Friday, May 26, 2006

Long distance isn't just for the Vanderbilts anymore

After 108 years, the guvmint is repealing the excise tax on long-distance phone calls, and will refund the taxes paid under the law for the past three years.

As the son of a former manager at AT&T, back when it was a good ol' fashioned benevolent monopoly, I can only chuckle and shake my head at how our government keeps up with technology. Dad used to struggle with the government regulators, mostly at the state level, but certainly the Feds got in on it too, which was understandable when AT&T was the only game in town.

I think he knew that the regulators were good to have, to protect the customers. I think he was also a bit put off by the insinuation that he didn't have the best interests of his customers at heart. After all, he was one of his own customers, as was his wife, mother, sister, and as were all of his kids. What I recall--although I was pretty young at the time, so my memories are faded--was his frustration at the slow pace of change, development, and approval from government agencies when AT&T was trying to bring something to market.

He died many years ago, so I don't know what he would say about repealing this tax; I can only imagine, based on my memories. I do know, however, that if he were still here, I would call him on Father's Day, excise tax or no, and if you're lucky enough to still have a dad to call, you would be wise to do the same.

By now, Father's Day has become lost in my mind. I can't recall when it is, and I don't really remember that there is such a day until someone asks what my plans are for it. I haven't had anyone to call or any reason to celebrate the day for 22 years now. Next year, however, I'll have a reason to celebrate, even if 3B will be a little too young to place a call--and too close to need to call. Maybe we'll slide in the one videotape we have of Dad, so 3B can see his grandfather, and then maybe give Mom a call to keep her company--as I probably should have been doing all these years.

As for this weekend, to honor my memories of Dad, I'll make a big bowl of popcorn--perhaps splurge and get some potato chips--and park myself on the couch to watch the Indy 500, as we used to do when I was growing up. It's a little different now that I'm all grown up, and all by myself--Mama tolerates my eccentricities well, but she doesn't participate in all of them, although Barky will probably join me for a nap on my lap for a little while. I'm not as deeply engrossed in the race as I was as a kid, but it's a good time to sit still and think about what we would talk about, maybe, if he were still here.

We'd probably talk about how I never bought him that Aston Martin that he claimed I owed him. Or maybe we'd just sit, eating potato chips, petting the dog, watching the race.

Who knows?


  1. Anonymous2:17 AM

    WOW my mom spent many years and retired from AT&T and Southwestern Bell. Talk about a small world. Anyway after your running of the Indy which I enjoy as well, and have my own Dad memories of but thats for my Blog, make sure you enjoy the Coca Cola 600 on Fox, one of NASCARs most famous and wild races.

    TCB in the South on Moonshine runners.