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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

You're nobody 'til the new phone book just ignores you

Friday, February 1, 2013

Like it or not, we're living in the golden age of communication.

And while that certainly has its advantages, it has its inherent disadvantages as well.

For you can now reach me any time, day or night, via email (several address versions actually), tweet, text, cell phone, fax or home phone.

Knock on my door. Call out my name. Scroll it across the bottom of the TV screen or put it up in lights on message boards at the fairgrounds, high school or any bank. You've found me.

But just don't try to find me in the latest telephone books.

The countywide Putnam County phone book from Impact Directory Publishing Group arrived in my mailbox yesterday. Colorful in yellow and black with a pretty flower photo on the cover, it proudly proclaims the book as the 16th edition of the phone directory.

It includes community information, money-saving coupons and a numeric cross-reference section. Or so the cover boasts.

It has businesses that aren't in business anymore. The Monon, for example, is in the yellow pages (don't you have to pay to be in there, by the way?) and it closed on Labor Day 2011 (I was the final customer, for crying out loud!).

It has residents who are no longer among us. Some have moved. Some are gone. And dare I say it ... I see dead people.

But what the new phone book no longer has is my name and telephone number. Not in the white pages. Not even numerically in the cross-reference section.

Not in the Frontier book either. Nowhere. No how.

There was a time that I would have been heartbroken by such an omission. Being listed in the phone book has always been one of the simple things in life we could all count on.

And admit it, we've all done it, pulled that directory out of the mailbox and immediately flipped to the page with our name. "Yep, I'm in there ..." There's always been some satisfaction to that.

Take, for example, the stupidly silly Steve Martin movie, "The Jerk." There's a legendary scene in which Martin's Navin R. Johnson character is overcome with glee and emotion at the mere arrival of the phone book.

"The new phone book's here!" Johnson/Martin shouts as he rifles through the pages to find his name. "I'm in print! Things are going to start happening to me now.

"I'm somebody now," he boasts. "Millions of people look at this book every day. This is just the kind of spontaneous publicity -- your name in print -- that makes people."

It's about that time, I believe, that a sniper starts shooting at Johnson/Martin after finding his name in the phone book.

For me, it's one year I'm right there on page 8, tucked in between Berish and a bunch of Berrys. And the next, I'm gone ... and all too young, too.

Discarded. Forgotten. Unceremoniously dumped. Excommunicated even.

It's like being on the business end of the no-call list. Somewhat disconcerting as well, and eerily a little like reading your own obit.

After all, my number is the still same. I've never asked for it to be unlisted. Always paid my bill on time.

Sure I'm on the famed no-call list, but that's been to keep away the telemarketers, not the blondes, brunettes or redheads.

I'm thinking somebody must know something I don't. Maybe the phone company's put out a hit on me in retaliation for bundling our phone service with Internet and cable through Comcast (or Xfinity as it's now known, I guess).

So the moral to this story is really quite simple: If you can't call us, we won't call you ...

Or as they say in the ads, "Thanks, Yellow Book."