In order to "program" the VCR for recording and saving a particular show, a prescribed list of options had to be addressed, via a menu. That, of course, was mere child's play compared with the flood of electronic technology which eventually came zooming down the information highway invading my heretofore tranquil and uncomplicated "communication space."
First, there came the telephone answering device which requested that the caller leave his name, telephone number and a brief message after the beep. Then, caller I.D. was deemed a must so incoming calls could be answered, monitored or ignored.
After that, things got a little more complicated, especially in the professional market place and in the world of business. We eventually learned to live with voice mail as a necessary part of modern life. One just doesn't call anything or anybody directly anymore.
Invariably, there are options and menu choices, which must be suffered through in order to reach any of the following: the pharmacist, the doctor, the insurance agent, the theater ticket box office, the bank, hospitals, governmental offices and officials, chain stores and even churches in larger cities.
Believe me, I can remember a time when telephone communication was a great deal more simple. In the days before rotary phones, a live operator took your call with a cheerful, "Number, please."
The caller might even have spoken to "central" and called her by name, as my grandmother almost always did and said something like, "Angie, ring Harry. I want to tell him to bring home a loaf of bread." Harry, of course, was her husband and Angie knew the number, 177, by heart.
Also, it is part of Cumberland Avenue lore, that one mother pulled the bassinet over to the wall, dropped the receiver down close to the baby and told the same Angie, I'm stepping across the street to Bertha Nolan's. If the baby cries, ring 120."
Person to person telephone connections years ago didn't Person to person telephone connections years ago didn't require a menu. They only required ringing up the operator and telling her the numbers, which were relatively small. The Methodist parsonage was number 10; Daddy's office was 55-W, for example.
A friend of mine from Arizona and I were discussing this very subject not long ago on the telephone. Shortly afterward, I received this from her in the mail, via the U.S. Postal Service. She has no idea who wrote it. We both agreed it was rather clever and somewhat thought provoking.
Have you ever wondered what it would be like if God installed voice mail?
"Thank you for calling My Father's House. Please select one of the following options:
Press 1 for requests
Press 2 for Thanksgiving
Press 3 for complaints
Press 4 for all other inquiries
"I'm sorry, all of our angels are busy helping sinners right now. However, your prayer is important to us and will be answered in the order it was received, so, please stay on the line."
"If you would like to speak to:"
God, press 1
For Jesus, press 2
For the Holy Spirit, press 3
If you would like to hear King David sing a Psalm while you are holding, press 4
To find out if a loved one has been assigned to Heaven, press 5, enter his/her Social Security No., or any other 16-digit ID, then press the pound key. (If you get a negative response, try area code 666)."
"For reservations at My Father's House, please enter J-O-H-N 3-1-6"
"For answers to nagging questions about dinosaurs, the age of the Earth and where Noah's Ark is, please wait until you arrive here."
"Our computers show that you have already prayed once today. Please hang up and try again tomorrow."
"This office is closed for the weekend to observe a religious holiday. Please pray again Monday after 9:30 a.m. If you need emergency assistance when this office is closed, contact your local pastor."
I dare not even speculate on the electronic options connected with becoming computer literate.
For the time being my favorite menu is a Blue Plate Special: one meat, two vegetables, a salad and unsweetened tea.