How Not to Phone Old

For starters, don’t yell into your cell.

By Pamela Redmond Satran • Guest Writer
Photograph: Photo by iStock.

Don’t yell into your cell phone. Old people talk into their cell phones as if the phone was a tin can attached to a string, and the string was so long that the person with his ear pressed to the other tin can was in China.


Although cell phones are extremely tiny and not connected to any wires, they’re really more efficient than that. You can speak in a normal voice—no, in a softer-than-normal voice—and the other person will hear you. We promise.

Sssssh. That’s better.

8 Ways Not to Phone Old

1. Don’t be unable to find your cell phone because you put it away in a different place every time.

2. Don’t hold your phone at arm’s length—so you can read the numbers—and then dial very, very slowly, with your index finger.

3. Don’t be afraid of your phone: learn to program the speed dial, use the voice-activated and speed dialing, regulate the volume, even—wow!—use that tiny button on the side to flick off the ringer thing.

4. Don’t be clueless about the other things besides making phone calls that your phone can do: texting, alarms and . . . gee, that’s as far as I’ve gotten.

5. If you’ve figured out texting, adopt a few of the basic shortcuts: idk (“I don’t know”), yt (“you there?”), cu (“see you”), ttyl (“talk to you later”).

6. Don’t hurry off the phone because you’re afraid of running up your bill. You have 800 hundred minutes a month, and you’ve used only 63.

7. Do not set your ringtone to the Sex and the City theme or the old phone tone (brrring brrring).

8. Try not to suffer from cell-phone deafness, aka the inability to hear your cell phone ring or catch what the other person is saying unless you’re in the equivalent of a soundproof booth.

From How Not to Act Old: 185 Ways to Pass for Phat, Sick, Hot, Dope, Awesome, or at Least Not Totally Lame by Pamela Redmond Satran. Copyright 2009 by Pamela Redmond Satran. Published by Harper Paperbacks, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

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First Published December 29, 2010

Share Your Thoughts!


Amy Pagnozzi03.21.2012

Dearie me. I am so into brring brrings (tip #5) that pre-loaded brring-tones didn't have enough r's for me so I created my own from the brrrrrrg of an old Western Electric 302b -- the exact model used by Lucille Ball on 'I Love Lucy.'
Worse, I printed out a cardboard circle bearing Lucy's number -- Murray Hill 5-9099 -- to slip beneath the celluloid cover in the center of the dial. (except mine's not celluloid; too hard to find [htf?], so I cut a piece of plastic from a frisee box).
Currently, I'm looking for a 'gossip bench' to set the phone on -- those little tables that have a shelf beneath for your White and Yellow pages, and a seat to one side so you can relax while you talking ... but who wouldn't want one of those?
Am I so hopeless? It's not as if I actually 'love Lucy' -- her character's too retrograde a female stereotype, even for a nostalgia slut like me -- I just love her phone. And I do text, even if I tend to go on a bit so they end up serialized and I use my index finger to do it.
Btw (ha! A shortcut!) -- how does one use a different finger at this age? Mine are too fat. Middle-finger spread.

Karin 03.27.2011

Blonderichmond: for only 50 that sounds OLD. I am almost 70 and really embrace technology. I no longer have a land line Who needs it? I guess lecturing you would be a really old thing for me to do. But really, girlfriend. Answering machine? Really. Who does that? Peaceful life? Good for you. Guess that's just not me.
I love this book and try to embrace the advice. I just can't get the hang of texting with my thumbs. Mr daughter tells me using index fingers is so dorky. I guess I'll ditch the Sex and the City ringtone.

I am 50 years old, I received a cell phone in 1995 from my family for Christmas. I never used it. To this day, I choose not to own one. I have always worked, and the lack of a cell phone has never hindered me, in fact, I have a peaceful life. Nothing that I do is so important, (and I think that the majority of us are in the same boat)that the need for me to be available 24/7 is necessary. I have an answering machine, so leave a message, otherwise, I feel sorry for you people that believe that every thought should be conveyed via phone, text, e-mail, twitter, whatever.You talk about crazy crap, just eliminate it. Simplify, get back to basics. Anyway, that is my thought.

Barbara Torris02.08.2011

And for goodness sakes know your number even if you have automatic dial...our memory does not go that fast! Please carry a cell phone even if you don't actually use it...just say the battery is dead! Old=no cellphone!

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