TELEPHONES PAST AND PRESENT IMPERFECT

There are more cell phones than people in the USA.  You can look it up. The cell phone population passed the people population in 2011 and it’s still climbing.  Our 328 million souls now own about 360 million cell phones.  Don’t forget, most of us have two ears, so we probably have a way to go yet.

You can’t swing a shopping bag in a mall these days without interrupting three or four mobile conversations.  I’ve suggested having cell phone booths in malls and other public places where those annoying loud talkers can be sound-proofed. Booths would also help reduce the frequency of distracted walking-and-talking accidents. Just last week I saw two cell phoners collide in a hurtful head-on. They were still yakking into their chatterboxes when the EMT’s arrived.

There were no cell phones during the Great Depression in the 1930’s and many families couldn’t afford a landline phone. On rainy days we kids were housebound and out of contact with our neighborhood pals unless we put on our bathing suits and splashed through the gutter  puddles until a distant clap of thunder brought on a retreat call from home.

Most of us had radios but, trapped inside on a stormy day, we had to listen to Mom’s soap operas. After a few depressing episodes of “One Man’s Family” and “Ma Perkins” we would get quite unruly.

Then Frankie, our gang leader, had a brilliant idea. We could actually have phones to converse with nearby friends that wouldn’t involve Ma Bell and would be cost-free. “What kind of phones?” we asked.  “Megaphones!” Frankie replied.  We made them out of available cardboard and pretty soon the neighborhood was reverberating  with shouted out-of-window messaging.  As long as we shut down at sundown no one objected to the noise except for a few panicky dogs.

I could recreate my boyhood megaphone and take it to a mall to shout an impolite message to the first annoying  loud cell phoner I encounter.  I have unlimited minutes with my megaphone and also Medicare insurance, just in case.

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