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Letter From Home “Why God Made Doorbells” 9/13/19

September 13, 2019

Over the past months, I have been confronted with what seems a new reality.  One that says a great deal about our society.  It probably also says something about how we live here at this home, and how we are not prone to bending.

James and I have had countless people in our home since the start of the year. While purchasing the upper two floors of our Victorian has been exciting it also has presented a slice of life that I am a bit surprised about.  We have had our upstairs portion of the home appraised, along with estimates for electricity, plumbing, carpeting, and insulating gathered.  We have had workers in each profession show up, time and again.  After all that I am now aware of what is the most outdated convenience in the nation.

The doorbell.

And how its demise plays havoc with those of us who live apart from having a phone in hand 24/7.  This morning at 7:27 a perfect example of what I am writing about took place.

At this home, we do not have cell phones, other than a flip-phone for long car trips.  The ringer on our land-line phone is almost always turned off.  We have four phones set up in the house so when a call comes in it lights up the front of the receiver, and we say hello.  To say I have a disdain for the constant ringing of phones would be an understatement.  At the radio station where I worked, we had lines for upper Door County, Kewaunee County, and a line that seemed dedicated to the owner of the station.  God forbid it to ring in the studio and need to be answered by the on-air announcer.  (Time to play There’s Trouble In Paradise.)

At every job, it seems there were more phone lines than reasonable.  Lord knows if there is a line installed it will ring.

So this morning I am at my computer reading some emails when the phone at my desk lights up.  With what passes for being cheerful without my first cup of coffee I greet the caller and am told that the workers have arrived and “we are waiting at your front door”.

Had I not been at my desk, or if James had made a fast dash to the basement, or had I taken something upstairs–all which would have taken us away from the living area of our home and away from the phones–we would not have known there was anyone wishing to make entrance to our home.

Back in 1831 the first crude doorbell was created, and it still seems like a mighty fine idea to me.  The younger generation never has a shy finger for texting but is highly reticent to press a button on the front of a house.  I am at a loss to explain why.

I have had workers this summer call me from just blocks away to let me know they were coming.  I gently reminded them of my knowledge about how a calendar works and if they are to show up on a certain day and time that is when I will expect them.  As I told one young nice man who kept alerting me to his almost block by block trip to our home, “When I see your eyes I will know you arrived”.

In other words, put the phone down!

I have thought back to my parents’ building of our garage when I was a boy.  How they ever had the lumber delivered, cement poured, and shingles delivered and put on without constant phone messages and updates from drivers and workers clearly would baffle anyone now under age 30.  I sincerely think that if most workers today needed to resort to actual calendars, and adhere to the promised time of arrival and work to be done, based on the way cities were once built, the whole nation would stop working within a day.  The main purpose of a cell phone, I have found on multiple occasions, is to alter the agreed-upon time of arrival of those workers paid to do a job.

This brings me to the closing of this letter with something–on a related note–which made for a smile.

Last night I gave a soft hand clap when Joe Biden mentioned a record player in the candidate debate. While I am savvy with a computer, planning to podcast later this year, put videos up on YouTube, and load my iPad with amazing applications my life still leans backward.  I read actual books, love printed newspapers, listen to AM radio, and yes, use my record player.

And for all the young folks who seem to have a disdain for the doorbell the use of vinyl is making powerful inroads again.  Sales are climbing year by year as current artists are releasing their songs on what so many of us grew up with decades ago.

Might there also be a rebirth of the doorbell?  We can only hope so.

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