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End Of Directory Symbolic Of Getting Older

Commentary By Jack Gurner

I’ve been fretting ever since I read that the white pages telephone directories are being discontinued in some parts of the country.

Now, don’t get upset just yet.  I have been assured by AT&T spokesperson Hood Harris that there are no plans to discontinue the printed directory in Mississippi. He told me that even in areas where they are cutting back, they still offer the residential directory to customers who ask for one.

I guess what really bothers me is that only about one to two percent of customers even bother to request a copy. What does it say about my demographic that I want a printed book? I still like to flip through the pages to look up numbers.

Another thing that gets me is how smug the experts are. One of those smarty pants college professors, Robert Thompson who teaches pop culture at Syracuse University, made this comment: “Anybody who doesn’t have access to some kind of online way to look things up now is probably too old to be able to read the print in the white pages anyway.”

I guess he hit a little too close to home. I do have a hard time seeing those tiny numbers without my reading glasses.

Perhaps the telephone directory is just the latest in a long list of things that are going by the wayside. So far this year I have learned of the demise of cursive writing and the multiplication tables. There go writing and arithmetic. What’s next, reading?

To be honest, I don’t suppose I feel any different than the way my grandparents felt as they watched their familiar things disappear.  I suppose I am lucky since I like technology. I’m comfortable with the computer and I use the Internet as a resource.

But, it is nice every once in a while to just slow down and look for a name and number in the telephone book. I usually run across someone I haven’t thought about in a while. Or, I get distracted by another letter in the alphabet and go look for someone totally unrelated to my original search.

Before you know it, I don’t even remember who I was looking for originally or why I needed their number. That’s when I can relax and just go back to my nap.

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