When searching for a phone number these days, one is faced with a dilemma: Which phone book do I use? Which phone book is most likely to have the number I’m looking for? If I can’t find the number in the first book I pick up, what are the chances I’ll find it in one of the other 5 phone books competing for my attention?
I currently have, in my office, the following phone books. Please keep in mind that they all claim to be the most comprehensive listings:
- Feist Yellow Pages
- City Metro Area white pages
- Three different county-specific books
- Two local area books
So which phone book do I use? My first instinct is to use the most accessible phone number directory I have – THE INTERNET. I don’t use the six printed phone books stacked under my desk, unless I’m desperate, for two good reasons: One, because I don’t want to spend 5 hours poring through the teeny tiny typeface, my nose pressed to the page so my extremely myopic eyes can actually see the words, and Two because it’s unlikely I’ll actually find what I’m looking for. And then there’s the question of which book I should use. The metro edition which lists some of our area, one of the county-specific directories that cover some of the outlying areas, or perhaps I could give one of the local books a shot? It really doesn’t matter – the phone books probably won’t be worth ruining my eyesight for anyway.
Today a sales call came through from a gal wanting to sell me advertising in The Northland Directory.
“But we already have an ad in the Northland Directory”
“Is it THE Northland Directory? Because we’re the most comprehensive Northland specific book”
“I don’t know. It’s the Northland something or other. It’s really hard to know considering I get about 1000 phone books every year…”
“Look, if I advertised in every single book out there, I’d be broke. OK?”
I could have stopped there, but how often do you get a chance to unload several year’s worth of phone book frustration on a person who actually works for a phone book??
“There are too many books! Why are there so many? It’s ridiculous to have so many phone books. Do you realize how confusing this is???” I clamped my mouth shut, realizing the poor woman – phone book ad salesperson or not – had no control over the problem of massive phone book bombardment on the American public.
“Sorry to bother you” she said nicely and hung up. I imagined her quickly crossing our business name off her contact sheet with a super-wide Sharpie, obliterating our name for all eternity. At least I hope that’s what happened.
The other day we started receiving our yearly phone books at the house. Strangely, the people who do the deliveries are rarely seen actually putting the books on the porch, but it seems that everytime I open the door there’s a bright yellow plastic sack containing yet another phone book staring me in the face. I imagine the delivery people have been coached thoroughly by their bosses to be discreet. “Look,” the manager tells them in the pre-delivery meeting, “people don’t really want these things anymore. We know that. So just do your job and get the hell out of there without drawing any attention to yourselves.”
Right now I have phone books shoved into every possible phone-book appropriate place in the house. Throwing them away seems wasteful and un-Al Gore-like, but recycling them is a bitch. But occasionally I’ll go on a phone book purging rampage. ‘Thunk’ into the trash can. Thunk, thunk thunk, until I’m down to just one regular phone book and my shelves can once again be used for more practical items – like books I actually use.
After that I’m good for about two weeks. And then I open the front door…