Once upon a time, the phone book was useful

Posted on 04/25/2020

A few weeks ago, the latest edition of the local phone book lobbed on our front doorstep.

It was a bit smaller than it once was –back in the day it made a bloody great thump when it landed on your doorstep.

You could be inside with the door shut and you would still know the phone book had arrived.

Not so much any more. These days, you don’t know it’s been delivered until you walk out the door and find this tiny little book sitting on the porch.

For many people the phone book is now a great big anachronism.

No doubt the younger generations look at it with the same sense of confusion they have for cassettes, floppy discs and actual landline phones with rotary dials.

And so the phone book comes off the front doorstep and straight out the back door and into the recycling bin.

Which always strikes me as a little sad. Which is why I tend to hang onto them for a while before flinging them into the bin.

That’s because there was a time when the phone book really meant something.

For starters, it was an easy way to find out where someone lived because the phone books not only carried a person’s phone number but their address as well.

There was also a great sense of independence that came with getting your phone number listed for the first time –which only ever needed to happen when you moved out of your parents’ house and into your own place.

If you were moving into a share house, there may even have been an argument over who got to have their name in the book.

If you’d rung someone in the Yellow Pages and they were spectacularly unhelpful, you could cross out their name as a warning to other phone book users.

These days it seems they’re only good for weighing down the papers in your recycling bin –which is a bit of a shame.