Have you noticed how your cell phone number or home phone number doesn’t have the same emotional ties to it as it did in the
80s and 90s?
Maybe I’ve watched one too many Seinfeld episodes (I kid…it’s one of the best shows ever), but there’s an episode where Elaine encounters problems with her phone number. When Kramer used her number for a fax subscription service, and the faxes wouldn’t stop coming, she had to change her number. But when she put the order in, the area code 212 had run out of numeric combinations. She now had the area code 646.
PHONE MAN: All right, miss Benes, all finished. Here’s your new number.
ELAINE: Ahem. 646? What is this?
PHONE MAN: That’s your new area code.
ELAINE: I thought 646 was just for new numbers.
PHONE MAN: This is a new number.
ELAINE: No, no, no, no. It’s not a new number. It’s—it’s—it’s just a changed number. See? It’s not different. It’s the same, just…changed.
PHONE MAN: Look, I work for the phone company. I’ve had a lot of experience with semantics, so don’t try to lure me into some maze of circular logic.
ELAINE: You know, I could’ve killed you, and no one would’ve known.
PHONE MAN: I could’ve killed you, and no one would’ve known.
Elaine gets judged on this new area code because no one had heard of it. Maybe I am alone in this but I remember my childhood home phone number and loving it dearly. It was a 718-937-XXXX number. When we changed phone numbers (albeit still a 718 area code) as a teenager, a part of my identity was lost. Now I had to recall a different number.
In those days people didn’t change their phone number every other day. You had to memorize numbers. There was no speed dial. And if you had a phone with buttons instead of a rotary phone you were ahead of the game. Nowadays people change their phone numbers as often as they change their clothes.
Don’t like one provider? Change your number. On a month-to-month plan, forget to pay your bill and they cut off your service? Get a new number.
My husband still has the same cell phone number as when I met him. My first cell phone number in Baltimore had the 410 area code. When the newer 443 area code popped up, I refused to become a 443. Nope. I was a 410. Now I live in Georgia and changed my cell phone number (such a stupid decision). Another little chunk of me is gone.
Were you ever emotionally attached to a phone number?