TECHNOLOGY IN TRANSITION

I remember visiting my parents’ home during a college break and asking my parents how long they were going to make me suffer with a rotary dial phone in the hallway.  Then, after moving to Texas, I swore I’d never call them unless they invested the $3 a month for call waiting because they were either always on the phone or the computer and every time I tried to call them I got a busy signal.
Fast forward to 2010, and I’ve reached another telecommunications growth spurt.

Recently, I changed car insurance companies.  On their bill, website and every other form of advertising and information, is an 800 number that includes the word CLAIM.  On their bill, website and every other place I looked, they did not have the alternative (the actual numbers) listed anywhere.

Because I was in the middle of entering the number in my contacts I decided to go to the internet and Google traditional phone pad to get the letters corresponding numbers to put in my phone in case I ever had to call in for a claim.

I have not had a traditional house phone for nearly three years now.  I have a traditional phone I can plug in the wall somewhere (and by somewhere I mean it’s probably in a box in my closet), but my cell phone’s keypad is a combination number/qwerty keyboard – so the letters would not match the numbers CLAIM represents. 
I can access a traditional keypad on the touch screen on my phone, but to be honest, I hardly use it.  I either use the readily accessible keypad or just choose a contact and push to dial.  Besides, to have to look up what number corresponds to a number is one of those tedious things I shouldn’t have to do if the company would just print the full number in addtion to their “easy to remember” CLAIM. 
I have been cell phone shopping recently and have seen many cell phones that do not have a traditional phone keypad readily accessible.  People speak, “Call John” and the phone obeys or they have speed dial, or they access and dial in many other ways. Even at work I hardly dial more than four or five numbers at a time and most of the time I use shortcuts the phone provides for me.  People rarely traditionally dial these days if they are out and about with their cell phone in hand, and almost no one uses a traditional keypad to text from these days, either.
Heaven forbid my phone gets smashed in the accident and I have to use some random cell phone that has a traditional keypad that’s more difficult to access or in a lot of cases, not even there.  In times of crisis, I might remember 800 CLAIM** but might not want to work that out in numbers in the middle of the chaos that would cause me to have to remember it in the first place.
I searched all over their website and couldn’t find CLAIM translated anywhere and this amused me somewhat, so I called the insurance company and had a nice chat with a lady named Anne.  I told Anne I was not calling for a claim but to ask (since their website had no way to contact except by phone) whom I should talk to about this.  She pulled out her own cell phone and started laughing because she, too, had a phone with a combo number/qwerty keyboard and said that if she had a traditional phone keypad on her phone, she’d never seen it.  Anne is my age and we both agreed that as traditional phones faded into the sunset, their website’s information should keep up with the times.
I wonder what stories I will tell kids when they complain about using a hand-me-down phone that is “so far behind the times.”  I will tell them, once upon a time, we even dialed seven numbers instead of ten and see how they marvel at that.  Or, perhaps, when I left the house, if my car broke down and I had to make a phone call, I had to knock on someone’s door or find (gasp) the soon to be extinct pay phone.
This experience brought to mind one of Bill Cosby’s routines where he said he asked his father for a nickel and he would get the old man’s life story, including, “when I was your age, I walked to school uphill, both ways.”  I find that story even moreso amusing now, because I find myself telling those same kind of stories!  With technology changing every few months, however, this doesn’t make me feel old, it makes me feel fortunate to appreciate what the new gives me in convenience… except when I need the numbers that correspond with CLAIM…

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