Friday, July 29, 2011

The 70s - When Laziness Really Got Going

Our house was built in 1979. Apparently in those days, a "must-have" feature in a house in this neighborhood was an intercom system. This is the last one, out on the patio, that I have yet to remove. All four bedrooms had one that I've pulled from the wall, leaving giant boxy holes. They're not repaired yet, just covered with framed pictures, and I suppose they could make great wall safes someday. The "master unit" of this system was in the kitchen, where you could make all the rooms listen to a radio station if you chose. All the units could speak to each other and answer a caller at the door. Now mind you, the house is not that large, which makes the need to talk to someone in the next room via an intercom seem a little ridiculous.

"Dinner's ready!" the mother of this house in 1979 would intone quietly from the kitchen intercom to her children in the far, far reaches of the 2,200 square foot space, then she'd let the Top 40 station continue playing into their rooms. Dad out at the pool on Saturday would hear the doorbell chime. Then he'd grab a towel and instead of just peeking in the patio door through the living room and into the foyer to see the caller at the door, he'd push the "talk" button on the intercom and say, "Yes? Hello?" After no response, Dad would say into the intercom, "You have to push the talk button to talk, then release it to listen." Then they'd talk over each other a little and finally Dad, frustrated, would go answer the door. It was probably the Jehovah's Witnesses. And late at night when the parents were asleep, younger brother could call his older brother in the next room and whisper, "I know you have marijuana. I'm gonna tell if you don't give me some."

I was looking at this stupid contraption on the patio with detached bemusement, disdaining anyone who ever used it, wondering what sort of idiots ever put it to use more than once, just to see the novelty of it. Then I remembered that I've been guilty of calling my own children to the table by texting "dinner" to their phones. And now I'm thinking I might not remove this one. It's sort of a museum piece to me at this point, a relic from another era, a reminder that as we grow more advanced, finding new ways to make life easier, we sacrifice a little something, usually some human interaction, with each forward step.

Crossposted to Radio Free Babylon.

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  • WE had one as well, but being a split level it actually came in handy to not have to run up and down the stairs. Ours didn't have the front-door option, tho. Glad to see you are back!

    By Blogger Robert, at July 29, 2011 at 1:05 PM  

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