When the latest edition of the telephone book arrived in our mailbox, it was easy to determine that phone books are not nearly as popular as they were, say 10 or even five years ago.
Whereas previous editions were hefty, requiring some serious wrist-power to lift them, the weakest of wrists would not have a problem with the 2019-20 volume.
But without thinking much about it after verifying our name, address and phone number were correct and that some friends and relatives were also included, the book went under the telephone and on top of three previous phone directories.
Housemate laments that I don’t need to hang onto phone books of years past, but they do come in handy when one attempts to remember a former address for an acquaintance or to check the yellow pages for the name of a business that doesn’t seem to have kept up its advertisement in the new book.
It wasn’t until I embarked on a mission to attach Canada Post addresses to the list of names on an invitation list for a coming event in our lives that I realized how much is missing from the new book.
The names on our list are carefully catalogued in my special system. The idea was then to use our personal address book to jot down addresses across from representative names. The address book was a valuable resource, being used at least once a year when the Christmas cards must be addressed. But it wasn’t a complete source of information.
So there I was, phone book in hand and the list of names in my workbook. At first it went well, with many names discovered and addresses recorded. Then suddenly my good luck took a downward turn of omissions. Some names are no longer in the book; others are there without addresses but with a phone number.
My complaint to Housemate did not elicit the proper amount of sympathy. He merely pointed out that folks with cellphones are unlikely to be included in the phone book, and the number of folks with cellphones has far surpassed the number who still have landlines.
Add to that the fact that some people don’t want snoops to know where they live and that some who still have landlines simply don’t want to let just anyone know their phone numbers — perhaps to outsmart the telemarketers and other annoying strangers who offer deals and scams.
At one time I laughed at young people who never ever opened a phone book but relied on Google, 411, and other online sources to track down phone numbers and addresses. Now I find myself doing those kinds of searches — some successfully, and some not even close to being successful. For instance, one friend’s address is listed as Buffalo Pound Lake but there’s no postal code and I doubt if Canada Post would deliver there without more details.
Thus, there are many blank spots on my list of names. Either they could be scratched off the list, or I could e-mail them and ask for their post office address, or perhaps I could call a friend who happens to be a friend of a friend who would possibly be able to share an address or two.
Oh, for the good old days when a long ring on a party line would quickly get my message relayed to one and all who picked up the receiver.
But wait: I have at least five years’ worth of old phone books to check. It is such a relief that I wasn’t convinced to get rid of them.
Joyce Walter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org