh.

For one thing, I had no clue who was calling. As a teenager, when the phone rang, I’d hope it was a boy calling for a date, not a neighbor needing a cup of sugar, but you never knew before that first “Hello.” Oh, the possibilities of who was on the other end of the line.

But as a 61-year-old, I am reminded how convenient it is to know who’s calling, that caller ID has great value, especially in avoiding relentless telemarketers, some wanting to sell an extended car warranty for a vehicle that went to the junk yard about a decade ago.

With a rotary dial phone, though, it’s a mystery who’s calling when it rings.

I offered a mini-seminar to visiting relatives over the Labor Day holiday weekend on how to get around this communication roadblock.

Phone rings. Answer it. Say nothing.

Sounds rude, but if it’s a telemarketer, your voice activates the message. If you don’t hear anything, it’s a Robocall waiting to begin.

If it’s a real person, say someone who needs to borrow a cup of sugar, you’ll hear a confused “Hello?”

Another discovery I made, regrettably, about the beautiful retro phone that matches the old kitchen counters: You can’t dial out.

You can receive a call, but you can’t place a call.

Now that’s pretty inconvenient no matter how well the phone factors into the retro kitchen color scheme of things.

It’s tough to keep current on gossip at the gossip table under such communication equipment limitations.

But all roadblocks have a detour that can get you to your destination.

Forget the phone and just gab in person!

Have a happy week of communicating.

And have a happy week of discoveries.

(Kiaski, a resident of Richmond, is a staff columnist and community editor for the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times. She can be contacted at jkiaski@heraldstaronline.com.)

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