A couple of months ago I had to revise my old-fashioned Rolodex file because the Aspen Ski Co. moved to the Airport Business Center and all of the departments’ direct lines were changed from the prefix 429 to 300.Aspen’s prefix used to be WAlnut-5, and when I got here it was 925 (the W and the A equating to 9 and 2 on the dial). Ads in The Aspen Times just gave the last four digits because everyone was 925 (area code 303), just as everyone’s license plates started with ZG.There was quite a flap when 920 was introduced into the system. Locals who played musical apartments, a dance that was as ongoing then as it is now, found themselves in new quarters with a new prefix: 920, branding them as newcomers. Yikes!And about the same time, ZG plates were usurped by VBS if you changed vehicles. Now we have a hodgepodge of license plates, three numbers followed by letter combinations such as AGD (not just for old people), EEK (not just for timid drivers) and GPI (not just for people who work at the Glenwood Post Independent).I accidentally lucked out with my VW beetle with the license plate 910-DBG, which I remember by thinking, “9, 10, big fat hen-de BUG.”In the phone number department it’s a free for all. For a while 544 was low on the totem pole, but then came 429 and 300 and new prefixes sprang up in Glenwood Springs and even Woody Creek; between that and the fax numbers and the cell phones (when are they going to get directories for them?) you don’t know where you’re calling anymore.In this day when an 800 number (there are a lot of 800 prefixes now) might be answered in Bangladesh and an Aspen city survey-taker might be calling from Kansas City, I guess it’s clear that we’ve been reduced to meaningless ciphers.I used to have a head full of advertisers’ phone numbers which I remembered by making words out of the last four digits. My own number is 925-STEW, easy to recall, but it’s a lot harder to anagram a seven-digit number and impossible when you tack on an ever-changing area code.When I was back East last month, I found that you had to dial 10 digits to call for Chinese takeout a few blocks away with the same middle prefix, and sometimes, but not always, needed to precede it with a “1,” getting chastised by a robot voice if you screwed up.Since I’m at a point where I forget the names of my co-workers and daughters, not to mention people, however memorable, whom I’ve met or run into many times, I have no room at all in my shrinking brain for random numbers.Su Lum is a longtime local who has lost her little black address book and is up the creek. Her column appears every Wednesday in The Aspen Times.
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