Hopefully, everyone who is reading this column today is doing so with ease — while I can’t vouch for the content, at least maybe the type is large enough for the words to actually be seen.
Which is more than you can say for the new CenturyLink telephone directory. Not only is the latest phone book smaller in width and length than the previous one issued in January of last year, the type size is noticeably smaller. Way smaller, as a matter of fact. The only resemblance to the previous version is its bright-green color.
But don’t just take my word for this. A faithful reader (of the newspaper, but unfortunately not of the new phone book because of its obvious obstacles) called the other day to voice her displeasure with the whole thing.
Noting its smaller dimensions in general and lilliputian-size type in particular, she had a similar reaction to me when I first gazed upon this book. That the telephone company should at least have had the decency to include a magnifying glass with each copy.
“This one is ridiculous,” she said. And it wasn’t as if the phone books of previous years were all that readable in the first place. On many a dark night while flipping through one of those directories in an effort to call a pizza place or whatever, I have ended up throwing it aside and getting the number off the Internet instead.
Trust me, the type in the new phone book makes all the other ones look gigantic in comparison.
“I could read the other one, the last one they had,” the dissatisfied CenturyLink customer said while unleashing her tirade against the new telephone directory. “This one is ridiculous — and if they think seniors can read this at all without a magnifying glass, they’re crazy!”
Her verbal barrage didn’t end there (in fact I was prompted to try to look up the number for a fire extinguisher supplier so I could put out the raging blaze in my ears from the woman’s heated remarks).
“I would like for you all to give them (the telephone company) a thumbs-down for that they’ve done” with the book, she concluded in reference to a weekly feature of this newspaper. “’Cause it’s worthless!”
Being the fair-minded journalist that I am and desiring to get both sides of the story without jumping to conclusions and reducing myself to name-calling, I endeavored to call CenturyLink to see what it had to say about its piece of garbage, pitiful excuse for a telephone book. (Of course, I had to look up the company’s number on the Internet.)
I actually was put into contact with an extremely nice lady in Hickory, who basically passed the buck on the issue.
“While the CenturyLink brand does appears on the Mount Airy directory,” she responded, “this directory is printed and published by DEX. CenturyLink no longer owns its directory business in this market, even though the company still makes the directories available as a courtesy to customers.”
Now that’s all well and good. But it would seem to me that if CenturyLink applies its name to something (which is the one distraught customers are going to be cussing), then you would think the company would have made sure a good directory resulted. Based on my knowledge of the publishing business, someone at CenturyLink invariably had to OK the mass production and circulation of said telephone books.
And you and I both know the reason behind this. It was done to reduce space and save money by getting the numbers on as few pages as possible.
Yet the bottom line remains that the basic purpose of a telephone book is to allow users to access numbers they need to call in an easy and efficient manner — without ripping out their hair. At least if someone were totally blind, they would be able to feel what the numbers were (in Braille) and not be subjected to the frustration of trying to read them.
Small type is a pet peeve of mine, and while I am at it, I must say that more than just telephone directories are guilty of this phenomenon. The print on some packages for consumer products is so tiny that you need not just a magnifying glass but a telescope in order to check out what it says. We are always being told to read the labels, but many times this is easier said than done.
I also have noticed that this is a problem with electronic equipment such as television remote-controls, DVD players, etc., which require a pair of reading glasses just to make sure you’re hitting the right buttons. Here again, would it kill any of these corporations involved to actually print something large enough for it to be read, since ease of use of their products would seem to be a priority?
However, the new small-print telephone directory really resonates with me, because a phone is a necessary device that we all use on a regular basis.
So just to make sure those who are responsible for it have a clear idea about my opinion of the new book, I will offer my assessment in an easy-to-read way:
Tom Joyce is a staff reporter for The Mount Airy News. He can be reached at 719-1924 or firstname.lastname@example.org.