How Did We Survive Before Cell Phones?

(upbeat electronic music) – Welcome to Ear Biscuits, I’m Rhett – And I’m Link This week at the round table of dim lighting, we’re asking the question how did we survive before cell phones? – Or mobile phones – Or smart phones Mobile phones – Or, no, that’s all I can think of – I think that’s what we call phones – Yeah this is a little something that we’re gonna try today, a little something different where we’re actually going to, we’re calling this a nostalgia, a nostalgia tour How do you say that word? – Nostalgia – You don’t say nostalgia – Nostalgia, no – Yeah ’cause it’s like when you get nauseous thinking about things from the past, you get nostalgious (chuckles) – I didn’t know that I felt that sometimes, but I do, I mean we may feel that over the course of reminiscing over our relationship with phones before cell phones – That’s an interesting term, relationships – Because I just might feel sick to my stomach that this is how we used to live or that I wish I still lived that way I haven’t quite figured that out but what I do know is, frequently on Ear Biscuits, we’ll reminisce about things so I just thought let’s reminisce within this category of what phones used to be like – Right and so we’ve thought of some things like, remember when– – Well don’t say ’em yet – I’m not, I’m gonna make blanks I’m just making blanks – ‘Cause I have my list, you have your list – Remember when blankety-blank-blank blanka-blank-blank phones? So that’s how it’s gonna be and then it’ll be like, remember when blankety-blank-blank blank phones – Right – But before we reminisce, let’s talk about the present-day I mean let’s talk about the reality of being tethered – Yeah I mean– – Ironically, you’re tethered wirelessly, wirelessly tethered Think about that, put that on a t-shirt I’m tethered to a wireless phone – That’s not really a sellable t-shirt I don’t think Yeah last night Christy and I went out on a date and we’re driving to the restaurant, I mean, when we’re at the table having a date, we’re not that couple who’s just on our phones and not talking to each other But there are some times when something will come up in conversation and the phone will become a third party to our date, like a third wheel where it’s like, oh there’s unlimited information on this thing But– – The challenge is if you have to go to the phone in the midst of a conversation which happens often and there are legitimate reasons to defer to the internet in the midst of a conversation, often during an argument to get to a fact Argue with my wife all the time about facts (chuckles) No I don’t, you know, just any time you need to reference something The temptation once you have access to all the information in the world, you get your information and you’re like, well what’s on Twitter? Did somebody like my photo? – We were driving – Can’t do that – We were driving and we were already having a serious, not a, we weren’t having an argument – Just a serious– – We were having like a– – Discussion – Let’s share things that are in our hearts and minds with each other Let’s get into that mode even before we’re at the restaurant – Did it happen naturally or did you prompt it like a youth pastor? – I’d like to share something from my heart and mind – Or was it just natural? – It was just natural– – Good – Our relationship is as vibrant as ever and that’s not facetious even though it sounded that way (Rhett chuckles) Yeah we were just talking – You were just talking like two normal people on a date – And I look over and she’s on her phone – Oh– – Unlike me, she can do more than one thing at once So I do respect that – She’s also, she’s not driving so – And she’s not driving I was driving and talking, that’s two things – Well you don’t do that well – I was kind of making an introspective point and I thought it was a very great opportunity for connection and she was listening but when I looked over there and she was on her phone, I was like, do you have to be on your phone right now, I’m kinda trying to make a point about something This feels important to me and she’s like well– – Look at this dog hug this cat – No, she was actually talking to the babysitter, coordinating the time that we would come back home so it was a legitimate exercise but I was like, ’cause she was like, she has to leave and now I know when we’re getting back and I have to tell her and she needs to know right now So I was barking up the wrong tree but I did feel like, you know, before the cell phone, you would coordinate all that, you’d have to go through all these great lengths to do it but you weren’t constantly in conversation – Well and once you were gone, you were gone You were gone – Yeah Unless it was an emergency Even if it was – What’d you do? Tell people what restaurant you’re going to I guess some parents did We were never parents without cell phones,

so we don’t know what it was like to be a parent First of all, I don’t remember my parents having a date night That’s like a modern invention. (chuckles) But would they have told a babysitter, they probably said, this is what we’re going to do and this is when we’re going to be back But they didn’t say– – I’m paying you to be completely in charge – Yeah, right, handle everything – I’m not paying you to then text me with every little thing – Sidebar I mean, your daughter is 15 years old – Yeah – Why doesn’t she just do the babysitting? She doesn’t wanna take care of the kids? – Well that’s a good question That just doesn’t work a lot of times I’ll just put it that way – ‘Cause I’m thinking about instituting my date night and just not having any childcare – Oh, we do that The kids are old enough to take care of themselves or Lily and Lincoln to help watch over Lando, but none of them can drive and there’s like logistics that are happening like they had to go to different places and stuff like that – Right – So we have– – Sometimes you gotta cover it with an adult – We have an ongoing arrangement so then she helps out with things like date night too but it’s a much larger scope than that But I look over at Christy, I’m like okay, okay, I’m not gonna jump down your throat about this But then I swear when I looked over there again, she was on Instagram I think so – Oh my wife is constantly on Well what my wife found this year was Twitter and that is just, I mean, she’s a Twitter hawk, man – But when there’s, and it’s not like when we have a spare moment, you just find yourself reaching for your phone and (mimics whip lashing) pulling that thing out I mean it’s almost a mindless reflex to pull that thing out – Oh yeah In fact– – Beyond it – I saw somebody tweet the other day, do you remember what it was like to just poop? – Yeah without being on your phone – You know, what was it like to just poop? Now I’ve made repeated pledges to myself to not surf while pooping But I just can’t stick to it, man – Have you tried putting, have you tried pudding? Have you tried putting– – Pudding It goes right through ya – (chuckles) Have you tried putting a book on the back of the toilet? And then you’re tempted to read it Have you tried that? – Yeah well I used to read books – But I mean now that – I used to read books on the toilet, let me clarify – Have you tried pulling the phone, putting the phone away and pulling out a book? – Not since the phone was a thing I’ve taken a book to the crapper – Yeah but then you’re on it too long Like the phone is the perfect thing, you just get a little taste of– – You shouldn’t do any of that though because sometimes you get into an Instagram hole– – And you’re sitting there – Next thing you know, you got hemorrhoids You just can’t do that, man You shouldn’t even take it in there It shouldn’t work, it should be like those grocery stores that have some kind of scrambler on the phones I’m just convinced What’s happening in grocery stores? There’s a scrambler on the phones – They put one in the DMV, I can pretty much believe that – I’m pulling up recipes because I’m at the freakin’ grocery store and I got no service, I got like one X What’s happening there? – I don’t think they have any reason to block like cell signal in there I think it’s the exposed steel of the ceiling – You think it’s being blocked by just the structure – But that wouldn’t make sense – Well how come you get cell phone signals while in buildings and offices– – All types of structure – Like on the first floor of a large office building, your cell phone works Why doesn’t it work in a grocery store? – Must be the groceries – And just the grocery– – I think it’s the food – You think food is absorbing the cell signals? Yeah, maybe chips ’cause there’s a lot of chips The chips aisle has gotten nothing but chips – Have you correlated the signal to going in certain aisles? – I’ve definitely never gotten it in the chips aisle – Hmm, I don’t know I can pull out my phone right now and Google it but I’m not going to – I think we should just put our phones in a bag of chips and see if it works – I mean this podcast is an exercise in I was gonna say stamina but restraint is the word I’m looking for Sometimes it’s an exercise in stamina – Stamina – (chuckles) I think some listeners are nodding their head right now like yeah, I can barely get through this But, restraint, because we’re not going to our phones, we’re just having a conversation for like an hour with each other, every week Boy that’s healthy – I put my phone on airplane mode when I do this or airport mode

as you would say – Yeah I do – When I’m doing a podcast That’s what I do Well let’s reminisce – Yeah ’cause I’ve got a list of things just not, it’s not in direct contrast to the mobile phones, it’s things that are like, until I started thinking about it, things I just almost forgot existed Like the way my life and the world used to operate was so different – Yes and you’ll find out all about that in a second, but first, we wanna let you know where you can get this snazzy hoodie that Link is wearing – Look at that – Which sometimes, for some reason I call hoodies beanies They got a weird thing in my brain that wants me to call a hoodie beanies – Never been a beanie – Yeah ’cause I love beanies so much – There’s nothing like just wearing a shirt and then realizing I could cover my head with part of this shirt – And this hoodie has the latest in hoodie technology It’s called the drawstring Look at that It’s a string that goes through the hood It can be tied, it can be left hanging It can hang at different lengths, at which point it will distress some people depending on their personality and disposition – Now my son told me that if you tie your hoodies strings, that means you’re in a relationship – Psh – And if you don’t– – There’s always something – It means that you’re not You’re single, you’re dangling, but then, or you’re tied up – Well okay, you know what– – It makes sense – You know what else they’re doing, at least– – Dangling or tied up – They’re doing it in North Carolina because I learned this from my nephews If you’re in a relationship, you wear the girl’s scrunchie as a wristband – Is that right? – You were a wristband And apparently it’s color coded Like a certain color is, but definitely, the scrunchie on, she gives you the scrunchie it’s like exclusive – Ooh, I’ve been scrunchied All right, go to Mythical.store and get– – Scrunchies Hey we need to start selling scrunchies Eh, that’s what the youth are into – Always looking for something– – Relationship scrunchies Okay, did you say the website? Mythical.store – Mythical.store I said So we got our lists here Let’s see, I mean I’ve got mine in no particular order You wanna go first, I don’t know Hit me with one Let’s reminisce – I’m gonna start with payphones – Oh payphones – Remember payphones? – Not even phones at home – The phones you had to pay for – I’m gonna grab my dog – Yeah she’s usually so docile and just likes to sit in your lap but she seems concerned about something – She was afraid to come up here – She’s intimidated by the new innovation in hoodies Let me just give you a couple facts Well you know what, let’s just see how bad you are with the numbers ’cause that’s always entertaining How many– ♪ I’m at a payphone ♪ – In 1999– – How did that song even work? – In 1999, how many payphones were there in the United States of America? – Well there’s 50 states I would say there’s probably In what year? – 1999 – Oh, 99 – 20 years ago – Yeah but cell phones existed then – Cell phones were not in wide use at that point – A quarter of a, half a million payphones in operation, or in existence? – Not a distinction, just in operation – Well hold on, a lot– – We’re not talking about like apocalyptic ones and next to the salt and sea or something I’m rounding up – Quarter of a million – Two million – Two million? – Two million in 1999 And then how many in March of 2018? – Well they’re all still there They’re just not working – How many are in service? Many of them are not in service anymore but how many of them are in service in– – 50,000 – Oh, yeah not bad 100,000 So there’s 100,000 payphones Now this is super interesting A fifth of them are in the state of New York A fifth of all payphones that are active are in the state of New York, and– – I wonder why – They, now, doesn’t it seem like it would be something logical if I told you like, there’s 100,000 payphones left and I got this all from a CNN money article by the way I’m not just making this up If I told you there’s only 100,000 payphones left in the United States and they’re all owned by one billionaire or all owned by one company, that seems like, yeah, there’s one person who got into this old technology – Yeah – No Those 100,000 payphones are controlled

by 1100 independent providers That was fascinating to me – I mean when is the last time you used a payphone and I don’t even remember really using payphones much like back in the day – Well I’m about to blow your mind because it’s still a business, at least in 2015 it was I don’t know how many were in operation, not many more than there are now In 2015, those payphones in operations generated $286 million in revenue – You talking coinage going into the machines? – Well I guess possibly maybe collect calls would also go into that number – Okay – I guess, I’m assuming ’cause it’s the same provider – Wow – This is just fascinating me So they’re very useful still in certain situations like when you’re out of range, like apparently, the payphones in Yosemite Valley are very, very, there’s a guy who owns those – Ah – And he makes a bunch of money off those – That makes sense – Because– – There’s no service – Cell phones don’t work in these national parks Also disasters like when phones are, the cell networks are overwhelmed or if there’s like a disaster and they’re completely capacitated, payphones are very useful So you would think that, okay, we’ve kind reached some sort of stasis, 100,000 payphones, probably what we need in case of emergency, but there’s a weird law that the FCC passed that I didn’t really read enough about it to know exactly what was going on but it essentially has to do with the auditing that is required and apparently the auditing that is required for these payphones by the companies who are servicing them costs more than they’re generating and so now, it’s becoming an unsustainable business and payphones are going out of business Not the business to get into unless they’re able to talk to FCC at least as of March of last year out of this weird regulation – I don’t know what they’re auditing – I think it’s to make sure that the right parties are paid for the phone calls, like the collect calls, the calls that cost money that’s not coinage I don’t know, again, I didn’t read that much about it, I just know that they’re going away but having read about them, I began to think I should be using payphones more often – Why? I mean do you have a strong memory of having a great experience in a payphone booth? – I’ve never had a great experience in a payphone booth – But I mean, I was always afraid to touch it, like put it up to my ear, it just seems– – You don’t have to touch it, you can just get a nice distance – They were very weighty, like I remember the few times you pick up a, just next time you go by a payphone– – Well of course they are – Just pick it up and pick up that receiver and that thing is heavy – Do you know why it’s gotta be so durable? Think of all the people who– – Yeah people just– – Slamming it against, slamming it down on the thing after a bad phone call – Yeah ’cause a lot of the times you’re in some sort of frustrated situation On a payphone trying to call home – I’d like to have a phone that durable at home – Well you could probably buy a payphone and hook it up at your house – I’m sure there’s somebody – You don’t have a landline, do you? – I do – You do? – I do and I’m gonna talk– – I had a landline – I’m gonna talk about my landline in the context of another, do you remember so-and-so? – Well the one on my list that you’re reminding me of is beepers Remember beepers? – Beepers, man – So before– – Beepers, the new jeepers – AKA pagers, before cell phones came about and even as they were starting to catch hold, people were having beepers in like the early 90s They’re like, I mean I think there was a drug culture around beepers, there was also like– – Oh, hold on, hold on That’s an interesting– – I mean I wasn’t involved – I think there might have been a drug culture around beepers, meaning drug dealers all had beepers? Yes, that’s what you meant – I mean it was also just something I learned about in hip-hop, like there was A Tribe Called Quest song called the Skypager – Oh, Skypager – Yeah, and The Low End Theory and I was like oh, it’s gonna be cool to have a beeper, and then fast-forward many years later, I become an engineer and I was issued a beeper – A beeper I never had one – I had a beeper, dude – Made you feel powerful You feel like Batman or at least Robin – I had to read about how it worked Even though I carried it around for a couple years– – It beeped, man – I couldn’t remember I would have to travel between different facilities, like I’d get in my car and drive around and– – Did you have it on the outside of a belt? – It would be on, where you want, put it in my underwear? – Well some people put it in a pocket – I’m an engineer, man, I’m walking around with my shirt tucked in and I got a belt That’s back when I used to wear belts and I would hang it on the belt with pride – Well and you should have, I’m just saying, you don’t wear belts now

I never see you in a belt – So the beeper is like, if I was talking to my kids about this or if you never heard of it, it’s a device that then, it has a phone number associated with it and when you dial the phone number, then it makes this noise and then you can enter in other numbers with your phone and then those numbers that you enter in will show up on the beeper when it beeps and typically you would just put your phone number in the beeper and so then when you sent it, my beeper would beep and I would look at it and it would have a phone number on it and that’s the number that I would then call once I got to a phone – Right, but the person calling didn’t have to do anything except call the beeper – They had to put in their message because sometimes you would put in, you’d put in a phone number and then you’d put 911 and that wouldn’t mean there was an emergency, it would just mean call me back as soon as possible, this is urgent Or– – Didn’t people call them buzzers as well? – Uh, no – No one called ’em buzzers? – Never Not in– – Pager – Pager – Skypage – Skypager, beeper, and if you put like– – Buzzers Just call ’em a buzz – 143 143 just meant I love you – I love you – So other engineers would say they love me occasionally I guess – Yeah yeah yeah That’s sweet – And it made you feel important when you were in the middle of a conversation or you’re walking around a facility and all of a sudden you’re beeping, you’re like, and I would– – Just got paged – I would have to– – Just got buzzed – I remember I had this cool technique of like (mimics whip lash) I would pull it off of my belt and look at it ’cause– – I’m sure it was very cool – The numbers were so small you had to really hold it up to your eye and that was a way to tell everybody around you, I have been issues a beeper I can see you don’t have one – A functioning beeper – I have a functioning beeper so then I would just run, then you run to the nearest phone to answer a 911 – Yeah, doctors, speaking of 911, I mean doctors all had them, right? – They still do, actually Beepers are still in effect to use– – Somebody’s got to – The terminology Because they operate on, they don’t operate on cell service, they operate on a much more reliable service – Really? – Yes And that’s why– – What are they operating on? – Firemen, doctors– – What are they operating on? – Medical personnel– – Different frequencies? – Yeah it’s a different– – The beeper frequency – I think it’s like a radio wave I think – Well I think they’re all radio waves to some degree just different frequencies, I don’t know – Maybe so – I never had one but now you made me feel like I should get one of those too I should get one of those and beep myself in a payphone – Well I mean, and you’re the most reliably reachable and then you could have a two-way pager when you could page something, you could page a number back I did not have one of those I was not a second-level manager at IBM as they call it I was just a first-level – A peon – So you never even experienced that You never had a beeper – No, I never had a beeper – Ha! – I never had a reason to have a beeper – Ha! – Nobody wanted to beep me – What a loser, I mean what a just unimportant person you must have been – Yeah I was I was siloed – I was very important I had to be reached – Do you remember– – For nothing – Dialing 411 – Information – Now 411, people use it as slang, well at least in the 90s I think they still do, what’s the 411 on that, give me the download, give me the info And of course this is based on the fact that you could dial 411, and you still can dial 411 but this was a reliable service before the internet to– – Yes Well to get a phone number – Usually just to get a phone number of a place – Yeah, then you could call them and get the more, whatever, talk to ’em – You could also get an address of a place – Oh really? – Yeah you could get information, I think I never used it Literally never used it and I don’t know, I don’t know why ’cause it’s a real person, it’s not a machine, it’s a real person – It still exists? – It still exists and we’re going to call it – Ha, okay, all right So are you gonna ask for a number? – Well, let’s find out, bro – Whatever that means What? Let’s do it in English What? – Des Moines, Iowa Resibolsh

– What are you doing? – [Automated Voice] That’s county of Poke, right? – No I would like to speak to a human – You wanna speak to a human? Yes! – Yeah! – We’re about to get a 411 operator – Yeah, just real quick, I’m actually, I don’t need a listing in Des Moines, but I just wanted, if you have a quick second to just talk about 411 as a service – What? (line trilling) – Supervisor I’m sorry, yeah, I said Des Moines, Iowa, but really what I meant was, I’m currently talking to a friend about 411 service and the fact that it still exists and we wanted to call and just, how popular is this service still? Oh wow, so– – What kinda information can you get? – So how long have you been, how long have you been doing it? 20 years, so how much smaller is the department than it was 20 years ago? – Can we get– – Wow, okay, and we were just talking, we used to call to get phone numbers but you can get phone numbers, addresses, what all can you still get? – Yelp reviews? – No, can’t do Yelp reviews – What movies have you seen lately? – Okay Well how about Bob Jenkins in Des Moines, Iowa? (line beeps) – Bob Jenkins If you remember– – I tried – Bob Jenkins, just call back So basically you can’t conduct a relationship with 411 They just can’t chat – You screwed that up for me, man I was having, that’s why I was telling you be quiet I was having a great conversation with that woman She completely opened up, she was like I’ve been doing it for 20 years, it’s a lot smaller, and like, “What movies have you seen lately?” and then she got pissed, man, and she wanted to go – She said you couldn’t chat – She could have chatted with me That woman would have talked to me for 17 to 20 minutes And it would have been amazing We didn’t even get her name – 20 years of just giving people exactly what they need That’s probably satisfying and draining – She sounds satisfied (both chuckle) So I never called it, did you call it? – I don’t recall ever calling 411 but I’m sure, I mean my mom wanted to see if the Golden Corral was open early or something – I just used the phone book – That’s so much work, you gotta like think about where things fall in the alphabet Phone book, that’s another thing we don’t use anymore I mean they’ll still stack up a phone book in front of my house and I’ll put it directly in the recycle bin I feel guilty about it – Yeah yeah yeah – Boy that was thrilling I wrote down– – That was what? – Thrilling – Oh I didn’t know what you said. (chuckles) – What about dialing star 69? – Oh, now I’ve done that – Star 69 Now if you beeped star 69, that means something else – It sounds dirty – But if you dial star 69, it would give you the last number that called you – Yeah, it was what killed prank calling – Yes – But if you were prank calling, you could dial, what could you dial to make your number unlisted before you dial it? Star what? – Star 68 or something, there was like, star 96? You could block your call, before you dialed, you could do that in order to block people’s ability to see– – I don’t know what it was – On caller ID – Yeah you could dial something We did it all the time It was the counter to star 69 – Star 69 was, it was like if the phone was ringing and you couldn’t get to it – Yeah You were kind of, yeah, you wanted to know who called you – And you didn’t have an answering machine or they didn’t leave an answer I guess it would just drive people nuts so they would pay extra – Who was that that called? – Who was that that called? – What? Star 67 was how you blocked your number – Blocked being star 69ed – I would assume that this still all works on landlines Like I said, I’ve got one, I’m gonna test it – I don’t remember using that one that much

If I didn’t answer the phone, again, you would just like, who was that, I don’t know, they’ll call back later – We also weren’t adults– – Right – When this was the way things were I think I did, I probably did it a couple of times thinking that maybe I’d gotten a phone call from a girl or something, you know – I remember– – But– – Another thing on my list that I did do was I would, all the phones in your house were connected, so it wasn’t like every person had their own phone line I mean gosh – Party line, man Or at least within the house – Yeah within the house and so if my step-sister at the time was talking to her boyfriend, I could pick up my Garfield phone gingerly – His eyes would open – And then I would just like listen I would cover up– – Hold on – The top hole – You eavesdropped – Just listen to this, see what I could learn – What did you learn? – I don’t know, nothing, I don’t know, I know a lot now So probably some of it came from them You know, it’s like– – You were that little brother, that little step-brother, not even half-brother – Yeah – That little step-brother – I wasn’t addicted to it I didn’t do it constantly but I would do it sometimes – Man, violating of privacy I never listened to my brother’s phone calls I was afraid to do that – But the parents could listen to them too Just get a little, I mean, but you would hear that breathing They’d be like, “Get off the phone, Link!” I would get that I’m saying she would hear my breathing – You gotta be better than to let the breaths be heard – Well a man gotta breathe – You pull away from the microphone to breathe – So, or you would just be on, and my mom still has a landline and I’ll call and Lewis will answer, I’m talking to him and then he’ll talk to me for awhile and then all of a sudden he’ll just be like, “Sue!” And then Mom will get on the phone in the bedroom, then they’re both on the phone That’s very– – It’s so easy Two people at a speakerphone is– – That’s something that is lost, that was nice – And it cannot be replicated – Yeah, without the landline – Two people– – I don’t have a landline – On a close microphone speaking into your ear, it’s like a conference call – Yeah it’s like I have conference calls with family members all the time, you know? – Mm-hmm – Mom and Lewis in different rooms just talking away – Hmm Well– – I would talk to my mom for a long time and then I realized Lewis would all of a sudden after talking to her for like 20 minutes, all of a sudden then Lewis will be like, “Well, I’m gonna go “I’m gonna let the two of y’all talk.” It’s like oh, he’s been on here this whole time (Rhett laughs) I forgot, I kinda forgot he was still on here Good, good, good – He could take 20 minutes of it I still do have a landline We got it, well, when you get like the– – They try to make you get it – You get the service and stuff, you can get it, and my wife was like, yeah let’s get it, because, you know, we’ve got kids If they need to get in touch with us ‘Cause at the time, when we bought the current house, neither of the kids had a cell phone – Right But if they’re there and they need to call 911 or something – And Shepherd doesn’t have a cell phone and sometimes, for short stints, he’s on his own Like when we go out on the prairie to bring back a deer – Okay – He’ll spend a few fortnights alone (chuckles) No, but a few minutes alone sometimes, and it’s like Shepherd, if anything happens, so I remember, I was like, I had to show them how to use the phone and apparently it’s not as simple as I remember, at least, they did not understand, no, you pick it up, it’s making a noise That’s called a dial tone Then you have to press the buttons, like just the fact that they’re pressing buttons that are not on a touch screen– – It’s weird – They couldn’t press them all the way in to know that they had registered the number and it’s just like all these little things are like, actually you didn’t hit that, you didn’t hit it, you know why you didn’t hit it? ‘Cause you didn’t hear it When you hit the number, you’ll hear a (mimics beep), the associated tone with that particular number – Yeah dial– – Eventually they got it – You’re right, the dial tones don’t exist Give me another one off your list – Remembering phone numbers – (chuckles) Right Yeah, there was a time in our lives when there was like drawers in my brain that were dedicated to people’s phone numbers – I thought we could have a fun little exercise Now obviously Kiko we’re going to have to edit these But I want to throw out someone’s phone number

from the past, now let’s start with– – Well I think it– – Let’s start with, I’m gonna start with your phone number when you lived in that part, before you moved to Gregory Circle – My first house, yeah My first house (tones beeping) Yeah, that’s it (laughs excitedly) – That’s crazy! Hold on, ’cause how old were you when you– – I mean first of all– – How old were you when you moved to Gregory Circle? What grade? – I think I was 12 – Right so we’re talking about, I just recall your phone number from first, second, third, fourth, fifth grade – 28– – The first five years of our friendship – Yeah And then I moved and do you remember my phone number once I moved, this is more recent This one should be a little easier (tones beeping) That’s it (laughs excitedly) – What? – You were in one house – That’s crazy! – So I know, yours is easy. (tones beeping) – Yes – So that’s easy But do you remember our phone number in college? Maybe it was our dorm room number – Not a clue Not a clue Like that is– – It was the NC State numbers were– (tones beep) – Mm-hmm – You remember the next part? – No (tones beep) Oh, okay – Isn’t that it? – Okay interestingly, I’ve had (tones beeping), I think I’ve actually used that for things – Oh like your password? – No – Like your bank pin? – No when you’re trying to find, when you’re trying to, I don’t have anything that has that now, but like a Google number or something like that – I mean I don’t know your phone number now Like I knew your North Carolina phone number – I don’t know my phone number now Maybe I do – When you got a new phone number, I don’t know it And that’s gone – Right so– – Like I know my wife’s number, I know my number, I mean we’ve had ’em a long time I don’t know my kids’ phone numbers That’s actually a bit scary, right? – Well so I wanna talk about that, specifically related So obviously there were very good reasons to know these phone numbers, but, and I still know your phone number because it’s the phone number that you got the same year that I got my original phone number, the North Carolina phone number I’ve changed my phone number. (chuckles) But you should know your family members’, all your immediate family and then you should also know emergency contact like next of kin You should have those memorized – This is kind of a wake-up call Or we should just re, we should use 411 My kids need to get in touch with me, 411 it – Yeah but you might not be in 411 In fact– – I should not be – If we’ve done things the right way, you’re not in 411 – That’s true, we should test that – But okay ’cause I have this fear, going back to speaking of payphones, it’s like, okay, run out of gas with a dead phone Like that’s a bit of a, running out of gas with a phone that’s not currently working – Vultures circling – And I’m talking about, I’m not talking about being out in the wilderness, I’m talking about just being in Anaheim, you know what I’m saying, at that point, you’re like, okay now I’m gonna be the guy that goes up to people and says, “Can I use your phone?” And now, I’m not a gracious person when strangers come up to me in need, I always just assume that they’re scammers – And it kinda feels like can I use your tooth brush – Right – Pretty intimate – ‘Cause you know, ’cause you’ve got those people who come up to you at the gas station– – Like I use this thing on the crapper, man – You got those people that come up to you at the gas station and they’ve got a story and then they go up to every person You know that this is a scam, like 99% of the time, it’s a scam – You’re gonna hand ’em your phone, they’re just gonna run? – No they’re not asking for the phone, they’re asking for like a couple of bucks or something like that And just as a policy, I don’t do, I give to a lot of things, but I don’t give to those people because I think that, I can’t verify– – Shady – It just seems shady right But I don’t wanna be that guy that has to go and ask a stranger for the phone Now I guess I would go to the payphone – And even if you did, you wouldn’t know what number to call – Right, yeah, so double whammy if you get in that situation and you don’t know the number, so I guess we do now know that 411 is still available but I don’t think that a lot of people that we would want to call are on 411 – Mm-mm – So I know my wife’s phone number, got that memorized It’s the same one that she had when I got her her first cell phone when she was 20 years old So I think I’m okay but I don’t know, I don’t know my parents’ phone number– – My kids know my number They know my number – I think my kids know my new number They definitely know Jessie’s number – But how would you know if they knew it ’cause you don’t know it

You’d have to pull it up on your phone I guess – But beyond those numbers that you need for emergency situations, it does not, other than just for your own personal memory exercise and trying to stave off degenerative disease or something like that, there’s really no reason to keep your numbers in your head because you can easily just offload it to your phone and if you are seriously one of those people that you do not have, I guess there are still people out there who have a smartphone but do not have their contacts backed up in a cloud situation, with some service You need to do that There’s no reason that your phone should be the only place that you have these phone numbers Make an adjustment – All right I got another one – You’ll thank me later – On my list of, speaking of dialing things for information We would dial a number and it was the local bank – First Federal Bank – To get the exact time And temperature – Hold on, I’m assuming that you wrote this phone number down so we could call it – I wrote down, well, I looked it up and it doesn’t exist So I have another number that yes we could call – Hold on, I called the First Federal number literally and I think I can remember this number – ‘Cause here’s what happened– – What was the number, do you remember that number? – A lightning would strike A lightning would strike – Just one lightning – Power would go out and then you’re like, I gotta reset my phone so how do you do that? You call the bank, First Federal time – Seven– – 10:58 – Right First Federal temperature, 49 degrees – Yeah Yeah so you called it for time when you need to reset the time, you called it for temperature when you wanna know what the temperature was and you didn’t wanna sit around and wait for Greg Fishel to come on and tell you what the temperature was – Yeah and– – I called it all the time, when I was getting ready to go to school and I was like how cold is it outside? I would call First Federal so I could get the frickin’ temperature to know if I needed to put a jacket on – I watched the weather for that but– – You watched the weather when? – Every morning – Every morning? You watched the weather in the morning? – Oh yeah, I loved the weather man Literally I loved the weather man – [Rhett] Loved the weather man – [Link] I thought that was a great profession – So you’re telling me that you can’t call that number ’cause I swear within the last five years I’ve called that number when I was at home – Well there’s lots of places where you could call POPCORN, 767-2676 and get a pre-recorded voice telling you the time That does not work anymore but you can dial 202-762-1401, which I think is the Naval Observatory and it’ll give you the exact Eastern Standard Time So let’s call that one, let’s figure out what time it is And this will be Eastern Standard Time There’s a Mountain Standard Time number (line trilling) I assume there’s a Pacific – [Automated Voice] U.S. Naval Observatory master clock, at the tone, Eastern Standard Time 21 hours, 10 minutes, 15 seconds (beeps) – Wow – Universal time, two hours, 10 minutes, 20 seconds U.S. Naval Observatory master clock, at the tone, Eastern Standard Time 21 hours, 10 minutes, 30 seconds. (beeps) Universal time– – Beep – Two hours, 10 minutes, 35 seconds – He’s repeating himself now – I like that guy’s voice – Yeah I want that guy to be my Siri Is that possible? – No, it’s not So yeah I mean we used to dial a number to figure out what time it was – Now I should probably should have talked about this with remembering phone numbers but, Rolodex – Rolodex? – The Rolodex – You talking about an address book that is on a swivel – You didn’t have one of these at your house? (vibrates tongue) – No, I never had a Rolodex That’s something that an ad man in like Mad Man had on their desk You had a Rolodex? – We had a version of a Rolodex that, I needed to know like, what is my cousin’s number or something like that My mom would go and all the cards were organized and she would flip through ’em It was a Rolodex It was a– – You would roll around – It may not have been the brand name Rolodex which I’m gonna tell you about because it’s absolutely fascinating – Tell me about it – Okay so the Rolodex which just to explain, it was basically this ringed collection of cards that you could write numbers and names on and organize them by alphabetical order and put anything, any information you want This thing was invented by– – Roll E. Dex – Arnold Neustadter He was a 20th century inventor from Brooklyn

Now he also invented, before this, the Swivodex, which was a device that kept ink bottles from spilling I don’t know for what purpose – Well ’cause you don’t wanna spill your ink, man – He also invented the Clipodex – Oh wow – Sensing a theme here Arnold – What is that for? Paper clips? – It was a device that attached to the knees of stenographers To keep their pads from moving – Oh wow – Pads, the ones that were on their knees And he also made, he changed things up The Punched The Punched – Punched – Which was a hole-puncher, made holes in papers Now, then he came along– – Prolific inventor – With the Rolodex Now the funny thing is is there was an article in Gizmodo by Anna Jane Grossman who wrote that book Obsolete which I did not read but saw the cover of and thought I would like to read, which is like 98% of books with me And she talked about how, the daughter talked about how the dad was really anal and he tried to remember everything and whenever someone, she took a message from someone, he would be like, “I want you to get their name, “their callback number, their address, “the reason for calling,” he had this list that you had to do in the household if you took a message So this was right down his alley was to organize information in this way – By the way, that is a flashback for me is being taught how to take messages for people in the house Like for my mom and dad– – Name, number, and reason for calling – And you’d write it down So as a kid I remember that system – Did you have to say the residence or did you say hello? We didn’t have to do, “McLaughlin residence.” – I would say hello but I think the Jubees did like– – Oh the Jubee residence – Jubee residence – Anybody with class did residence – We didn’t do that – We didn’t have class (chuckles) So he invented this in the 50s Then, by the 80s, the Rolodex had become such an icon that lawsuits were filed by companies who accused former employees of taking them with them when they left It was like, he’s taking his Rolodex with him, is a euphemism but it’s based in a literal truth in that depending on what the business you were in, like a ad man like you were talking about, your Rolodex, your physical Rolodex was incredibly valuable – The contacts that you made You’re talking about backing up your contacts to the cloud – Yes – Yeah that thing became extremely valuable for business contacts – They didn’t have backup Rolodexes I don’t think, because, okay so models were selling for $200 at the time Even though people often valued them at prices far higher than that once they got filled up, listen to this – Sure – In fact, an entire episode of Moonlighting, remember Moonlighting with Bruce Willis, sitcom – Cybill Shepherd – Was devoted to one stolen Rolodex being held ransom for $50,000, an entire episode – It’s a fictional world but– – That was fictional but Rolodex– – Still stands – Up to $50,000 in a fictional world – You know it would be cool to, I bet you you can buy Rolodexes now off of eBay that are like fully populated and that would be fascinating – Yeah it would but you can also buy brand new ones because– – I’m not into that – In the interview that this woman, this author conducted with the daughter of Arnold– – Mm-hmm – She said, “I’m talking about this for my book Obsolete,” and the girl got a little upset and was like, “They’re not obsolete “People still buy them, still use them “They’re still sold.” She probably says that because she gets a little bit of that money even to this day – My Nana and Papa they didn’t have a Rolodex, they would get, the phone was beside the calendar and then the top of the calendar had an area where you would write down numbers so every year, they would kinda have to start over, like transfer over the most important numbers And then she’d scribble all over the top of the calendar and was like, by the end of the year, it would have numbers all over it – And then she would repeat the ones that she wanted to hold onto – I think so She must have, I mean– – It’s an interesting system Doesn’t seem very efficient but at the same time– – You know, ’cause they’re on the phone– – You can re-evaluate every single year – You’re on the phone and you’re just like, oh I’m gonna write down your number or write down the number I need to call and then you call it That’s where you need it anyway – What if Bob Jenkins in Des Moines, Iowa is listening to this podcast – He is, he is – He’s freakin’ out – Remember just answering machines? – Yeah – I remember, I mean, I don’t even use voicemail – It’s just a black hole for me, man – My mom called me this morning, she was like, “I was calling you and I was trying to leave a voicemail “and you called me back,” and I’m like, I almost said, “Don’t leave voicemails, just text me.” – Yeah – Voicemails, voice mailboxes are obsolete but I remember whenever we would come home from anything, as a kid, I would run into the living room and I would press play on our cassette tape run

answering machine and you’d hear the beep Beep, and then you’d hear the recording The analog recording that somebody left and then it would beep again letting them know, oh you’re almost out of time And sometimes they’d have to call back, leave a second voicemail to continue their thought – Right – And then, I don’t know, it was an exciting moment because every second that you’re out in the world, you’re not receiving calls, you know It’s this sensation of like a build-up of expectations, like, well, there was always something to look forward to Like I said, I would bust in the door and I couldn’t wait to hear who had left a message – On your mom’s answering machine? – Yeah, it was just exciting to me I bet– – I don’t remember– – Something happened while we were gone, somebody called – Well first of all, I definitely did not have an answering machine when I was living at home with my parents, they did not have one – They didn’t, your family didn’t own an answering machine? – Not for the longest time – I remember when we got it – Maybe at the very tail end of high school – I was very fascinated by it – I don’t think we had one And I think that – That’s weird – Well I don’t think it’s that weird I think there’s a lot of families that didn’t have an answering machine – It’s one of those things that once you had it– – Maybe I’m blocking it out but I’m pretty sure that we did not have one for a majority– – [Link] It felt like we couldn’t live without it – Of the time that I lived there, and then, did we have an answering machine in the college dorm room? ‘Cause I know I had one when I first got married – No, our college dorm room phone number had– – A voicemail – Had voicemail boxes Like you would pick up the phone and the dial tone would be different – Different – And then– – If it was beeping, if it was a broken dial tone, that meant that you had a message – You had a message and then you would put in your code and it would lead to either my voice box, well voicemail It’d lead to my voice box, I would be speaking – Yeah my code 1958. (chuckles) – But do you remember the commercial where they would sell greetings and it was called Crazy Calls – [Announcer] Crazy Calls, a tape of seven different songs and funny recordings for answering machines – No ♪ Nobody’s home ♪ ♪ Nobody’s home ♪ ♪ Nobody’s home, nobody’s home, nobody’s home ♪ And then there was– – Hold on You didn’t use this service – I just remember, I wanted it so bad – How would you get it onto your answering machine? – It was seven songs, I looked this up, it was called Crazy Calls and it was seven different tracks on a cassette tape that would fit in your answering machine and your answering machine would know how to, it would queue up the tape and then play it and then it would record, but sometimes it would have to fast forward– – This is one tape? One tape has the greeting and the messages? – No, it’s a separate tape There was a greeting tape and then a recording tape That’s how it worked And I remember there was a rap on there that was like ♪ Leave your message ♪ ♪ We’re not home but leave your message at the tone ♪ And then it would– – That’s a good one – It was one that was like, wait for the beep Wait for the beep It kept saying that It was like a rapper – And there’s also the classic, hello – That wasn’t one of the seven – Gotcha, I’m not home! – It’s too annoying – Whoever did that should be ashamed of yourself – I wanted those tapes so bad – But you’re right – That was the peak of technology for me was like– – Little tapes – Oh and the, oh, we got that one too First it was the bigger tapes and then you would get an answering machine that would have those little tapes that you’d put the hand recorder, it was like note to self – But then it went to, the one we had when we first got married was no tape – Yeah kinda digital or something – It was being recorded locally in there somehow And we had that for, we had a regular phone with an answering machine up until they started putting voicemail built into your phone service, which happened, it was widespread sometime in like the early 2000s That’s when you just started doing it that way – Did you have anything else on your list? – I did Phones with cables – The tether Yeah, the spiral cordage – The phone I have at home has a cable on it It’s not cordless, ’cause I remember– – Really – When my mom got a cordless phone and we were like, what? She can walk room to room while on the phone

and it was just like we are rich. (chuckles) – I remember the first time I got that, yeah I remember first time we got one of those, I probably called you But I remember walking out on the front lawn, I was like I’m in my lawn! – I’m outside talking on the phone – I’m so rich! – I’m blowing my own mind (chuckles) – My neighbors can see me! – Yeah because before that– – I’m talking on the phone outdoors! – Well and you had to think about where the phones were I mean everybody, most people had a phone in every room Like you had a phone in each bedroom so you could have those conversations with lady friends and you didn’t want your parents to hear, but even then, you had the phone and then you had, you stretch the cord if you wanted to sit in your chair or lay down on your bed and you got like, you know the cord, it’s tethered, man – Yeah – Maybe you could get the whole phone, like you could take all of Garfield and bring him into bed with you, but you gotta make sure that the cord from Garfield to the wall is long enough for that – Right, and I do remember back to like the in the house party line thing, what would actually happen the most, not me eavesdropping on my step-sister would be I would be on the phone with my girlfriend or something, and then my mom on the other side of the house would need to make a phone call and she would just pick up the phone and I’d be like, “Mom, I’m on the phone.” It was like, and then she was, “Oh I’m sorry.” And then she’d be like, “Well I need to use the phone, so.” – And cordless phones– – “You need to get off.” – And cordless phones– – “You can get back on “after I call.” – Were much easier to tell– – Time and date – When somebody had interrupted So if you had the classic phone, either rotary phone or just a non-corded phone, a non-cordless phone You get your finger and you’d stick it up under the receiver and hold down those two clear pegs that would come out that would indicate that this phone was open, the phone line’s open You’d hold it down and then you’d open it up You’d get the phone in position – Then you’d– – Turn it like this so you wouldn’t breathe into the phone and then you very, very, very quietly lift – So you did eavesdrop on your brother – No, I just knew how to do it I just know the technique – You had the power but you didn’t wield it – But with a cordless phone, it was very obvious, like (clicks tongue), you could hear (clicks tongue) somebody just (clicks tongue) came into the conversation – Yeah It’s like, “Mom, I’m on the phone! “Buh!” – And then every once in awhile, you can replicate the situation when you’re charging your phone and you get a phone call and you don’t wanna stop charging it And you’re like down there next to your bedside table with a– – Yeah, yeah Yeah, you can feel– – I’m doing it the old-fashioned way – You can feel what it was like to be tethered – Did you have anything else? – Mm-mm – But you do, I think, as our custom now, have a recommendation for all the Ear Biscuiteers – So thanks for taking a trip down memory lane Let us know #EarBiscuits, what phone-related nostalgia was brought to your mind Something you remember about the way phones used to be #EarBiscuits And now it’s time to get some recs in effect – I’m gonna work on that – I’m gonna check baby check baby, you know It’s Rump Shaker It’s a song – Yeah, right – Speaking of, my recommendation this week is a song I love it when I find a song, it’s like whoa, I’m, something about this song is special and I never even knew it existed – Hmm – I played this for Rhett earlier today – Yes – Would you agree that this is a song not to be missed – It’s very notable – It’s weird – I think it has special, I knew when you were playing it exactly why you were playing it for me I don’t necessarily know that that would translate to everyone – Right – But you were playing it for me because you were like, the person who sang this song at the time that they sang it and then the way that it sounds, all of those things are gonna be a little bit difficult for you to reconcile and it’s gonna be a little bit of a trip and you were right, my friend – Yeah and so, I don’t know where it’s gonna strike you And I will say that I’m not giving an endorsement of anybody’s, of this artist’s personal beliefs or what they may put on Twitter, now – No telling Does he have a Twitter account? – Yeah So don’t go there, just enjoy the song for what it is But the song is called Behind Your Eyes by The Charlie Daniels Band – Mm-hmm – You may know The Charlie Daniels Band from The Devil Went Down to Georgia He was looking for a soul to steal He was in a bind, he was way behind and he was willing to make a deal – Mm-hmm – Fiddle song – That’s what he’s known for most

– Even when we went to New Orleans and we went to that dueling piano bar– – Of course– – They started playing that song– – Right, got to – It’s a good song – Yeah – But this song Behind Your Eyes, (chuckles) is the song before that song on the album, and it is like night and day different in terms of like the genre It’s not this like, you may consider Devil Went Down to Georgia like a redneck fiddle song – Mm-hmm, I think that’s the official genre on iTunes Redneck fiddle – The sound and the production of that song was just very unexpected for Charlie Daniels Band – It’s got this late 70s rock kind of thing and then these, which is one of my favorite things – Harmonic – Yeah, harmonizing lead guitars Like two telecasters playing complementary solos – It’s not limited to but it is a big southern rock thing when he was in that zone – There’s just something about it – I think this is 1979 – It’s a good year – So yeah, just think of me when you listen to that song and it may surprise you – Here’s to being surprised– – That’s my recommendation – You know what, you gotta keep surprising yourself Don’t ever stop surprising yourself Go outside on your phone, talk in the yard, untethered – If you don’t know your own phone number, memorize that – Yeah, mm-hmm – Starting with you, Rhett – Yeah I’m gonna do that – All right, we’ll speak at you next week Thanks for hanging out with us To watch more Ear Biscuits, click on the playlist on the right – [Rhett] To watch the previous episode of Ear Biscuits, click on the playlist to the left – [Link] And don’t forget to click on the circular icon to subscribe – [Rhett] If you prefer to listen to this podcast, it’s available on all your favorite podcast platforms Thanks for being your Mythical best (electronic music)