Have you ever been amazed by how fast technology becomes obsolete? Last weekend, I was back in Ames for Homecoming and, as is the tradition, went to the house for Brotherhood. Afterward, we had a great discussion with some of the Actives about the way the house is now and the way the house was then. The current guys are all young enough that nobody who lived in the old house (pre-1998) was still in school. They've missed out (for good or for bad) on all the "it used to be this way" stories and were hungry for a few.
One of the guys my age asked if they still do "call dogs". This was a pledge duty back in the day were two phikeia would study on the first floor of the house and answer the door and phones and either take a message or go get the person who was requested. At the time the house only had a couple lines. We had phone "booths" on each floor and when you had a call you would just go to the booth and talk there. At some point in the late 90's people contacted qwest and hooked up there own phone lines to their rooms. Not every room, but some rooms.
When we got the new house my sophomore year we not only were going to have an automated phone system ("thank you for calling phi delta theta, please enter the extension now") that would eliminate call dog duty but also extensions in every room -even voice mail (IIRC). This was cool but not as cool as the fact that we were going to have a ethernet network through the house. Nobody had that...
Anyway, while discussing call dogs last weekend somebody asked one of the current Phis what his extension was. He said "my what?" The extension to your room. He didn't know. Nobody knew because they don't have extensions in the rooms anymore. Further, they didn't even know that extensions ever existed in that house. I said something about the house phone number and they didn't know what it was. Are you kidding me? Who could forget "two, nine, two - six, five, five, one-ohne" (as sung to the tune of 8675309/jenny to the ADPi's in a VEISHEA serenade)?
The reason they don't use extensions anymore is obvious - cell phones. They all have cell phones. My 15 year old brother has a cell phone. They asked us a question they would ask their grandfather "didn't they have cell phones back in your day?". Yes, punk, they did but not everyone had one at the time. At least not in 1998. They probably did by 2000 which was when Charley and I first went landline-less in our out-of-house apartment. As far as I know we were among the first to go to that extreme.
The best part of the story is that their is still a phone hanging in the foyer at the house. In fact, its the same phone that has hung their for 6 years. However, it's impossible to answer it. When you call the house you hear the same voice recording from the day they installed it (any Phi that pledged from 1996-2002 can tell you who) telling you to choose an extension. Only there are no extensions to choose from. Forget the no-call list, this is the way to eliminate telimarketers.
Since the phone is active (we tried it) they must be paying the bill each month; for a phone that never rings and extensions that you can never choose from. clown shoes.