Thursday, October 19, 2006

Telecommunication made easy

I'm old enough to remember a kitchen without a microwave oven, but I've always been able to reach anyone by phone. Granted, the first phone numbers I learned had letters in them--the phone number from most of my childhood was PY1-3567, which did become more commonly referred to as 791-3567. And yes, I had an area code--516. But this format remained the same as the years went by and my numbers changed.

Then numbers got longer. When you dialed out of your area code, you had to add a 1 before dialing the number. Of course, by then you weren't dialing you were pushing buttons. But all in all, not so radical a change.

Living with Ken means we make international calls more often--New Zealand, Australia, and the occasional England call. To make those calls, you have to add lots of numbers--country codes and city codes. Plus the Australians now have 8 digits in their numbers, not 7. Having to add all those numbers makes sense to me--after all, you'll connecting to a system half a world away. But yesterday, my phone world shrunk.

Ken is in New Zealand staying his parents while his sister takes some time off to go to a friend's wedding. He's alerted his clients that he will be away, but they still can get in touch with him by cell phone. The last time we were both in New Zealand using our respective phones and I needed to call him, I had to dial--actually, enter, we don't dial anymore-- lots of numbers from my cell to connect to his. Somehow I thought that's what his clients had to do. But last night when I wanted to see how his plane trip went, I just entered his normal 7-digit cell number. First I heard the normal US ring sound, then it switched to the more staccato New Zealand ring sound, and then Ken picked up. I made the call wondering if it would work, and was surprised when it did.

It's times like this I begin to realize the many years I've been around . . .

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