On March 10 in 1876, the first telephone call was made by Alexander Graham Bell as he demonstrated his ability to "talk with electricity". The first phone call was made to Thomas Watson, who was Bell's assistant. "Mr Watson, come here. I want to see you," were the first words transmitted.
In this 21st century, had Graham Bell made that call, Thomas Watson would have not shown up. He would have been having supper.
A couple of months ago I made a list of ten phone numbers and called each one. These were the results.
1. We are about to have supper, will call you later. (He didn’t)
2. We are having supper, will call you later. (He didn’t)
3. Alex, I am on my way to North Van, will call you later. (He didn’t)
4. Alex, it is 9pm. You woke me up, I will call you later. (He didn’t)
5. The phone rang and rang. No answering machine.
6. Left a message on the answering machine. (He didn’t call back)
7. You cannot connect with this number as dialed. The landline in question is in transition to be disconnected.
8. Answer by email: “I don’t read my emails and I have the ringer on my phone on silent mode. If you want to talk to me, text me first”.
9. Somebody did answer and we had a short chat.
10. My friend, artist Martin Guderna, always answers the
phone and I can even call him after 10pm. A explanation for this anomaly is that his father Ladislav Guderna was a surrealist painter.
The first phone in my memory was in 1954 in Mexico City. By then
the Mexican phone company demanded that anybody who wanted a phone had to buy
shares in the company. All Mexicans saw this as a bribe. All phones were black.
In 1959, in our St. Ed’s Catholic boarding school in Austin, Texas, we had two coin public phones outside our dorm. It didn’t take us long to devise the use of a twisted coat hanger wire that bypassed using coins.
A woman called Martia (knowing we were an all-boys school) would call us and talk sexy. This was my first experience with phone sex.
In 1966, while in the Argentine Navy I received a phone call from my not quite uncle Leo Mahdjubian. He said, “Alexander, your father kicked the bucket yesterday. He was taken to the hospital by a police sergeant and pronounced dead. You will have to go to the police station to sign some documents.”
The worst phone call in my memory happened not long after. I was in my pension on a dark, cold rainy Buenos Aires evening. My girlfriend Susy was on the phone and she said, “Alex you will never amount to anything. You are uneducated. I am leaving you for a violinist at the Teatro Colón. Don’t ever call me back.”
I blame Steve Jobs for the present situation where a phone is of no use except to look at it while crossing at an intersection and to post emojis on social media.
My friend Mark Budgen, a friend now dead, might have known what was to happen in this century. In that last one he answered my phone call, “Alex I cannot talk to you. I am monitoring a fax.”
I have a good friend who says he does not have email or a smart phone. He has landline at home with an answering machine but is never there. I get one phone call on Monday’s or Tuesday’s at 11:30 in the morning. What this means is that I can communicate with him only on his terms.
As it is now, living alone with two cats, one of my few avenues with humanity is the phone call. I should consider that that avenue is only twofold. I get phone calls from my two daughters. And that’s it.
I am still in good health so the idea of going to a senior’s home is not yet viable. Would I be able to take Niño and Niña with me? I would not have my garden or my oficina. But the idea of being in a place with in person humans is not such a bad one. Is that my future?
I wrote in this blog about the mostly Latin American concept of the "cronista" or chronicler. In some way I feel that my over 5894 blogs are a sort of chronicle of what happens in this city, forgotten by many, but also what I observe as the direction this century is going towards from my venture point of being a product of the last century.