How To Use An Old-Style Rotary Telephone


I mean this as a service for those of younger generations. I don’t mean to tell you how to dial a phone number because that’s not a challenge. The Phone Company, back in the day, worked really hard to make sure people could work out how to use a dial quickly. I mean, there’s a dial with numbers on it, and it’s easy to turn the dial one way and hard to turn it the other. There’s only like two things to try and one of them is “run away from the phone”. Also, every single surviving Boomer has already done a video challenging every single existing Millennial or Gen-Z person challenging them to dial a phone number. So the younger folks have seen how the dialing works and are annoyed their elders keep trying to explain this. What I want to communicate is the hard part. That’s the rules about how to use this dialing power. So here they are, the rules for how you dialed, pre-cell-phone:

  1. Never ever call someone before 8 pm because that’s when the calls got cheaper.
  2. Never ever call someone after 9 pm because calling that late can only mean there’s terrible news.
  3. If you need to phone someone who’s in a different time zone, I’m sorry, we never worked out how to do that without breaking one or both of the other rules. You have to send them a postcard or something.

That’s all the important stuff, though. Oh, oh wait. One more.

  1. If you get the answering machine, they might have some funny message to prompt you, like maybe they say “Hello” and pause and then say, “Gotcha, you’re talking to a machine” or maybe they even bought some music bit, like, a band playing Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony with someone singing “Nobody’s Home” with the melody. In this case you can leave a message but you have to start out by saying how you just hate talking to a machine. I don’t know why, that’s just the rules.

All right, so, that should have you set. Good phoning, next time you’re in like 1988 for some reason.

Author: Joseph Nebus

I was born 198 years to the day after Johnny Appleseed. The differences between us do not end there. He/him.

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