Thursday, July 26, 2012

Of the Telephone Book

N.B., This post won't be that deep or profound and I make no pretense of it. It's just something I got to thinking about. -- DC+

Perhaps you remember the scene in the great 1979 film The Jerk where Navin R. Johnson is excited to see that his name is in print in the new telephone book. "Things are going to start happening to me now," he says in delight (and they do, but I'll not spoil the movie for you if you haven't seen it). 

Throughout my childhood, the phone book was always there -- one each, beside each of the telephones. When my family moved from Black Mountain, North Carolina, to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, we took a copy of the most recent phone book with us in case it was needed to keep in touch with friends. When I went off to college I took a Myrtle Beach telephone book with me for similar reasons. Twenty years ago my name appeared for the first time in the telephone book (I can't remember if it was at Fort Knox, Kentucky, or Myrtle Beach, where I had returned to finish my undergraduate work); while it wasn't as thrilling for me as it was for Navin Johnson, it was a sign of independence and a milestone as a young adult. 

As I moved through the years I often had a couple of other telephone books from other places for ready reference. I was always in it -- for a while as "Collins, Charles A., Jr." and as "Collins, Drew," to help in locating me. Later, after ordination, it became "Collins, Charles A., Jr. Rev." Then, a few years ago my name dropped out -- I had transitioned to using my cell phone for everything and no longer had a home telephone line. When the new telephone book would come it would gather dust. The numbers I had were the numbers I needed and if I needed any others I could look them up on my smart phone.

I mention all of this because when I arrived home this evening the new phone book had been delivered. It immediately went into the trash. I did so with a tinge of regret -- yet another familiar object from my youth rendered obsolete with the passage of time and improvements in technology.