A friend of mine told me that back when he was a little kid, he and his parents were stuck at the airport one afternoon. And he kept hearing people being paged to the “white courtesy phone.” It sounded so glamorous. These people must be very important, he thought. So he snuck away from his parents, went to the ticketing desk and managed to get himself paged to the white courtesy phone.
Now, that was a genius move on his part. I’m annoyed that my 10-year-old self never thought of that. And now the opportunity has passed me by. I haven’t checked recently, but I’m fairly certain that “white courtesy phones” no longer exist. So I will never hear, “Paging Saara Dutton to the white courtesy phone.” That ship has sailed.
Then I started to think about other sounds that you no longer hear, and I came up with this list:
1. The “tska-tska-tska” of an NYC taxi printing out a receipt. It was such a comforting noise to hear at the end of a long night of socializing; city lights twinkling (or sun rising) or coming back from the airport after a trip. Hearing that noise made you realize you were home.
2. The Dial Up Noise. It was kind of exciting. You were off on an adventure, you were about the surf the world wide web! This annoying noise was like the 20th Century Fox theme, because you knew the show was about to begin!
3. Searching for a particular tape in the glove compartment. It made this wonderful rustling sound, all those cassettes smashing against each other. You just had to grab THAT particular mix tape (shoving aside U2, The Smiths and the Iggy Pop tape you stole from your brother) to set the mood in your shitty car.
4. “You’re welcome.” I don’t know why, but no one says it. They say, “Uh huh” or “No problem” but they never say “You’re welcome.”
7. The whirring sound of scrolling through a microfiche in a dark area of the library.
8. The satisfying “ka-chung” you’d make in the voting booth, after you’d selected your candidates and pulled the metal lever back to the right. This solid, bold, industrial noise announced loud and clear: “It’s official! I have voted, damn it!”
9. The squeaky wheels on the rolling metal cart that carried the film projector into your classroom and …
10. …the comforting, steady sound of that film projector, and the flapping noise it made when the spool ran out.