thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
Keep Hoping Machine Running ([personal profile] thefourthvine) wrote2017-08-05 07:10 pm
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[Real Life] Telephones

(Trying to get back into the habit of posting, so this is a random piece of personal telephonic history!)

Lately, I’ve been in a bemusing battle of wills with my phone, where I tell it to sync certain songs and only those songs, and it does grab the ones I tell it to, but also randomly adds other songs from my music library, often ones I’ve never listened to. When I told Best Beloved about this, her take was that I should just live with it. I questioned the Queen of Solving Problems Right Now, Immediately, Using a Hatchet as Necessary on her surprising stance and she pointed out that she knew me in college. When I had the Let Me Call You Sweetheart phone.

See, my college did not have voicemail for landlines in the dorm, and this was back when people still used landlines sometimes. My parents, who were sending a 15 year old off to college, thought they might like to leave messages for me at some point, and so they bought me a combined phone/answering machine to take with me. And for a while, it worked as advertised: people called, I did not answer, they were invited to leave a message, they did, I sometimes listened to the message, I very occasionally called them back. (This is as good as it ever gets with me and telephones. Our relationship can best be described as “mutual disdain.” That’s also why I didn’t have a cell phone back then; smartphones hadn’t happened yet, and I could think of exactly zero reasons why I might want to be MORE available for phone calls.)

At some point late in the first semester, though, people who left messages started to sound a little amused. And then, after a month or so, they began sounding more … annoyed. I checked my outgoing message to make sure no one had recorded weird stuff on it, because, you know, college, but it was still normal and fine. So I shrugged and accepted it, until one of my friends suggested I call my own phone.

I did. The outgoing message played, exactly as recorded. But after it, I was treated to an extremely tinny instrumental version of “Let Me Call You Sweetheart” that sounded like it was played on the buttons of a phone, followed by the customary leave-a-message beep. Bewildered, I checked the box, which I had saved for moving convenience. No mention of “Let Me Call You Sweetheart.” No mention of it on the manufacturer’s website, either. My phone had apparently developed a musical mind of its own.

Huh, I thought, and went about my life.

A few weeks after that, people started sounding really annoyed in my messages. I called my phone again. It now sounded like this:

Me, in a recording: Hi! You’ve reached me, and you know what to do.
Phone: Let me CALL you SWEETheart/I’m in love with YOU/Let me hear you WHISper/That you love me too
[Pause, as though the phone is about to emit that life-giving leave-a-message beep]
Phone: Let me CALL you SWEETheart/I’m in love with YOU/Let me hear you WHISper/That you love me too
[Pause, which only serves to raise hopes that will soon be dashed]
Phone: Let me CALL you SWEETheart…
[Repeat a painful number of times]

Eventually, it broke off in the middle of a line and beeped.

Well. There are only so many times that you want to hear that song, that way, and my phone had begun exceeding people’s lifetime limits in the course of a single call. I apologized, but what could I do? You can’t reason with a phone.

The year ended. I packed the phone into its box and took it home with me for the summer, which it apparently spent plotting. Then I brought it back to school.

Shortly after the school year started, I discovered that my phone had developed a new glitch. If I did pick it up when it rang, I couldn’t hear the person on the other end. On the other hand, if I waited until the answering machine got it and then picked it up, I could hear them, but they couldn’t hear anything I said. However, after extensive experimentation, I discovered they could still hear the beeps if I pressed buttons on the phone. So, as any reasonable person would, I changed my outgoing message to:

“Hi! My phone is broken. If I pick up, I can hear you but you won’t hear me. I’ll beep to show I’m there. Ask yes or no questions and I’ll give one beep for yes and two beeps for no. Thanks!”

(If you are now going WHY DIDN’T YOU BUY A NEW PHONE? – it never even occurred to me. Technically, some communication was still possible with the phone, after all, and I inherited from my father a gene that makes me very anxious in the presence of new objects. This is why my family had a garage door that you could only make work by inserting a penny into the innards of the opener, and that often went up and down on its own, sometimes as many as 60 times in an evening. It’s why I kept, for over a year, a computer chair that would occasionally just collapse, dumping me on the floor, and why I’m sitting on a partially broken chair as I type this. It’s … just who my people are, I guess. We are not so much “make do and mend” as “it’s fine, everything is fine, please stop talking about buying new things because that is the worst thing in the world to do and I’d rather just sit on the floor in the dark forever.”)

This led to a period of my college career where, to call me, you had to:
  1. Sit through what was, by then, up to 15 minutes of “Let Me Call You Sweetheart.” (I know because people timed it, since there wasn’t a lot else to do, and then shared the times with me. I think maybe they were trying to suggest to me that I should buy a new phone, but that kind of subtlety was never going to work. I mean, I come from a family that could afford a new toaster and willingly chose to keep the old one, even though it caught fire from time to time, enlivening many a morning. “Let’s just get a new one” is not a phrase in my vocabulary.)
  2. Listen to my outgoing message.
  3. After the first beep, say, “Hello? Are you there? It’s me, please pick up.”
  4. Wait for the beep that would indicate that I had in fact picked up.
  5. Hold a séance-like session with me wherein you were restricted to yes or no questions or, in cases where that just would not work, you had to count beeps for each letter of the alphabet. (You know: A=1, B=2, etc. Let me tell you from grim experience: it takes a LONG time to beep out even a single word, and also you tend to forget where you are halfway through letters like M and T. I honestly take my hat off to the fraudulent mediums of old. They worked for their money, by gum.)
  6. Hope that the phone didn’t just cut out altogether in the middle of the séance, as it was known to do.
Basically, communicating with spirits was, overall, probably slightly easier than talking to me. I for real do not know why anyone bothered. They did, though, which shows you what excellent and patient friends and family I have had in my life.

If you’re wondering about the resolution of this odyssey of disintegrating telecommunications technology: eventually my parents got tired of only being able to communicate with their youngest child via beeps. My mother (who does not have the “hates new things” gene) suggested several times that I buy a new one, but I beeped twice for no each time, so she, in direct violation of our precious familial traditions, went out and bought a new one and sent it to me at school. I kept it in its box in my room and avoided looking directly at it for a week or so, but then word spread among my friends that I had a new phone and was still using Mr. Beepy, and they basically held a technological intervention until I installed the new phone. (It worked fine for a year and then developed a glitch where it clicked a lot and would only record the first 15 seconds of a message, and no one minded at all because at least it wasn’t playing “Let Me Call You Sweetheart.” My life motto: I can always get over the bar, because I dug a hole in the ground and buried it.)

But times change! Humans age and progress and develop workarounds for their flaws! Which is why, when BB and I were attempting to explain this telephonic family history to our nine-year-old earthling (challenging, as he has never known an answering machine or a time when humans made phone calls to humans other than their senators), we had this conversation, which tells you everything you need to know about the people we’ve become:

Me, thinking back: You know, I probably should have just bought a new phone instead of beeping at people for months.
BB, also thinking back: I should have just broken your phone completely after it started playing “Let Me Call You Sweetheart” more than once per call. I can’t believe I didn’t think of that.

Anyway. That was the start of my long and complex adult relationship with phones. I wended my way through many glitches and minor disasters to arrive where I currently am: in possession of a phone that has its own opinions about music. And, upon reflection, I am prepared to be satisfied with that.
uminohikari: (Default)

[personal profile] uminohikari 2017-08-06 02:29 am (UTC)(link)
I feel like the more efficient way to communicate via beeps would have been to acquire a morse code chart and then spell out words with that. Or, if different tones could be distinguished, perhaps a custom beep-to-letter mapping... I guess it says something about me that that was my first thought upon reading the post.
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[personal profile] soc_puppet 2017-08-06 03:03 am (UTC)(link)
That was my exact thought, too. "Wait, number of beeps? ...Did Morse code not occur to her?"
zeborah: I found this humerus (humorous)

[personal profile] zeborah 2017-08-06 02:30 am (UTC)(link)
I'm now laugh-sobbing hysterically in an airport departure lounge and daren't make eye contact with anyone around me.
lemon_badgeress: basket of lemons, with one cut lemon being decorative (Default)

[personal profile] lemon_badgeress 2017-08-06 04:16 am (UTC)(link)
I'm at home, but otherwise, SAME.

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[personal profile] out_there 2017-08-06 02:37 am (UTC)(link)
I love BBs response! Should have just destroyed the thing entirely.

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katherine: Girl with glasses: Fuzzy cat with a folded pair of glasses by her paw. (Default)

[personal profile] katherine 2017-08-06 02:41 am (UTC)(link)
A really fun thing of the past to read, thank you.
andraste: The reason half the internet imagines me as Patrick Stewart. (Default)

[personal profile] andraste 2017-08-06 02:46 am (UTC)(link)
My father is also a carrier of a 'hates new things' gene, in a variant specific to household objects and appliances. New shirt? Great, he'll take five! New DVR to replace the one that no longer Rs? IT IS EVIL.

This lead to a lot of arguments about my parents toaster once it started randomly setting stuff on fire. My mother eventually won because shutting the door between the toaster and the smoke alarm got to be too much trouble.

(Also: how is the Earthling nine years old??? This is completely unreasonable and should not be allowed.)
slvrbld47: John cups Rodney's face (Default)

[personal profile] slvrbld47 2017-08-06 02:46 am (UTC)(link)
Me TOO! At least I have the comfort of Home to Laugh/Sob Hysterically! The worst part is that avoidance of new things might be a German thing, or a Human thing, though I must admit no one in my family takes it that quite that far. My Mother has been known to call it, HAVING to LIVE With a NEW Thing for a while...

Great Post!

:D :D :D
celtprincess13: (Default)

[personal profile] celtprincess13 2017-08-06 02:50 am (UTC)(link)
You have the best stories.
raine: (Default)

[personal profile] raine 2017-08-06 02:51 am (UTC)(link)
With that long caveat in mind:

I had this issue and it took me a long time to figure out that the songs on my phone that I had downloaded onto the phone and not transferred to the phone via syncing were treated as if they were separate things. If you have specific items you want synced, check to see that you do not also have a list of items that are syncing as if they existed in a completely different cabinet in another room.


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[personal profile] sasha_feather 2017-08-06 02:55 am (UTC)(link)

My friend Jacquelyn tells me that 'Resistentialism is a jocular theory to describe "seemingly spiteful behavior manifested by inanimate objects," where objects that cause problems are said to exhibit a high degree of malice toward humans.'
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[personal profile] kathmandu 2017-08-06 02:55 am (UTC)(link)
By the time I reached the end of your post, I was laughing so hard tears were coming to my eyes. Thank you.
goss: (Cookie Monster - phone)

[personal profile] goss 2017-08-06 03:19 am (UTC)(link)
AHahaha. XD

(Also amused that I have an appropriate icon for this)
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[personal profile] jesse_the_k 2017-08-06 03:23 am (UTC)(link)
That was a cleansing experience, although both dog and bedmate are now hesitating to sleep since I may start cackling again.

"My life motto: I can always get over the bar, because I dug a hole in the ground and buried it." needs to be cross-stitched and mounted in the bathroom.

There is an iTunes setting "stuff any extra space with random music" which might be in play.

Thanks for a lovely night cap.
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[personal profile] starwatcher 2017-08-06 04:30 am (UTC)(link)
LOLOL! That story is a definite evening-brightener. It also took my mind off my aching back and glutes. (Too many hours of bending over to scoop tadpoles out of the wide-spreading sheet of shallow puddle -- which will evaporate too quickly -- and transfer them to the actual pool I made, where they'll have water and time to mature.) Thanks for sharing.
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[personal profile] lilysea 2017-08-06 04:49 am (UTC)(link)
(Too many hours of bending over to scoop tadpoles out of the wide-spreading sheet of shallow puddle -- which will evaporate too quickly -- and transfer them to the actual pool I made, where they'll have water and time to mature.)

Ooooooh, thank you for doing this work! ^_^

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marycontrary: (Default)

[personal profile] marycontrary 2017-08-06 04:48 am (UTC)(link)
I like hearing your stories -- thanks for the post!
lilysea: Mischievous (Mischievous)

[personal profile] lilysea 2017-08-06 04:50 am (UTC)(link)
Are you secretly The Bloggess's long lost sibling?

Because this sounds like something she would write! ^_^ :D
dine: (ginger beer)

[personal profile] dine 2017-08-06 04:59 am (UTC)(link)
I believe I have a variant of that gene, in that I also avoid new things, evenhen the original definitely isn't working properly. and when I *do* put a replacement into use finally, the original is often kept for a while, because maybe I'll need it again or something

as always, you are majorly skilled at telling fantastic tales based on odd or mundane events, and making them not only interesting but damn fun

also, how did the Earthling become nine?! that's just not right - he can't possibly be that old
isweedan: White jittering text "art is the weapon" on red field (Default)

[personal profile] isweedan 2017-08-06 05:05 am (UTC)(link)
This is a beautiful piece of comedic writing. I am full-body laughing over here! <333333
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[personal profile] northern 2017-08-06 05:15 am (UTC)(link)
That is a hilarious story! Thank you for sharing it.
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[personal profile] akamine_chan 2017-08-06 05:40 am (UTC)(link)
Oh, I so needed a laugh, and you provided! ty
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[personal profile] runpunkrun 2017-08-06 05:41 am (UTC)(link)

Also good to see you here!
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[personal profile] rydra_wong 2017-08-06 08:57 am (UTC)(link)
Also laughing until literally crying.

I inherited from my father a gene that makes me very anxious in the presence of new objects.

Likewise! This is why I grew up in a family that had developed coping strategies for this, including taking it as a given that potential new objects (such as clothing) should be bought and then placed in a drawer for weeks or months so that they could become visually familiar, at which point it might be possible to try using them.

Obviously, any new objects successfully put into use and accepted as tolerable then immediately had to be bought in bulk, so that there would be identical replacement back-ups for when the first one wore out (in case it had by then been discontinued, which would be a Crisis -- replacing a towelling dressing-gown in a very particular shade of yellow has been a recurrent challenge).
fred_mouse: cross stitched image reading "do not feed the data scientists" (Default)

[personal profile] fred_mouse 2017-08-07 04:47 am (UTC)(link)
Oh, the stash things before use gene -- I've got that one. One should always buy craft items months before they require use, because that whole idea of going out and buying fabric to make something gives me the heebie-jeebies. Sewing should only be done from the stash...
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[personal profile] raven 2017-08-06 11:11 am (UTC)(link)
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[personal profile] celli 2017-08-06 12:34 pm (UTC)(link)
fan-fucking-tastic. *g*
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[personal profile] vass 2017-08-06 12:41 pm (UTC)(link)
We are not so much “make do and mend” as “it’s fine, everything is fine, please stop talking about buying new things because that is the worst thing in the world to do and I’d rather just sit on the floor in the dark forever.”

Q. How many Englishmen does it take to change a lightbulb?
A. What do you mean, "change" it? It is a perfectly good bloody bulb. We have had it for a thousand years, and it has worked fine.

That was the start of my long and complex adult relationship with phones.

So I'm gathering that the fact that it was a phone, rather than practically anything else, did make it harder for you to countenance any changes that might have made it more functional?

I was about to ask, because I remember my own experiences in that short but horrible interlude between the advent of smartphones and the time before non-smart mobile phones became something ordinary people were expected to have.

I was at university during that era.

I left one phone in my backpack along with a music theory textbook and an orange. Did you know that it's possible to grow mould on a mobile phone? Neither did I.

A different phone... well, this was after I moved into my first solo apartment, and had a cat named Roland who thought he was Andres Serrano.

My mother: "You should take it in to the phone shop. Maybe they can get it working again."
Me: "It is literally dripping with urine. The SIM card is corroded."
My mother: "Maybe you could try a different technician if the ones there can't help you."
Me: "No technician is going to agree to work on a phone that's been soaked in pee."
My mother: "Are you sure?"

I'm not saying none of my other possessions ever grew mould or got cat pee on them, but in the case of mobile phones, the fact that it happened to something I regarded as one of technology's greatest crimes did make it harder for me to care.
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