You Get One Phone Call
Memories Light the Corners of My Mind.
A friend of a friend was sleeping off his drunk beside a rural road.
The cops found him and threw him in jail.
He would have been released after a few hours if only he’d memorized one damn phone number.
He was there for two days, and nobody knew where he was.
The moral of the story: memorize a phone number. (Oh, and don't drink and drive.)
I know it makes me sound old, but I remember when people knew a lot of phone numbers. It was a little more manageable back then. No area codes for local calls, and you could often guess the first three numbers based on what part of town you were calling.
If you didn't know a number, you’d call 411 directory assistance, and a woman (yes, it was most often a woman) would look it up.
I know someone who worked for Barbra Streisand as a personal assistant about 30 years ago. One of her duties was to update phone numbers in numerous phone books around Bab’s Hollywood home. That’s what CRM management was back then. When Bill Clinton, Michael Jackson, or Madonna got a new number, it went into the books ASAP. Directory assistance doesn't give those numbers out.
I saw someone pass a business card the other day, and I felt like I was on the set of a period film.
Someday people might gather on weekends for business meeting reenactments where they dress up in suits and ties, shake hands, and exchange business cards across loud-pattered carpeting in abandoned hotel meeting rooms. They’ll make calls from pay phones and drive away in replicas of yellow taxi cabs. Reading newspapers.
Taking phone numbers off of our cognitive load is mostly a good thing. It frees space in our minds for big ideas and creativity. Like PIN numbers and passwords.
With the rise of social media, streaming, and endless internet content I hear a lot of discussion on the hijacking of our attention. But I don’t hear much about the influence technology has on how we mold and shape our memory.
Your creativity depends on what you pay attention to and what you remember.
And sometimes your freedom depends on it too.