Phone Books are for Tourists

It is a sad thing that we seldom use our phone books any more. At least, not for their intended purpose. With the Internet as a quick source for local information (like business addresses and phone numbers) the phone book has become a large recyclable object. Sometimes an effective doorstop, child booster seat or an especially thick phone book can be added to the wood burning in the fireplace (if you have one).

It’s ironic that once the Internet was booming the phone books started dropping out of the sky. We were getting five different phone books each year at one point. The main one still being from the phone company itself. Then four others from various other sources, all companies who sold their service to local business and then promised great results. Well, who needs that many phone books in one place (one small house in my case). I did recycle all of them – without ever having used them at all.

This brings me to this past week when I was travelling to Sudbury, Ontario with my nephew and his Grandmother (my Mom). We were there for him to tour his university. Zack will be living on site and taking psychology this Fall. Anyway, I’ve been to Sudbury before. There were a couple of places I wanted to see again, like MIC (a Canadian themed restaurant). We stayed three days so I wanted to find more to do and see. Thus the phone book. I looked up all the standard things I look for (secondhand bookstores and coffee shops). Zack looked at the games stores and my Mom looked at garden centres. We each found a few places to explore. So the phone book was put to it’s intended use.

I think it is only in such a case that the phone book is still useful. Yes, we could have found the same information online and we each did have the hardware to do it. I just dislike pulling out the computer when I’m travelling. I like being less digitally inclined and having a small digital sabbatical.

Did you know that businesses can opt out of the Yellow Pages phone directory now? I wonder why they would do that. I can understand not placing a large ad but to at least have the small text ad, to at least be mentioned, still seems like a worthwhile idea. Not everyone is as plugged into the Internet that they rely on it fully and completely. If you have a business which helps people in times of crisis (like a personal trauma or the power going out), you really should have a yellow pages listing.

So goes the legendary phone book. When did you last use it in some way? Whether you found a creative use for it, actually looked up a business or just added it to the recycling – I hope you did not do it without a little thought for the old phone book.

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