Sunday, May 20, 2018
One of America's Great Newspapers ~ Toledo, Ohio


419 reasons why change isn't all bad

We can't say we weren't warned.

So why am I putting off the necessary reprogramming of all the telephone speed-dials and modems and whatever else I haven't even thought of yet (fax machines!) which, come this weekend, will first demand the prefix 419?

And whose idea was this, anyway?

Yeah, yeah.

I know.

We're depleting our available numerical combinations for use with the area code we've already got.

So now we have to get ready for that fast-approaching day when a new metropolitan area code will make its debut, causing a need for distinctions between local three-digit prefixes.

It's a remarkable feat when an area that's reported to be losing population - well, in the city, anyway - manages to run out of numbers for its existing area code.

Must be all those new township subdivisions driving the need for a new area code, huh?

Around our office, anyway, this impending dialing burden is described for us by the techies as “10-digit dialing,” a phrase which, by its very expansiveness, suggests we're getting an unexpected bonus out of all this.

But I'm not about to take the curmudgeon path on this one. I'm a forward-thinking individual. I am, after all, someone who barely blinked during the transition from black-and-white to color TV.

And there's much merit in all the advance notice we've been given. It gives us the chance to make area-code dialing a habit, and of course, the best way to adopt any new habit is to dive in.

For (one nine) example, I pledge to spend the rest of this week crowbarring the phrase “four one nine” into whatever possible configuration of words I can, the better to club myself on the head with our new need to add three digits to each and every phone call.

Yes, even to the pizza place.

I wonder if something similar will happen here as happened in New York, after the exhaustion of the 212 area code spawned, shall we say, less desirable prefixes, which had people hoping against hope to be blessed with an “authentic” New York number.

Not that we here in Toledo have the kind of population density that such pining would provoke.

On the other hand, look at Russia. The whole nation boasts just a handful of area codes: Minsk, 0172; Moscow, 095; St. Petersburg, 812, and then there's the rest of the country, reachable by first dialing a mere 7.

Makes me wonder who really won the Cold War. The Russians certainly aren't wasting their time trying to remember to punch in the area code.

No, if anything, here in Toledo - insular city that we are - we'll use area codes to make distinctions between old-time Toledoans and newbies.

This would come about in much the same way we now like to distinguish between those who remember Tiedtke's and those who don't.

It's a Toledo thing - a little citizenship test we tacitly administer to one another.

But don't fear Saturday's more demanding dialing requirements. We'll adjust. Change happens.

You want proof?

Ask yourself: When's the last time you gave out a phone number by beginning with the “cherry” or “greenwood” prefix?

Roberta de Boer's column appears Tuesdays, Thursdays,

and Saturdays. Email her at or call 1-419-724-6086.

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