Letter to the Editor

It could have been my undoing

Wednesday, October 6, 2010
Jamie Barrand

One evening not too long ago, two of my girlfriends and I were having a three-way phone conversation.

We all used to call each other once a week, but we have really busy lives. So when we discovered three-way calling, we were ecstatic. All of us being able to talk at once would save us so much time.

As we were talking this last time, I mused, "Can you imagine if we had had this in high school? We never would have graduated."

Knowing the kind of kid I was and the kinds of kids my friends were, I think a lot of these new-fangled inventions could easily have been our undoing.

Today, kids can get a hold of their friends any time, because 9 out of 10 of them have cell phones.

We had to use rotary phones to call one another. Sometimes you got lucky enough to catch them on the first try.

That was the best case scenario.

Three other annoying things could happen: You could get a busy signal, you could pick up your phone only to discover someone who shared your party line was using it or it would ring into infinity (very few people had answering machines in the early- to mid-1980s ... at least not in Quincy, Mich.).

No one has to do that anymore. Between call waiting, instant messaging and voicemail, I doubt any teenage girl waits for a callback from another teenager girl any longer than five minutes.

And texting? Holy cow.

We were a group of girls who got to school at least a half-hour early so we had time to talk.

We had many of the same classes together, and since our time before school was short, we would often have to pass notes to continue our conversations. If the friend you wanted to keep talking to was not in the same class with you, you wrote a note anyway and gave it to her between classes.

There was no bigger adrenaline rush than passing a note in class, hoping against hope the teacher wouldn't see the exchange.

I know kids can't text in school, but I have to imagined they're doing it. It's their version of passing notes.

But I think our way of doing it was a much bigger challenge.

We'd talk again at lunch, and of course there would be conversations that needed to be continued through afternoon notes.

Then we'd get home from school, and start in on the phone thing again ... enduring the busy signals and lack of answering machines.

Kids have a much easier time staying in touch these days.

Jamie Barrand is the editor of the Banner Graphic.