Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Old Woman Story

I'm so old that when I was a kid I was told I couldn't use the phone until I "learned how to talk on the phone" 
Yes, my mother thought it was important to speak a certain way on the phone.

For some reason that phone hanging on the wall with the little finger holes to dial was quite appealing to me as a child.  So until my mother schooled me how she wanted me to answer the phone there was no answering the phone in my home.

I got lessons around the age of 1st grade. No answering the phone before then. 
Not that I could reach it anyways. It seemed so damn high on that wall. 
Much later she got a stool for my sister and I to reach the phone. 

I was instructed to say hello and the name of my family, "Hello the Malizia's" or something to that effect. (a T sound in my last name people like pizza)
If someone asked for my mother or father, which is the only people to get calls, I was to say, "I'll get them, one moment please"  or I could ask, "Who may I tell them is calling?"
I was never to yell for them especially not into the receiver. 
I had to put the phone down and go get them. If even there were just a few feet away.
There was to be no dropping the phone and having it bang against the wall so the person on the other end was being jarred. My sister always did that one.

As I got older and got phone calls and someone asked for me I was to say, "This is she"
Heaven forbid I say, "yea it's Peg" or anything remotely like that. And the gasps from my mother if you said, "this is her" Oh dear that made her go ballistic.

As I got older my father wouldn't "want to be home"
He was in his own business as a plumber. Before his business went commercial and industrial he did plumbing for people in their homes. Home was his office.
I was still pretty young at this point in time.
Sometimes he would say to my mother, "I'm not home" And of course she would lie. 
I made the classic mistake of asking my father if he was home one time. 
I learned not to do that again, but not in the way you'd think.
Looking back how the hell did the person on the phone know I even said it, I didn't yell? 
I went to my dad and asked him. I stood right in front of him. That is funny now.
He took the call and we were no longer aloud to ask that question. My dad never said that again.  I guess they realized they were teaching me to lie. I heard he and mom talking about it after that event. She said we are not teaching the right thing here George. So that was the end of my dad not being home. 

We had a party line when I was growing up for a little while. For you young ones a party line was a line shared by many people. You would pick up your receiver and if another person who was on that line was talking to someone you had to hang up and wait until they were done so you could use the phone. 
Sometimes it would cause grief with my mom when she wanted to use the phone because someone was on too long for her liking. It was such a big deal when we got a "private line". 
My mom made a big deal about it and was so damn happy. She told people she has a "private line now"  I remember my Aunt being so jealous. She wanted one and shortly after she had one too and my mom and her sister thought this was the damn lottery. 
I think that is pretty funny but it must have been horrible to have to wait for complete strangers so you could use the phone.

We didn't have any technology to answer our phones. If we went out we missed calls.
No one seemed to mind. We went to the movies and the mall and had fun. None the wiser. When we got home and someone called they generally told you they called earlier but you weren't home. No big deal though, they called back. If we were on the phone people knew when they called because they got a busy signal. They would just try again later. No big deal.
It all seems so long ago. A busy signal. When was the last time you heard that?

Remember long distance? That was such a monumental deal for everyone. I lived 90 miles from my cousin in Cleveland and heaven forbid you speak to one another for more than 3 minutes. My father would be screaming about LONG DISTANCE CHARGES. I do wonder what the hell the charges were that everyone made such a big deal about this. But boy this was a big damn deal in our house.

Today we don't have party lines, we take our phones with us, we don't pay extra to call across the country and we don't teach children how to speak in a polite way on the phone. Sometimes I miss some of that.

Today when I called a customer her child answered the phone and just screamed in my ear. At first the boy said, 'what?" in a screaming voice. I asked to speak to his mother. 
He then just screamed and continued to scream. I heard his mother arguing with him. 
He wasn't talking, just screaming. It made no sense.
I hung up. Seriously that is bullshit.
I think sometimes it is a good thing that our daughter is 33.  I'd have grabbed that phone from her little hands and let her have her tantrum while I spoke on the phone. After the call there would be a price to pay for that behavior. First one, no answering of the phone until you know the proper way to answer the phone.

I thought my mother was so mean to make me have to learn "rules" about the phone.
But now that I have to hear bratty children who control their parents instead of the parents controlling the kids. It made me realize my mom did me a great service. 

I rebelled against most of the things my parents tried to teach me, but every now and then I realize some things have apparently seeped in.


Ms. A said...

Brought back a lot of memories, especially of party lines. I was so glad when we finally got a private line... and a longer cord, so I could take the phone in my bedroom! That little phone cutout thingy in the hall and a hard floor, was no place to carry on conversations.

Margaret (Peggy or Peg too) said...

Cora, oh yes, the long cord. Mine never went to my bedroom though and my father would never hear of us having our own phone. I had friends who had their own phone and phone line!! I see pictures from past blogs are missing as well. I put some back but can't go through my whole blog. What's that about?

flask said...

a long time ago "at home" was a social convention meaning "available to callers".

Mike said...

There were 2 party, 4 party, 8 party, and sometimes 16 party lines.

Margaret (Peggy or Peg too) said...

mike - we had a 4 party line. 8 or 16 would mean you never could get on the phone I would imagine.

flask - i am not available to callers even when home.:-)

bikinfool said...

I remember having a 2 party line as I was growing up. The "other party" was our neighbor who lived about 500 feet away, one of their wheat fields being between our two houses. Used to be able to talk to them just by picking up the phone sometimes.

Also remember being about 3, hearing the phone ring and flying up the stairs so I could reach through the stair rail balusters and grab the phone to answer it. Really pissed off my mom, because I didn't know proper phone etiquette at that age.

Margaret (Peggy or Peg too) said...

Bikinfool - the phone between the balusters was something we did at my Uncle's house. Now I would rather not answer my phone but as a kid man that was so cool.

Mom Taxi Julie said...

Nice! I hate when I call someone for work and a kid is like that. We had someone that we ended up making their application ineligible because they would never return our calls and when I called the kids said "they are too busy" to come to the phone. Too busy for 50 grand! Bummer!