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The Advancement of Eavesdropping


Modern technology continues to amaze me and I am sure that anyone who considers themselves a baby boomer or older remembers the days before microwaves, televisions, fax machines and computers. Technology continues to advance. It became obvious Sunday afternoon sitting at the Phoenix airport waiting for my plane that we are living the day of the cell phone.

I swear that half of the people waiting in lines at the airports have their ears glued to the cell phone and while I was sitting there trying to read a book I realized I was hearing way more information than I needed to or wanted to.

I sat the book down and thought back to my earliest memory of the telephone. The memory is very faint because I was 5 and we lived on a ranch about 60 miles from the nearest town. We were on a party line that connected about a dozen families and I got in trouble because as soon as my mother would go outside to do chores and feed the cattle I would get on the phone and talk to the neighbors. If I remember correctly it wasn't an occasional visit that bothered the neighbors, it was my long conversations and the fact that I was tying up the line for hours.

We moved to another community when I was 6 and it was there that I remember starting school and having the telephone. Our extension, if you will, was two long rings and two short rings and everybody on the line knew everybody else's rings. The word "eavesdropping" became a pastime for some, but never when my mother was in the house. She would never listen to the other neighbor's conversations but my brother got me started. A couple of the girls he liked were on our line and as soon as their lines would ring he would be listening to the girls' plans and who their latest boyfriends were. I grew up with the party line and it wasn't until I was 16 until we got our own private line and telephone number.

We survived the days of the early phones, later the message machine, cordless telephone and now we are in the middle of a cell phone revolution.

Sitting there in the airport Sunday, this time not because I had any desire to "eavesdrop" on a young teenager's conversation, but because they were talking so loud and there were so many of them I heard way more than I wanted to. One young lady was talking to her boyfriend and filling him in on her plans for the next several months. To the left of me another girl was telling her sister how to raise the children and just across the aisle a college age girl was doing homework with someone else on the other end helping her out. It all reminded me of being on the party line back in grade school where someone else's conversation seemed terribly important to me.

Technology might be advancing and things moving along faster than we can keep up with them but bottom line some young people are still talking about dating and boys and homework and plans and the rest of us are still listening, one way or another.

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