By Walt Trandum
A little over 30 years ago my wife and I decided to build a home. In the beginning the plan was to make it small and a place where we could enjoy the fishing and other activities that go along with week end and summer living on the coast. With a lot of other activities and travel It was a slow process and by the time it was all finished we had decided to sell the big house in Portland and make this our home base. I think what happened was I caught a 40 lb salmon and my fate was sealed. Having all the fresh crabs and clams that we could eat was another factor.
Since I was an old telephone person I made sure that the new house was wired so there was a phone in every room and in the adjacent pole barn garage and shop building. When I was working on the place it was pretty handy when there was a call. For the time it was overkill but staying in touch with family and all the people we worked with in the Lions Club and other activities was pretty important. This was a bit past the time when they came out with those walk around telephones that became popular. The first one we had was guaranteed to work up to 150 feet and that was a bit of a stretch. I seem to remember returning it because it just didn’t work very well. Who could imagine we would ever see what has happened in the phone world.
After retirement I ran across some old telephone company friends who had made some decisions that came back to bite them. The phone companies were selling their pay phone stations to investors who would in turn service them and collect the money. We all know what happened to most of those and I even saw one pictured as a rare sight place on the internet.
All this phone chatter brings me to the point that I intended to make with this little story. Old age has finally brought me to realize that life can go on without all that chatter on the phone. Most of the people we worked and played with in the past have all gone away and the calls we do receive are from family members checking up on us. Once in a great while I do get a phone call from an old friend who calls to see if I noticed the obituary of one of our mutual acquaintances.
Not too many of the people I know who are still around do much with a computer and they must be much more lonesome than I have been feeling. When I do have a conversation with someone we always end up discussing health issues. The most exciting ones are when we find out that we share a malady or symptom of some kind.
Life is a bit of a bore when you are no longer involved in the action. I guess that is the one thing over and above the health and financial planning that got us this far, that was never discussed. We used to play cribbage every evening and that is no longer possible so television is our main source of both entertainment and information. If you are full time participant the repetition of programs is pretty maddening. The commercials are the worst and you find yourself mouthing the words before the actors can get them out. I called one of the television companies and asked them if they realized they were playing the same programs this week as they did last week. Their reply was that all that was out of their hands and was controlled by the corporations in some other part of the country.
So being lonely is a bad part of getting old , but we did have a pleasant surprise a couple weeks ago when we were having our weekly restaurant dinner. When I asked for the check the waitress told me that somebody had picked it up and our dinner was free. What a nice feeling to know that someone exercised that act of kindness. That was the first time anything like that ever happened so there are still some good people that didn’t even ask us to vote for them!
So here we are surrounded by telephones and even the one in a pocket that seldom ring and maybe that is a good thing. We don’t have to worry about something we might be asked to do when we are not so busy!