In the last couple of days, I’ve noticed something odd when calling businesses. Auto-attendants inform callers to “dial” a particular extension for assistance or to leave a message. Even at a local computer store, the recorded message told me to “dial” a specific number for tech support. Do I need to update my smartphone? Is rotary dialing making a comeback? Is “Dialing for Dollars” still around? – Susan Rose
Now that you put a finger on it, well over half of the population has no first-hand experience (so to speak) with dialing using a digit. Yet we call it the Digital Age!
Check out this hilarious video that went viral earlier this year. It shows two 17-year-old boys trying to figure out how to use rotary phone.
In addition to the befuddling round thingy with holes, the hum of a dial tone flummoxes the youngsters.
But when you think about it, what other once-common sounds would confound a generation?
Consider the clack of typewriters. Or the grinding of a flash cube forwarding on an Instamatic camera.
How about the ding-ding of a gas station service bell? Or the pulsing scratch of a phonograph needle at the end of a black disc called an “album”?
Language always lags technology.
Online communication is still called “mail.” We just put an “e” in front of it.
We have “contacts” stored in our phones, yet we never actually physically touch them.
Heck, we rarely speak face-to-face with contacts. But when we need to “reach out,” we text them.
The phrase “text” shows the trending verbification of nouns.
Supervisors “incentivize” employees, marketers “action” the brand and athletes “medal” when they “podium.”
For more examples, Google “verbify.”
As the Calvin and Hobbs comic famously observed, “verbing weirds language.”
In any case, let’s press pound for more options.
Action Line is a smooth operator when it comes to phonics of telephony.
In the bad-old days, calls were placed manually by a central switchboard exchange.
The “finger-wheel phone dial” only became commonplace in 1919, when the Bell System rolled out the Western Electric model 50AL, the squatty black phone with a handset on top.
Thus “dialing” was around (pun intended) for a half century.
Then push-button phones of the late 1970s pretty much pushed out the dial mechanism.
Some 20 years later, cellphones struck a chord and people began cord-cutting.
Today, you can make a “rotary call” with your smartphone. Here’s how:
Dial (or press or enter) (970) 759-5609 and speak with our good friend and all-around nice guy Richie Fletcher.
He’s the president of the Durango Daybreak Rotary Club.
Richie welcomes Rotary calls, especially from folks looking for a top-notch organization that helps make our community and world a much better place.
“So, Richie ... Did Rotary have anything to do with rotary phones,” we asked.
“Not a bit,” Richie said with a laugh. “Good try, though.”
Daybreak Rotary meets at 6:45 a.m. Wednesdays at the Durango Community Recreation Center.
If that’s too early for you iPhone’s alarm app, Durango has two other Rotary clubs.
High Noon Rotary meets at 11:45 a.m. at the DoubleTree Hotel. (Shouldn’t it be called the 15 Minutes Before High Noon Rotary?)
For evening meetings, Durango Rotary gathers at 5:30 p.m. at the Strater Hotel.
There’s also Rotary Clubs in Bayfield, Dolores, Cortez and Pagosa Springs, as well as 35,000 other locations worldwide.
If you hear the call to serve, give them a ring.
And it doesn’t matter which kind of phone you use.
Email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail them to Action Line, The Durango Herald, 1275 Main Ave., Durango, CO 80301. You can request anonymity if you recall how ‘Dialing for Dollars’ is trying to find Janis Joplin in her song “Mercedes Benz.”