COLUMN: Lack of handset leaves a vague, unnerving feeling

THEY'VE taken away my phone.

Well, to be fair, all the telephones in the office have gone - though not, I should point out, our means of communication.

In their place are neat little headsets that connect us in "new ways" through our computers.

It's a change that has its upsides. Gone is the shrill, insistent ringing that demanded an immediate answer and raised the office noise level by quite a few decibels.

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In our brave new technologically advanced world, a more harmonious sound now alerts us to incoming callers as an icon quietly pops up on the screen.

Numbers are dialled, calls are answered, messages left and life arranged with a few simple clicks of the mouse.

Nothing surprising, I know, in this age of rapid technological advancement, but hard to get used to.

It's been a week and I'm still reaching for my now non-existent handset to make a call. And my desk looks strangely spacious.

Worst of all, though, is that vague, unnerving feeling I've been left empty-handed. Decades of calls made on everything from wall-mounted black Bakelite phones and sleek, coloured plastic table-top models to cordless handsets had one thing in common - I had to hold the receiver.

Headsets were the sole domain of telephone exchange operators and switchboard receptionists.

How many times in the past, neck and shoulder crunched together while I scribbled furiously as I interviewed over the phone or hung on for hours taking care of complicated business matters, did I wish in vain for some amazing development that would leave my hands free while I was spoke? Not anymore!

But old habits die hard. I'm guessing even smart phone users would feel a little lost with nothing in their hands.

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