I pick up the phone and dial the seven digits to call the Estevan Comprehensive School – those same seven digits that I have dialed multiple times each week for nine or 10 months each year.
The phone rings. Once. And then a pre-recorded voice tells me that the local number I have dialed must be preceded by the area code. And that if I want to avoid hearing this monotonous, dull voice again, I'll have to include the area code.
Fortunately, SaskTel is nice enough to automatically connect my call, saving precious seconds needed to hang up, dial the 10 digits, and wait for my call to connect.
I try to be the type of person who only needs to be told something once. If I make a mistake, I remember, and I correct the error.
Thus far, I think I've made the "area code mistake" 10 times. And each time, the same voice greets me. (I think she has spoken to me more than anybody else recently).
It shouldn't be this hard. I've dabbled in 10-digit calling for over a decade. When I travel to B.C.'s Lower Mainland for holidays, I have to deal with 10-digit calling. The first or second time that I try to call a friend, I'm reminded of 10-digit calling. The error is corrected, and I remember to punch in 10 digits for the rest of my holiday.
So why is this so difficult? Why do I struggle with 10-digit calling?
Seven digits are a habit. I'm used to the phone numbers for the Comp., City Hall, the Estevan Bruins' office, and the other numbers that I call on a regular basis. It'll take time to adjust to the fact that the Bruins' phone number has changed, even though it's still the same.
I'm also blaming the phone book. I check the phone book to find a phone number, and the first three numbers are "634." Nowhere does it start with "306." So I automatically start to dial "634." Then I hear the pre-recorded voice. Again.
Hopefully the new phone books will be adjusted for 10-digit calling, so that this process will be easier.
Saskatchewan's growth is great. It's brought new people to our province, it's created opportunities that didn't exist previously, and it's changed people's perceptions about the province.
And, because there are more people, there are more phone numbers in use. Which is part of the reason we have a new area code, and 10-digit calling.
It's not a bad thing. I'll adjust to it. Eventually. We all will. But in the meantime, I'll cuss, scream and pull out my hair every time that pre-recorded voice reminds me about those three extra numbers.
And I won't be the only one.