Being semi-off grid I occasionally stumble onto a rift in the iDevice/Google/Microsoft continuum. The technological equivalent of a society which is simultaneously bitchin’ cool and too clueless to survive. Today was such a day.
I needed semi-immediate contact with a guy I call only infrequently. Both of us keep the Internet at arm’s distance so an e-mail might take a month to get through. It’s a hundred mile drive to his house so showing up unexpected (while amusing) was unwise.
The only logical course would be a phone call. Here’s the twist; I didn’t know his number. My Trackphone is so primitive that it runs on coal but it has a phone book (which is unpopulated). I hadn’t called in aeons so he wasn’t in the phone call log.
Back in the Cenozonic they had these printed book things that had everyone’s number. Worked very well but you had to you know be able to read and use an index. How archaic is that?
So I plunged into the welcoming embrace of the Internet. Ten minutes later I came to an odd realiziation:
For $30 I could get a background check. It would have everything…up to and including his favorite rock band, the VIN on his car, his dog’s blood type, and almost certainly the phone number of every cell phone, iDevice, and landline he has (listed or unlisted). But there was no way in hell I was going to get his phone number for free.
Really? Is that not weird?
I am going to commission a time machine. I’m going back to the 1970’s when phones had big mechanical rotary dials and AMC Gremlins lurched around following the first “great automotive bailout”. I’m going to tell everyone “in the future Germany will be reunified, medicine will be awesome, any movie you want will be piped into your home, TV’s will be the size of picture windows, and telephones will be the size of a deck of cards. I’ll also be able to get a background check on any American anywhere. But you won’t get a free phone number from a phone book and there’s a fee for calling the operator.” They’ll probably stone me to death with empty cans of Tab, run me down with a Gremlin, and go back to playing Pong. I’ll deserve it…because no conceivable future could be that weird.
” But there was no way in hell I was going to get his phone number for free.
Really? Is that not weird?”
Yes, it is weird, and it has happened in the past two years. The info may actually be there, but it would be buried 650 search pages deep, below all the paid priority pages. This is the business we have chosen. Free ice cream is not free, but it is mostly tasty…..if you can find it.
http://www.switchboard.com/ is still out there, still free. Also does reverse directory for free.