On Phonebooks

phone book 003

While rummaging around, looking for things to purge, I came across an old personal phone book. I don’t know where I purchased it, because dollar stores didn’t exist back in those days.  It could have been some other discount chain, maybe BiWay or something like that.  Based on some of the names inside, I know I started using it in high school–though I only a smattering of names from that time.  This is not surprising as I knew my best friends’ and family member’s telephone numbers by heart, and was probably too shy to ask the girls I had crushes on for their phone numbers. Luckily we had a big white telephone book for my somewhat small town.  One did not have to be Encyclopaedia Brown to figure out who was whom.

A few months ago my mother asked me to look in my local dollar store for a phone book. She is big on the “scraps of paper” method, which sees her constantly rummaging around in a piles of paper on her coffee table, desk, kitchen table, drawer–you get the idea.  I guess she was going to finally start putting them in some kind of order (though I doubted she would then throw out the scraps of paper).  Nonetheless, I came up empty handed.  I guess most people are using their phones these days and have no need of a paper based phone book.   My mother has a Smartphone, but hat doesn’t stop her from making piles of scrap paper.

I looked through this phone book that I haven’t used in more than a decade, and decided it was time for it to go. It was being held together by cellophane tape and rubber bands.  I guess I wasn’t in my MacGyver phase, or didn’t have any duct tape. I note that I had phone numbers under all the letter except E,F,X and Z.  With the advent of cell phones, I doubt anyone’s phone number is the same.  Sadly, there are a couple of people who I would like to contact out of nostalgia–yeah, yeah.  Lost loves and missed chances.

I had obviously taken the phone book to Japan.  It had a bunch of Japanese names, and locations of stores and businesses I used frequently.  These included my travel agent Siobhan, the names of the various movie theatres with crude maps (addresses being somewhat difficult in Osaka and Japan as a whole),  the address of where I worked,  some restaurants that I loved, students and acquaintances.

So, the phone book joins the list of relics along with pagers, VHS cassettes and 35mm film cameras. Though there might always be purists who want these last things, perhaps the phone book is gone forever.


About Anthony

I am: equal parts rebel, romantic and shockingly average Joe. a writer trapped inside of an ESL teacher's body. an introverted attention seeker. a teacher who hopes one day to be called "Captain, my Captain." an intellectual who can do some very dumb things. a person whose Japan experience, despite being so long ago, still exerts a strong influence upon him. a lover of books, music, beer, hockey and Pizza.
This entry was posted in Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, decluttering, memories, memory, nostalgia and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to On Phonebooks

  1. Heide says:

    Your phone book sounds like a real treasure, Anthony — half record-keeper, half time machine. It makes me sad that we’re losing these tangible reminders of our lives (scrawled in our own handwriting) as everything becomes electronic. Alas … that’s progress, isn’t it?

    • Anthony says:

      Now I regret getting rid of it. Perhaps that is why I needed to write about it.
      We are definitely losing a tactile portion of history. In fact, we are losing a tactile portion of life. Maybe it’s offset by the gains in our digital life. It is somewhat less romantic, though.
      The worst thing I have heard is that digital files are less durable than other media. Not only do they degrade faster, but our ability to access them becomes less likely as technology changes so fast.

      • Heide says:

        It’s true that digital files are less durable than other media: Just yesterday I discovered that a bunch of old recordings had disappeared forever from my iTunes because of a bug in the new release that doesn’t recognize “legacy” files. And this morning a friend wrote to ask whether I’d saved a portion of his manuscript, because his hard drive crashed! Of course, written records can also disappear due to loss or water or fire … so I suppose the moral of the story is to always keep a back-up. In your case at least, that back-up lives in the form of happy memories — and that’s something that at least you’ll never lose.

  2. A touching post. and one to which I can relate for I too have a “bricks-and-mortar” personal phone/address book full of mostly outdated names and addresses (many from my Japan life, like yours). Despite being an anti-clutter nazi, I haven’t the heart yet to throw it out — or at least move the few remaining active contacts into a new and smaller address book. Your post reassures that I should keep it, so thanks for that! 🙂 And the post. 🙂

    • Anthony says:

      If you are as good at decluttering as you have explained in the past (and I believe you are) there is probably room in your life for a phone book.

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