I really miss loving the sound of a ringing telephone.
I can vividly remember when I was a boy, the harsh sound of the real hammer striking those real bells in the rotary wall phone that hung in the hall between the kitchen & living room. It was the only phone in the house, and the handset had a cord on in that must have been 20 feet long. Initially it was probably only about 10 feet and neatly coiled, but now it was stretched, knotted and mangled from having been over-extended to corners of rooms where it was never meant to reach.
When that phone rang, I think my brain must have received a shot of endorphins. The mystery! The surprise! It could be anybody!
I stubbed many a toe racing to be first to the hall and to answer the phone. Even though it was rarely for me, answering it was fun. And on the rare occasion when it was for me… even better! Maybe it was a friend who wanted to make plans to visit or go to the movies. Or a classmate who had a question about homework. Or even a current/potential girlfriend. Oh, the possibilities.
Fast forward, though, and that sound brings very different emotions.
When the phone rings now, it’s never good. I’ve become like Pavlov’s dog in reverse — rather than salivating at the sound of the bell, I’m instead filled with dread.
It’s not the nostalgia for technology that I miss, mind you — gadgets are awesome. It’s the content. It seems that all friendly and happy communication now comes by way of email and text. “What’s up?” “Wanna catch a movie?” “LOL”
Nearly every time my phone rings now, it’s either bad news or a problem. It’s a client with an emergency, or a dentist appointment verification, or a friend with news so bad it can’t be handled via text.
And it’s not that I don’t want to help the client, or go to the dentist, or hear from the friend — it’s that the vehicle for bad news has become that ringing sound, and so that ringing sound automatically surges bad feelings before I even look at my cell to see who it is.
I can count on one hand the number of times in the last five years that I responded to that ringtone and the voice on the other end was just, “Hi, just calling to say hello.”
I miss liking the sound of my ringing phone, and don’t know if I’ll ever get to like it again.