Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Phone Books

The end of summer announces itself in a variety of ways here in Tucson.  Cars are driven with the windows lowered instead of with the air conditioning on high.  The gambel quail babies are now big enough to be seen foraging on their own, without their parents fore and aft, monitoring their brood.  School buses are everywhere, starting at 6:45 in the morning and stopping traffic until 5 or so in the evening.  Electioneering posters are crowded on every street corner, exhorting passersby to STOP something or RE-ELECT someone.  And phone books are delivered.  Lots and lots of phone books.

We got 5 of them at our house.  Tucson Pages and DEX and Yellow Book (but not the Yellow Pages) and two others whose titles I've forgotten.  They are dropped off underneath the mail box or in the middle of the driveway or propped against my little courtyard's even littler front gate, wrapped in their plastic bags to protect them from the elements.  There's been one up against the back gate of the 25 acre property across the street for the last two years.  The residents don't seem to use this entrance and so it sits there, 10 inches or so of decaying pages.  I often wonder why I don't just recycle it myself.  I have no answer to the question. 

They make their way into the house, though I don't know why.  One year I did deposit them straight into the recycling bin and no one seemed to notice the difference.  Last year I put them on the shelf in the closet in the library and was annoyed every time I needed the folders underneath them.  Why didn't I move the box of folders?  Again, I have no answer.

This year I recycled the old ones the same day I brought in the first of the new ones.  I set the intruder down on a ledge, and then the next one on top and the next few and there they sat, in a forlorn pile, for a week or so while TBG and I walked past them and looked at them and wondered why we did nothing about them. Then I thought I might use a picture of them for The Burrow, so we agreed that they would sit there until the next recycling day.  The day came and went before I got around to photographing them; they were irrelevant and eminently ignorable and they blended into the general level of piles around the house. TBG chose one of them and tossed the rest. 

And the next day I answered a telephone survey about phone books.  I'm telling you, they were everywhere.   The girl on the other end of the line wanted to know where I went when I needed to find a business - the internet or which of the 5 phone books I'd received?  Internet.  If I were to use a book, which one would I choose?  That was a tough one, since I had paid no attention to anything but how pretty it was.  I told her that and she knew just what I was talking about.  It made me feel better about myself, knowing I wasn't the first person who was so unobservant.  Then she asked what I've turned into an Escher drawing of a question: Did I have a phone book on my smart phone?   

I don't have a smart phone, so she thanked me and hung up, leaving me to ponder the notion of the phone possessing a phone book, a window into its soul, the inside brought out, the instruction manual as an integral part of the device itself.......

I'm telling you, this phone book stuff is a real presence this time of year.

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