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Telephone Etiquette

Since the inception of mobile phones, the way we communicate has certainly changed. I remember the excitement when my first telephone was installed in my car. The year was 1983 and it was a base on my console, a box in my trunk and an antenna on my roof. The cost was one dollar per call, in or out, but the time I saved arranging appointments, making decisions on the fly and just simply being in touch all the time, was not something you could put a price on. I would even go so far as to hold the handset to my ear at traffic lights, just so people could see how cool I was.

Back then, and even before, when the phone at home rang, everyone would scramble to answer it, and answer it politely. Each call was from someone we knew, and it was usually a pleasure to speak to them.

As time progressed, telephones became a tool to make life easier. I remember our first overseas call to the folks at home was $9 per minute, at a time when $50 a week was an OK wage. Over time, technology became cheaper and mobility grew in popularity.

Somewhere during that process, we lost the courtesy and privilege of having a phone. Telemarketing started to grow. It started with simple ‘We would like to schedule an appointment…” calls from courteous individuals, but that quickly grew to mass market annoyances, especially at dinner time.

The invention of the answering machine (voicemail for the younger generation), meant we no longer had to be home to receive a call. In fact, it meant we no longer had to receive any calls. We could simply listen to them at a later time.

Then, one day, it happened. Texting was unleashed on the world. I remember seeing my very first text message during a visit to Poland in 1999. Now it is a way of life and, with apps like ‘Whatsapp’, you can text anyone, anytime, anywhere for free.