Attic Salt for May 20, 2012

Hanging on to big old phone book

This week, the Louisiana Public Service Commission takes up the weighty matter of telephone books.

Will customers be allowed to opt for hearing that familiar “thump” in the driveway?

At our house, we’ll be opting to continue receiving the phone book, the one with the telephone numbers. If my wife had the lone vote, we’d be opting out. I think she uses an old phone book for zip codes, but uses electronic means for phone numbers.

I’d like to buy the phone company’s reason for wanting to discontinue the phone book, wait for it, TIME and MONEY, but I can’t remember the last time that argument saved me either TIME or MONEY. Somehow, the savings are never large enough to reach my watch or my wallet.

By watch, I mean wristwatch for those of you who use your pocket phones for the time or have opted to tell time by the tug of the planets.

By wallet, I mean the thing in my back pocket where I keep cash, driver’s license and a list of passwords for websites that replaced owner’s manuals, investment statements, health insurance plans and where I may go or not go to get my teeth cleaned.

The Yellow Pages, the real ones and the fake ones, will continue to plop into my life, I suppose, because they make money.

This is funny. I can’t remember the last time I used the Yellow Pages.

Oh, right. I cut the lawyer’s magnet ad into pieces to use as refrigerator note holders.

(Take it, Heloise.)

Some of us find the White Pages a convenient way to look up numbers. Most likely, we use the phone book in places where there are tables or counters to support them, though I’ll use my lap in a pinch.

I like a little kookiness, but I admit that I’d find a phone user who carries the book around in a knapsack not someone I’d want to lunch with.

Some of us, who are pretty normal in our own way, think technology often inconveniences some people as it, what, conveniences others?

I am the proud owner of the last telephone book published by LSU. It grows increasingly useless for looking up faculty and staff at home, but most of the numbers for departments, colleges and business offices are good.

Soon, as the mother of Louisiana universities shrinks, we’ll be ringing a woman in a little room behind the tiger’s cage to say, “Gladys, This is (caller’s name). Give me Arts and Sciences, please.”

Campus Information is a working number. Sort of.

Call it, (225) 578-3202. You’ll get a menu, a long menu, before being sent to a website for another menu. Stay on the line a long time, and you’ll be invited to hit the pound sign. I pounded pound. A human being answered.

A young woman told me that people still call for phone numbers and that LSU humans will look up those numbers “using the computer just as you can.”

The LSU human laughed, maybe to soften what, upon instant reflection, may have sounded harsh to a local Third World caller.