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Thursday, June 20, 2019

Digits With A Story

Once upon a time, one of two sets of three digits identified where people in my lifelong home state likely resided. 201 marked you as a New Jersey Yankee; 609 made you a New Jersey Rebel. Though our North-South line of demarcation didn't carry as much cultural or historical baggage as the Mason-Dixon line, when I was growing up there were at least a few stories attached to those digits. And as an adolescent, I recall those stories helped to make me proud of my 201 roots as well as sometimes a bit wary of those 609-ers.

Now that New Jersey residents can have any one of six area codes, I suspect folks Gen X-age or younger would find this reflection baffling, at best. I wonder: What percentage of people in those age groups know the first three digits of their cell phone numbers have a geographical significance? Do they ever wonder why any friends they've made who first got their cell phones when they resided in a different state - or a different section of New Jersey - don't share their area code? Do younger folks ever use the phrase area code? Are there any New Jersey stories connected to 908, 856, 732, or 973? Do any of those stories involve regional differences, e.g. Do people expect those with 732 area codes to be more likely to own several beach chairs?

It's highly doubtful anyone reading this is old enough to recall when the New Jersey phone universe had one area code. But if so, I really want to hear your recollection of when the State got bi-furcated. Also, I've got to know: Do you still have a landline? If yes, what percentage of the calls you get each day are robotically generated? And, have you read Reclaiming Conversation? Great book, right?

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