A Question for the Evening, 5/14/14
Posted on May 14, 2014 Posted by John Scalzi 196 Comments
How many current phone numbers can you recite from memory?
The question comes from a discussion Krissy and I were having about how few current phone numbers either of us know, because in this day and age, one’s cell phone, with its contact list, takes care of everything for you. This is opposed to, say, twenty years ago, when one actually probably had a substantial number of phone numbers memorized, for friends and family and co-workers.
Twenty years ago, I probably know two or three dozen phone numbers off the top of my head. Today, I know exactly six: My landline number, my cell phone number, my wife and daughter’s cell phone numbers, my wife’s work number and my mother-in-law’s phone number. Everything else is handled by my cell phone contact list. I’d like to think I’m using those reclaimed neurons for important things, but I suspect they’re being used to store information about Harry Potter characters or something.
So: Off the top of my head, I know six current phone numbers. Do you know fewer? Or more?
Three. My home phone, my cell phone and my mom’s home phone
Fewer. My parents and our home number. Of course, I used to know more (nothing like having to dial a number to help memorize it).
My cell phone, my wife’s cell phone and the landline phone number I grew up with…and being a Chicagoan
Three: my ex-wife, my ex-girlfriend, and my roommate. Not sure what that says about me…
Oh, yes, like Katy, my cell phone number. So that’s three.
Fewer. I know the numbers for my cell phone and our land line. If I throw in 911 as a freebie — because I can *usually* remember it — that’s a total of three.
Fewer. Four: my cell, wife’s cell, landline of the house, and my parent’s landline (because it’s been the same for 30+ years).
Actually, I could probably rattle off the old landline numbers of friends from high school, but those are useless, surely. But hey, THAT stayed in my brain, and not the importance of the Missouri Compromise or such.
I remember some random phone numbers from before the days of cell phones. They are long since been deprecated, but they’ve stuck in my brain.
You know everyone’s number on the planet…they are just stored in your “external memory”. Think it’s bad now? Just wait until your BrainPals ™ become reality!
Three. My home number, my mother’s number, and the local brothel (It’s actually less exciting than it sounds. It happens to be one digit off from my mother’s number. This has proven to be very embarrassing on occasion.
I know our (which is to say, me and hubby) landline number, and our cell numbers, also my parents’ individual cell numbers. My parents moved about three years ago. I still remember the number to their old house, because that’s where I grew up, but I never did memorize either their current number or my inlaws’ number. While I can’t remember the number of my last employer, I remember the number of the grocery store where I worked just prior to that, because that’s the longest time I’ve spent in one job (8.5 yrs), and the number for the store was basically just repeating sets of two numbers, with a zero on the end.
Three: my cell, husband’s cell, parents’ landline. So at least the most important people are covered?
In non-current numbers, I can remember the home phone of my elementary school best friend (25-31 years ago), because my brain apparently doesn’t need those particular neurons for Lord of the Rings trivia. Go figure.
Two. I can give other people my number, or I can call my husband. Anything else and I’m screwed.
Four: the home line, my mom’s cell, and my two cells (it’s a long story, but both are still current). I can also almost remember our neighbour’s and some close family friends’, but I don’t want to test them to see if I’m right
A dozen or so. Ho,e mobile, wife’s mobile, mom’s landline, work, several telephone conference bridges for work, my bank, 411, areacode-555-1212 (which I use for my supermarket discount card). And a bunch of non-current phone numbers (former home or work numbers, mostly. My parents’ house phone number had letters in it when I learned it. And is Pennsylvania6-5000 still current?)
I know seven, eight if you count the number to my childhood home but that one is over 15 years out of date. Of the seven current numbers, four are work related. That probably means I work too much.
If you want to count 5-digit extensions at the office, that goes up to about 25.
Ten – mobile numbers for me, my husband, each of my parents and a couple of close friends plus both my landline work numbers.
On the other hand, I can recite details for all five of my debit/credit cards plus my savings account, driver’s licence, passports and tax file number. So definitely a shift rather than a loss from my point of view!
I can certainly recite more e-mail address off the top of my head than phone numbers. Probably close to an order of magnitude difference
1. My father’s home phone, which I have memorized since being a little boy.
I don’t even know my own cellphone number.
I have a whole bunch of numbers memorised, but then I work in the call centre of a major ISP, and as such have 3-4 of our numbers, 2-3 of our business partners*, and assorted other numbers like mobile and landline numbers for family and friends, etc.
I still rely on my external brain (phone) for a whole lot more numbers though, naturally.
(*) I make/receive hundreds of calls a week, so some of those are more muscle memory that conscious memory, mind.
Three – my cell, my wife’s cell, my parents’ home (unchanged in ~25 years, so that one is easy).
I know more, but not many. My mobile, my wife’s mobile, and our Google Voice number, my parents, two for my wife’s parents, a couple friends’ numbers, my work number and several of my coworkers’ work numbers. My coworkers’ numbers are easy though, because they’re similar to my work number.
Before cell phones, I refused to use the speed dial memory on my land line phone because I didn’t want it to supplant my own memory. Now I’m afraid that ship has sailed.
The vet’s, my two sisters’, my husband’s work phone, my work phone, my cell phone, his cell phone. Seven. I used to have my credit card # memorized, but it’s been compromised and replaced every few months over the past year and a half, so I no longer know the current one.
…Currently active: grandmothers’ numbers (both of limited utility and superannuated history), Dad’s landline and cell numbers, stepfather’s number, three cell phone numbers of dear friends, the landline number of one of the latter, an ex-fling’s (easily-remembered) number, my former landlord’s number, the public number of one of my clients, the number of the rehab unit where I was recently a patient, and the business office line of the hospital that operates that rehab unit.
There’s also this number. Either you get it, or (more likely) you don’t.
…Which makes 15 in total.
I am deeply ashamed that my editor’s number is not on this list; I’d recognize the last seven digits on sight, but don’t actually have it memorized.
I know my cell and work numbers, my housemates cell number (only because it’s 2 digits off from mine). I remember the old Mr. Gatti’s pizza number from Austin from when I was in college, the Empire carpet number, and my parents old phone number from 20 years ago. :)
On the other hand, I also remember every email address for most of my friends and relatives as well as the email and website addresses of several dozen people and businesses. I suppose those are a little easier to remember since they’re actual words/names, rather than random strings of numbers.
oops, left out our “home” phone number which is now actually another cellphone because we didn’t want to pay to have the wiring fixed on the landline. So: eight.
Six. Like other people, my wife and my own cell phone numbers, also my office phone, my office’s tech support number, and two other work – related numbers.
I can also remember the phone number I grew up with, but I don’t count it because my parents got rid of it about five years ago.
A better question would be”How many passwords do I have memorised?” which would be: MANY, though I’m begining to outsource that, also
Six numbers (home, cell, wife’s cell, Mom, brother). Although I know my wife knows more, probably 10 or 12 that I’ve seen her dial from memory.
I think 4, maybe 5. My cell and a couple of friends and family who have had the same land line number for the past 20+ years. Don’t know any of my family’s cell numbers. I do, however, know a fairly large number of IP addresses by heart.
My home, husband’s work, parents, friend who hasn’t moved in 25 years, one neighbor, that’s 5. Are you sure I can’t count my home phone from when I was 8 years old?
I know at least a dozen. Off the top of my head — my mother, my credit union, my own landline, my detested cell phone, a former friend, three numbers (home/work/cell) for a current friend, my dentist, the 1-800 numbers for one of my credit cards and my insurance company, and a couple of former office numbers (still current, I just don’t work there any more).
I am one of those people with a freaky number memory, so I can also tell you the account numbers for my credit card, gas company, home and car insurance, book club, etc. When I still worked an office job I knew dozens of phone numbers.
I also have a broadcast calendar utility from working in cable advertising back in the 1990s.
I’ve actually never been able to memorize numbers. ANY numbers. If you rattle off a number, I can’t remember it long enough to dial – you have to give the number to me in three parts. I asked a doctor about it once just after I graduated college, and he shrugged & said that perhaps that part of my brain just didn’t develop as well when I was in the womb. I can remember *conversations* I’ve had thirty years ago, though. Much to the consternation of boyfriends who lie (I’m currently single, lol)
Cell phones and their contact lists have been the biggest blessing to me, as I’m sure you can imagine.
Three. My cell, my wife’s cell, and the house I lived in when I was six. All of the intervening houses, and the current numbers of my children and parents, I have no idea about.
Eleven and a half: twelve and a half for family, four businesses (two numbers for one of those), and the local transit system’s customer service number (which also accesses their real-time bus tracking system). The “half” arises because I missed the last digit of my aunt’s & uncle’s number — which previously belonged to my mother’s parents.
More, largely because of work. For personal numbers, I know my cell phone, my fiance’s, my dad’s cell, my brother’s cell, my parents’ landline. Then I know my work line, a half dozen coworkers, and a couple lines for our bank. Plus a couple fax numbers, believe it or not.
[whacks self upside head for data entry goof]
Gah, make that six and a half for family, for a total of twelve and a half.
[whacks posting engine upside head for lack of editing capability]
I know about a dozen by heart because I don’t like poking at buttons and scrolling around tiny screens. I used to know more than that, but pregnancy swiped my memory for details and refused to give it back.
Back a while ago, I started relying on the list of recently called numbers that pops up when I push Send without entering a number first, and then I misplaced my phone. Never doing that again. I have found that if I write a number down over and over, I can still remember it. So the important ones: still in my meatfiles. The really important ones: written on a piece of paper that is stuck to the back of my dumb phone under a thick layer of clear tape.
Three. Maybe four. Then again, I don’t have that many friends.
We’ve been passing off our memory to devices for literally thousands of years, since the invention of writing.
Six, same as you. My home and cell numbers, my parents’ number, my father’s business number, and the numbers associated with a place I worked for 28 years. All but the cell predate contact lists by thirty years or more. My parents have had the same number for sixty years.
Fewer. My parents, my office, my cell phone, and my old land line to my house that I disconnected ten years ago. That’s (/me counts fingers) FOUR! There are FOUR phone numbers!
Oh wait! Five! My old office number from ten years ago!
Oh wait. You said CURRENT. Obviously I have bad reading skill.s that knocks it down to three: cell phone, parents and my office.
3… 5 if I can count 2 of my own!
20 or so — I have an older, dumb cell phone and can’t back it up, so I don’t trust it to remember numbers and I dial ’em by hand like I did back in the landline days.
Why do we still call it dial? What does, say, a person of Athena’s age call the process of inputting numbers into a telephone to make a call?
I keep thinking about Mike from The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.
Why do we ever need a number anymore?
Of course, when Mike dies you cant reach anyone again.
Strangely enough, email addresses and not knowing the email address is just as bad as phone numbers.
Current numbers? two or three. VERY old numbers? Several. I’m so old, I recall when the first two digits were a word. THOSE old numbers are VERY handy when I need a pass-word. CY(press)5-1234 is NOT someone most people would hack. (And BTW, my exchange was NOT Cypress)!
I can think of four: my cell, my wife’s cell, my land line, and my office. (I also remember several numbers of mine and old friends from 20+ years ago.)
More, probably to the tune of a couple dozen or so, but that’s because my job is on the phone and I’ve been calling the same booksellers for the last twelve years.
Our phone system displays the incoming number rather than the business name, so I can also add a passel of stores whose numbers I don’t call frequently enough to rattle off, but can identify when they flash across my screen.
For non-work numbers, six: home, my parents’, my cell, husband’s cell, two friends’ landlines (but not their cell phones).
Let’s see…I know my landline, my cell, my best friend’s landline, my work, the car dealership that people are usually trying to get when they call my work number (“It’s 3606, not 3660), my old phone number, Dominos Pizza for basically the same reason as above, my mother’s work number, then there are maybe three or four people at work whose numbers I can remember and our IT guy because I call them pretty often. So I guess that’s more than average now, lol.
I don’t even know my own phone number. I have a Google Voice number that I remember, though.
Just one number, 867-5309.
My cell and my husband’s cell. I don’t know our landline number (which I only use to make calls if I’m not getting good reception), which is a source of much merriment. My husband once called me (before I had it programmed in) and I answered and said, “Oh! It’s my home phone!” My friend has never let me forget that.
I do still know my phone number growing up, but it’s no longer active!
Six. My parents’ home (same phone number as my childhood), four of the five phones I pay the bill for (house, my cell, spouse’s cell, my mom’s cell), and the pizza place a few blocks away. (Unless you count the pledge phone numbers and call-in numbers for the local public radio stations, then I think I can get up to a dozen…)
11. My home phone, my cell, my husband’s cell, my dad, my sister, my sister-in-law, husband’s work, my old work (haven’t managed to memorize my current work), my dad’s house in AZ, one friend who has had the same number for 30 years and my childhood phone number (now disconnected).
The same. My home phone–landline–my cell, my daughter’s cell, and my husband’s cell. My parents’ landline, including the area code, which has changed twice over the last 50 years. Husband’s work number. The landline of one close friend, mostly because it’s one digit off from the phone number my best friend’s parents had decades ago. Clearly still remember that one, but it’s not current. I don’t know my best friend’s current number. ::blush in shame:: Local pharmacy number. That’s easy: it’s 6661, same exchange as ours. Credit union number, for some reason. Auto shop (not sure what that says about our cars).
I also almost remember a few doctors’ office numbers, but I usually have to check to make sure I get the exchange right. Comes from not having the area phone exchange map memorized.
So, definitely nine. Another half a dozen nearly reliably. And some I’d probably recognize on sight, but wouldn’t be able to dial off the top of my head.
I was disturbed to learn a few years ago that my mother didn’t know the phone number I’d had for ten years or so. She shrugged and pointed out that she didn’t have to because her phone has it.
my home phone, my cell phone, my parents’ phone, the sheriff’s office (because it’s a simple number). I recall reading something Einstein purportedly said when someone asked him if he knew how many feet were in a mile. “Why should I clutter my mind with useless information when I can look it up in a reference book?” So, what’s in my brain these days? Stuff I’ve picked up over the years working crossword puzzles – comes in handy for trivia games, but then I don’t do many of those, either.
Two, my own and 9-11. I got a cellphone in 2003, and that was with immense pressure from my girlfriend. My parents always had trouble financially keeping a phone line, so the numbers I had once memorized rapidly became useless, and then the phone kept track of everything after.
This has proven problematic. If I lose my phone (which I do, like, all the time) there is literally no one I can call for help. Of course, in the old days, when I got stranded without resources, I had numbers to call but no one was ever home to answer…
I work at a law office and use the phone all day, so I probably have at least 20-30 commonly called numbers memorized, along with corresponding fax numbers. Yep, we still use a fax machine every day!
I don’t think “588-2300 Empire” should count, so I have to say three: my house landline, my cellphone, and my uncle’s number in Detroit — the only number still working that predates me owning a cellphone.
My grandparents’ (they’ve both been dead for ten years) number in Dearborn (they haven’t lived there for twenty-five) was “CR4-0384”. That was burned into my head at the age of four, first because if anything bad ever happens, those are the people who can fix it, and second, because even if nothing bad has happened, you can call it and talk to grandma.
I can remember five easily (me, wife, land-line, father in law, mother), and maybe a few others if pressed.
The scary thing is how many moribund numbers from the 70s, 80s & 90s that I can rattle off. All of my close friends from high school (30 years ago), numbers of various places I lived in my teens and 20s, Dad’s house, grandparents, etc. Why is this stuff still in there?
Current? Just two. But I have to think of my phone number and my wife’s. The number I don’t have to think of is the one I had in the 1950s.
When I was a bachelor, I didn’t need to give my number to merchants. I didn’t memorize it. After all, if I called it, either nobody would be home, or the line would be busy.
Three actual numbers (my parents’ land line, my cell, and my office line), and a whole bunch of work extensions that all start with the same prefix.
Mine, my husbands, my office number, and maybe my MIL’s if I try really hard. My daughter recently switched from our phone plan to her father’s, and had to get a new number, and I have absolutely no idea what it is.
3 (but really 4)
My number, my parents landline, my work number, and (remarkably randomly) the number to my landline in my college apartment from 10 years ago, that I still occasionally confuse with my *real* number… never mind that 507- isn’t anything like 336- so I have no excuses or comprehension on that particular gem.
Two, one of which is mine. And I don’t even have a cellphone.
My home, my parents’ home, my cell and work, my wife’s cell and work. The parents of a friend of mine from college. (also, several commercial numbers with letter mnemonics, but they don’t count) I’ve got 6 too!
But I never knew many more than that – we adopted cell phones late.
I think I am at 5.
Wife’s cell, Parents’ house, Mom cell, Dad cell, and my own cell. I used to know my old office phone and duty phone but I think that information has been put in cold storage. Also recently I called overseas using an old calling card that I used to utilize all the time. For an amazing 3 days I had easy access in my mind to the number and the corresponding access pin. But it’s gone now…
Lessee… house land line, self, wife, 2 daughters, mom, work land line, general office number. 8.
I know about 10 now, but like you 20 years ago I knew more than fifty and there was a list in my wallet for ones not yet memorized.
Information about Harry Potter characters *is* important information.
And I think I can recite 7 – my cell, my husband’s cell, our house phone, my mom’s cell, my sister’s cell, my mom’s work, and the pizza place I order from way too much.
Fascinating to read the comments.I’m clearly an outlier at >30 friend/family numbers easily coming to mind (and many more out of date) but then I also know the current credit card (and the past two prior iterations), library card, bank accounts, family SS numbers and so on; my brain just does numbers. This extends to alphanumeric strings – I can give you the 32-random-character string for our wifi password. It does *not* do names; not even when I try linking them to numbers, alas.
I once had a wallet card for several dozen numbers (in tiny print), back in the BC era (Before Cellphones).
Now I can, easily enough, remember about 13 (including very important ones such as the pizza shop).
More, but only because I use phones without contact lists at work quite a bit. My cell number, my mother’s, my home landline number, my friend’s mobile, his wife’s (only because it’s one digit off of her husband’s; her phone has never been on when I’ve called it anyways), my work number, our help desk line, my supervisor’s number, the other supervisor’s number, and 5 coworkers. However, mine & my coworkers are all identical for 8 of the ten digits, which makes it much easier. I can figure out several other coworkers’ numbers based on that similarity, too.
There used to be a couple more, but those folks changed their phone numbers — and so now I can’t remember the new numbers. I used to have a couple of pizza places’ numbers remembered, too; I can probably drag a couple of those out of memory, if I needed to.
All of those numbers have been around over a decade, too.
I remember the circumstances of the first number I couldn’t remember — a friend changed his phone number a bunch of times over a year or so, for various reasons. I just gave up trying to recall it after change #2 or 3; just plugged the latest number into my (first) cell phone.
My son; my parents; and I’ve been using the same pharmacy so long I have their number memorized (not for much longer, though; because of an exceptionally stupid corporate policy, I have to change).
So true! I remember phone numbers from childhood, my husband’s number, our landline, and that’s about it!
P.S. before my mom fell victim to senility, she could remember her very first phone number from 1948. Getting a phone was a big deal then in rural areas, although I think they’d become fairly common in cities by WWII.
I know Jenni’s 867-5309, my own cell (for some strange reason since I don’t call me) my daughter, her husband, my wife, my parents landline, the pizza place that delivers in town, our old home phone, and the auto mechanic we take our car to. So 9, I win at life.
Ewan– I suspect you and I share the same adult eidetic memory, which is a rare (or maybe not a real thing) but valuable ability to remember detailed things with great accuracy. For the longest time I thought I might be alone, but there are lots of us out there on the internet.
If you can remember long random strings of digits and text, with ease, after a few moments of study, then you may have an eidetic memory. Or you may be silently using mnemonics.
But, regardless, all my passwords and keys are actually MD5 hashes of different entropy. And for phone numbers – I’d have to setup a quiz, but like you its well over two dozen. Glad to know other regular readers with that odd ability :)
My own, a couple of my current clients’ that I use almost daily (with some some thought) and the cell numbers for myself and my husband. But not even my son’s cell number!
On the other hand, I’ve memorized nearly 50 different passwords/PINs to various websites, databases, and accounts.
Two. My cell phone and my mother’s office line. I recognize lots of numbers but probably couldn’t come up with any of them if I needed them. I’ve got a bunch programmed into my phone though.
The funny thing about knowing my number is that I rarely take calls. I only make them. And I had Verizon turn off voice mail because that isn’t a user controlled option. People that want to talk to me have to email.
I keep a .docx file with all my numbers. I only trust my own backups. Trusting ‘the cloud’, IMO, is pretty stupid.
Ooh, I was thinking about this recently too. I know 7 but one is from about 20 years ago and I’m embarrassed to admit current ones slip right through my memory. 8 if you count Jenny’s. :)
My cell phone, my office line, my parents’ home phone . . . and the home phone numbers of several childhood friends’ parents. So three that matter and three that don’t.
Is it bad that of the 12 or so I can recite, one of them is my mechanic and they recognize my voice when I call?
I know an old friend’s still. Not sure if that is still her number…
Two. Mine, the spouse’s. And I memorized the latter mostly because of a situation where I was in an accident, didn’t have my cell phone with me, and sat around for fifteen shaky minutes, while insurance companies and cops were called, trying to remember that number so I could call for a pick-up. Not fun. But now I know it!
Three. You should plot a graph….assuming you have unlimited time for that useless effort. Hehe.
If we define “current” as “a number I could call and leave a message or maybe get the person” I’d have a bigger number than the definition I think is more useful – a number I would ever actually dial.
By that metric it’s my cell and the wife’s cell as well as our home phone number (which actually just goes to an electronic voice mail and never rings anywhere – really only ever give it out for loyalty cards at grocery stores).
With an infant in the house we actually make more calls that aren’t even to numbers. They’re video calls to friends and grandparents so they can see the boy. Often they get answered on devices that happen to have phone numbers, but we’re using Facetime or Skype IDs to make the call.
I guess I know several of those email addresses. Do I get credit for those?
Just one–my own cell number. also, Im surprised at how many people still use landlines.
Should I include the phone number for a liquor store I’ve never called, but it’s memorable? Seven Eighths liquor 888-8888? Besides that, it’s probably 5, maybe 6. I’m sure that if I had children with phones it would be higher.
Four: my mobile, my landline, my former workplace’s landline, and two GP clinics (the second only because the numbers form an important date).
I’ve had my mobile for years and it’s only in the last few months I’ve remembered its number.
I know 2 numbers–my landline & my cell. To Rachel: I still have a landline because–even after buying my original “stupid” cell in 2007, followed by 3 smartphones and now my second “stupid” cellphone–I still don’t understand cell phone basics.
Let’s talk email addresses for a second. I email & receive emails at least as frequently as most people use their cells. Has anyone made a cellphone which allows you to save, sort & store hundreds of phone messages? Thought not.
I never knew any numbers by heart. Always carried a little booklet with me with everyone’s number in it. The reason I got a cell is that I got stranded for a few hours in 2003 and was going to miss a very important appointment as a result. It took me about 40 minutes to find a payphone and, not having expected this to happen, I didn’t have my little booklet with me, and I only knew ONE number by heart–someone quite removed from my situation. I also didn’t have pocket change for more than one call. So I called that friend, who was there (lucky for me!), and asked THEM to go look up the various people I needed to notify and to call them for me. After I got off the phone, I decided that situation was the last straw and it was time to get a cell. So I used the idle time to find a cellphone store, get a phone, and open and account.
Quite a few more – the question is backwards for my brain, as usually it’s what is the number for, rather than how many numbers can you list, but:
my cell, hubby cell, work (2 land lines, fax, and after-hours cell), client R (ironically, because she now has my parent’s old land line, not because I call her frequently), client S, client B, client L, pet rescue, DNR, lawyer, feed store, mom cell, dad cell, maternal grandparents, paternal grandparents, University veterinary hospital, university diagnostics lab, competitor’s business, client M, pizza place, coffee stand, veterinary surgeon, sheriff dispatch (not 911, the actual dispatch office number), city police.
This is a far cry from the list of dozens of numbers I used to have memorized before I started using cell numbers frequently, when I had so many numbers memorized that my friends would just call and ask me rather than looking things up…
I could probably come up with more if asked for them by name.
16 – do I win? :)
My home, work and cell numbers; my son’s cell, my ex’s cell and non-working home, my mother’s, my brother’s, my 2 brothers-in-law’s, best friend, the pediatrician, chiropractor, acupuncturist, and 2 other doctors. Not counting the phone number I had as a kid, my grandmother’s (she taught us all how to dial a phone so we’d call her), and my childhood best friend’s.
Oh, 2 more – my parents’ neighbor/my old teacher, and the number for AVID microchips
Three. My mother’s landline (who even has one of those anymore?) and two random friends from home. But I find myself confusing and conflating the parts of them: when I entered Chris’s number into latest phone, for instance, nailed the area code and first three digits, and then added the last four digits of Marc’s number.
Nine, if we’re counting our own phone numbers. I know my land line number and my cell phone number. I know my mother’s land line and her cell. I know my step-mother’s land line number, my friend’s house phone and her work phone. The phone numbers for my local library, city hall, police station, oh and my doctor’s office. That’s more than nine. Guess I’m not so good with arithmetic.
One. My own. I don’t know my land line number, as we only use it to take international calls from the in-laws. I don’t know my wife’s, as it’s on speed dial.
I do remember my phone number as a child, though, back in the day when phones were connected to the wall with wires, and you had to spin a dial to call someone. 825-3332.
I know about five. Two of those belong to people no longer living, so those might not count. Heck, I don’t even know my own cell phone number. Never had to call myself.
2. my phone number and my husband’s (and only because I made a concerted effort to learn my husband’s, as I have been in a pinch without my phone before). I barely even remember my OWN old phone number (although I can still recite my childhood landline 20 years later)
One I think: my own mobile number.
Side comment on my lifestyle: I’ve memorized my frequent flyer number but haven’t a clue as to what my driver’s license number is…
5-ish. And in pre-cell phone days I doubt it was more, since I’ve never been much of a phone person and I’m terrible at memorizing numbers.
1 Work stuff 1
2 work stuff 2
3 Work stuff 3
4 My beloved
6 workflow guy @ well work
7 My uncle
8 Help desk @ work that I have to give out alot
9 work conf call dial in
10 our (now defunct) landline – still used for loyalty cards & such.
11 my office #
12 my mobile #
20 that come to mimd. Although 4 are my boss: work, mobile, car, home and at least 1/2 of the remainder are work related. Maybe I work too much…
Three: My home phone, my cell phone and my ex-wife’s home phone (because it used to be my number too). Back in the day, I knew at least 2-3 dozen.
Seven, six of which are landlines. Work mobile, work landline, home landline, and landline numbers for oldest friend, bro-in-law, sis-in-law and parents-in-law.
I know at least a hundred. Here’s how :-)
I remember all the work numbers I have ever had. I have worked with telecom operators my whole life and the employee numbers were always in a continuous series. So, all of my colleagues’ work numbers were from the same series with differences in the last 2 or 3 digits. I remember the numbers of most of my old colleagues who are still working there.
Other than that, I know about a dozen phone numbers – mostly family and some very old friends.
I also know my credit card / debit card / bank account numbers by heart.
Four. My home phone. My wife’s work phone. A phone a buddy of mine has had for years but that I never call. The house I grew up in, even though the number has been no good for 20+ years.
This isn’t because I have a cell phone with contact information in it. I still have only a landline and an answering machine. It’s just that no one else expects me to call them, so I have very few numbers I need to remember.
I can remember almost every single phone number i see. Usually after first glance its pretty much stuck.
It’s a gift ;)
Yes, I used to know about 20 phone numbers back in the day and now it’s only six. But instead I also have about 20 passwords and pin-codes in my head now!
I hate this question.
Home, mobile, husband’s mobile, mum, mum’s mobile, sister’s mobile, BFFs mobile, other BFFs home number, emergency, taxi. I also remember my nana’s phone number and a few from my childhood, for people who no longer have or use those phones and haven’t in decades. But I keep forgetting where I put my tea. Stoopid brain.
Only two. My own mobile phone (because I write it on forms a lot) and my parents home phone (because it hasn’t changed since I was a child). I don’t know my own landline number, I’ve never had to dial it…
6, but 4 of them are work-related numbers. I know my landline and my mother’s landline, but I always have to look up my mobile phone number when I need it for official paperwork. I still answer my home phone with the phone number most of the time but for some reason the mobile phone I just answer with Hello.
3. My home phone, my cell phone, and my mother’s home phone.
5: My mobile number, my mum’s landline, my dad’s landline, and two workplace landlines (I work in two locations)
I can rattle off 13 current ones without thinking about it at all, and could come up with more if I sat down and cogitated for a while.
I do not have a cell phone, and I don’t use speed-dial functions on landlines. I also hate talking on the phone and avoid it at all costs and I very, very seldom make calls even with the landline, which is why I only have a bit over a dozen numbers in the memory banks.
Seventeen, I’ve always been good with remembering strings of numbers (I can recite pi, e and many constants on demand). Of course four of those numbers are defunct now..
BTW, a tip for all. Print (or write) a list of useful numbers and stick it in your wallet/card case so you have them when your phone is lost, stolen, defunct.
Wow. I thought Harry Potter was a little too twee for your taste.
There are still quite a few rattling around in there. Cell phone #’s for Me, husband, mom, dad, & brother; Parent’s land line, my work number, my dad’s work number, boss’ cell and desk, local pizza joint, local chinese delivery. I don’t however know what my own land line number is. I don’t have a phone even connected to it.
I’ve always been good at remembering strings of numbers too, but apparently my brain got full. I can now remember my cell phone number because people keep asking for it, and my husband’s because his number differs from mine by one digit. The land line and my kids’ cell phone numbers? Um, I think one of them has a lot of 3s…
18. Of course, I don’t have a smart phone, I have a 7 year old dumb cell phone that I only turn on when I travel or other rare occasions, and I don’t even have any numbers stored in my cell phone. I do have some numbers stored on my home landline phone.
oops, I forgot about all the work colleagues work phone numbers, Instead of 18, make that around 30.
I have found that I not only know fewer numbers, but I have a decreased ABILITY to learn phone numbers. I have had the same office number for two years and am still not always confident I have it right when trying to remember it. I just can’t put in the same focus when I know I can either 1) remember it and give it out or 2) say “give me a sec” and look it up in my cell phone. That’s something I would have memorized by lunch on my first day, way back when.
Seven. I’d list them but that’s boring. What’s interesting to me is why I know that many numbers, and it’s for two reasons, neither having to do with my ever calling those numbers as such.
The first reason is that my friends are lazy and have not customized their outgoing voicemail messages, so whenever I call them at a bad time, I get the generic outgoing message that includes the phone number read in a slow, robotic voice. I don’t have to memorize those numbers, but something about the cadence makes it nearly impossible not to. (That they’re lazy is not a condemnation: I’ve been too lazy to even set up my voicemail, let alone customize it.)
The second reason is that the stereo in my car is paired with my phone through Bluetooth, so an incoming call displays on the stereo. But for whatever reason, it only shows me the phone number that’s calling, not the name. And the number scrolls, so I’m again forced to read it at a slower cadence to figure out who’s calling. So again, without really meaning to, I get the numbers stuck in my head.
Two. My own cell number, and my own work landline number. I don’t even know my boyfriend’s cell number, but I would recognize it if I saw it.
That said, I have my (14 digit) library card number memorized, as well as my (9 digit) health insurance ID number. Because I like to check out books online, and fight with the insurance company over their billing errors.
What’s a landline?
3 – my cell phone, my google voice number, and the phone number of the house where I grew up that’s now my sisters number.
Numbers I probably should know, but don’t – my office number, my wife’s cell phone number, my best friend’s number, my in-law’s phone number.
Come to think of it, I believe that the only other number of consequence that I have memorized is my SSN and that comes from when I went to college they used that as our student ID (this was back before that would have been a big deal) and you had to know that number to deal with *anything* in the school administration. Write something down 6,284 times and you remember it forever…
I’ve got about 20, a mixture of work and personal. Surprisingly, I can’t remember my own landline. That one is only in my cell.
Not counting 0, 411, and 911, I know only two phone numbers. First, the Brooklyn Heights phone number for the home I lived in from age 9 months to sixteen years. Second, that of the home that I’ve owned for twenty five years. I do not have a photographic memory (I know someone who does, who works for the IRS as she has the entire tax code memorized), I have an Isaac Asimov memory — anything that I understand is recalled forever. It FEELS as if, to remember a new phone number, I have to forget an old one to make room.
Fewer. I know my cell, my husband’s cell, and my mom’s cell. I actually don’t know my landline, but the only reason we even have one is because somehow it magically made my cable/internet bill $5 cheaper to have one than to not.
7 or 8 depending on how technical you want to get. My cel phone, my parent’s home, my grandma’s home, 2 other office’s land line and fax lines and my old disconnected land line that is still linked to me for some different purposes.
It’s a good day if I can even remember my own mobile phone number.
At least 20 current phone numbers. I don’t program them into phones for one-touch dialing, except for immediate family members on my cell phone. Keeps my memory working well.
About the same. I know my home phone number, our two cell phone numbers, my brother’s home number, the number of our Italian deli, and my dentist’s number. I still remember my office phone number, but since I retired in January it’s no longer a working number.
I also remember three phone numbers from my childhood: two LOrraine7 numbers from upper Manhattan in the ’40s, and one GLobe2 from Poughkeepsie in the ’50s. All the intervening years are a blank, except for one office number I mnemonized as either VOGINAL or UNIGOCK.(both are the same digits).
Two. Mine and my wife’s. And I only recently memorized hers after 7 years together. Or is it 8 years?
Let’s see, I know my cell phone, my office number, my boss’s cell phone and my google voice number. So four, half of which are for work.
My home, cell, office, wife’s cell, wife’s office, parents’ home, in-law’s home, sister’s cell, both grandmothers’ home numbers, Mom’s work, dad’s office- assuming it hasn’t changed, my PCP, my kids’ pediatrician, One or two close friends. That comes to 14 or 15. Not too shabby.
Oh, and MElrose5 Five Three Hundred.
Hm. My cell number, my office number, my other office number, my other-other office number, my co-worker’s number and a handful of client numbers. Probably about ten in total. Shamefully, I DON’T know my mother’s cell number, brother’s cell number or sister-in-law’s cell number. I also, embarrassingly, don’t know my own landline number (though in my defence, I never give that out because I’m virtually never there, and I’ve only had the number for three and a half years – whereas all the other numbers I remember I’ve known for more than ten years apiece!)
I know three: my cell number, my work number, and my mother’s home number.
I don’t even know my own home number, and I’ve had it for 19 months. I give it to people all the time–it’s the phone I don’t answer, so I give it to businesses, as they might put me on some sort of calling list. But I don’t have it memorized.
I barely have my cell number memorized; sometimes I have to check. I’ve had that number for 12 years.
Pretty sure the only reason I have my mother’s number memorized is that she’s had it for 40 years and I had to memorize it as a child.
My phone number neurons now keep track of computer passwords and logins.
By the way, one’s CONSCIOUS MODEL of one’s memory is called METAMEMORY.
3 “real” numbers: my cell, my main work number, my parents home number (which hasn’t changed in more than 3 decades). Like others, I know 867-5309, but don’t know if it is current. I know a couple “short cut” numbers, like 911 and 411. Oh, also, 967 11 11 is probably still current.
Three. My home and cell and Mom’s doctor. Make that six with emergency, information and operator. ;p
I’d include Jenny’s (867-5309), but no area code, and I haven’t called it since about never so I don’t know if it’s any good.
Passwords: at least eleven, and I’m not including the ones for crap websites where it’s either the first eight of whichever email I used or “passthis1#” you [delusions of grandeur website that insists on numbers and symbols]!
I had this very discussion with someone (maybe my wife?) recently too. Lemme think. I can recall around 4 numbers. I’m not sure this is due to cell phones though, since it’s only been within the last 2 years that I’ve had a smartphone. This also may be an indication of my reliance on the internet to establish communications and the degree to which my friends have migrated onto the web. Phone numbers come later, if necessary.
The standard 4: my cell, wife’s cell, house landline (which we keep mostly for 911 calls and power outages affecting the cellular system), parent’s house landline. My parents and my kids all have cell phones too, but I don’t know those numbers off the top of my head.
My cell, my landline, my husband’s cell. I don’t even know my 3 kids’ cell numbers by heart though I would recognize them if I saw them written down. My 13 year old daughter knows all of our cell numbers, I Laing her two older sibling’s by heart and often dials them in by number rather than by list.
Five. My cell, my husband’s cell, my landline, my sister’s cell, my parent’s landline.
And yeah, like you, twenty years ago I knew several dozen.
*Including, not I Laing. -_-
Sorry. Should’ve hit preview first, especially considering how much the swype feature fails me on my phone.
4: My cell, my work phone, parents’ landline, and aunt’s landline (because she decided to use it as her wifi password. Crucial information to have when visiting).
I probably only know three current phone numbers, but I have repurposed old phone numbers that are no longer active, but still stuck in my brain, as passwords and PIN numbers. Very handy not having to use up new brain cells. I can keep those for storing important things like titles to TV show episodes.
11. Including my own. They are all family members that I correspond with regularly.
Three: Home number, Mom’s home number, Dad’s home number. Don’t even remember my cellphone number but my usage for phone calls is in single digits each month.
What I do remember now are passwords. I work in an industry that requires multiple passwords at work and I have a different password for every site and store I use online. I probably have 50+ passwords in my head.
15 or so: my land line, my cell, my work, 8 other work numbers [coworkers+fax], my mom, my sister, my uncle, my best friend
Three. My home landline, my cell phone, and my wife’s work phone. That’s because those are the three numbers I have to give people from time to time filling out things like forms at a doctor’s office or the like. Since I always use a contact list to call anyone, I have no occasion to actually use numbers even if I call them fairly often. Don’t know my daughter’s home or cell number, for instance. My parents have both been dead for well over a decade (well, they’d both be centenarians if they were still alive; I’m 77 myself), so I’ve managed to forget their phone number. (Can still remember our home phone when I was in high school, though, and for that matter the one when I was in grade school – though it was only three digits, so not much of a feat.)
2. I know my number and my husband’s. I don’t know my children’s cell phone numbers. I don’t know my dad’s number or my grandma’s or my father-in-law’s. I don’t know my sisters’ numbers or their husbands or any friends’ numbers.
I remember the phone number for the Dallas Times Herald Classified section (even though I never called it, and that newspaper ceased publication in 1991) because they had a TV jingle that played in the 1980s and is now stuck in my brain FOREVER.
8: My cell, My mom’s city house, my mom’s country house, my dad’s house, my sister’s house, my grandmother’s house, my husband’s cell, my friend from high school’s parent’s house (I still call them on the anniversary of his death)
I can think of 6, off the top of my head. My personal cell, my work cell (though I so rarely give that one out, I occasionally have to look it up), my wife’s cell, my home phone, my mom’s work phone number (because it hasn’t changed in like 20 years, since before I had a cell phone), and my best friend’s cell. That’s it.
OH! And also the phone number for AlarmForce Canada, because they have played the same song in their radio ads for about a decade.
My own cell, my wife’s cell, my parent’s home phone, my work phone. I do not know my own land line. So 4 numbers that are currently in use. I also remember the phone number of the land line I used to have as a kid, but I’m not counting that one anymore…
Five – our home number, my mobile number, Tammy’s mobile number, our best friend Raquel’s home number, and her Mother’s home number (because I dialed them for years when we lived in NYC). Raq’s had a mobile phone for almost twenty years, and I still have to look up her mobile number!
My inclination was to say 3 (my phone, my parents phone, whose number has remained constant for 20+ years, and the Chinese place I get too much take-out from). But then I remembered I know the RTA information line (836-700 from any of three area codes). There are probably others I know, but would only remember if I needed them. Memory is kinda cool that way.
12 that I can think of offhand: mine, my parents’ home and cell numbers, 4 of my 5 siblings’ cells, my grandmother’s home phone, the two places I work at, and Empire carpets.
Two. My cell phone number and my first phone number (71 years ago…TI60885). Sad.
I know about two.
Let’s see: my landline, my cellphone, a credit agency’s phone number (one swapped digit off my cell; I get their wrong numbers all the time), my dad, two different sisters, my old work number, Empire Carpets (588-23hundred, em-PIRE), Lincoln Carpets (call NAtional 2-5000, NAtional 2-5000!)
And all sorts of numbers from my adolescence which no longer apply.
But I do remember some 20 or so different passwords.
My home phone
My work switchboard
my work direct line
The direct lines of about half a dozen other people at the office, because it’s simply a matter of putting the area code plus “24” at the start of their extension
Curiously, I can also remember Dad’s office number from the job he retired from eight years ago, and my nan’s number from the last house she lived in before she died twelve years ago, but I don’t know either of my parents’ or my sister’s current numbers.
I remember a ton of phone numbers from when I was a kid — probably 25 or 30 — but I don’t really have much occasion to call my friends’ parents any more. Other than that, it’s my wife’s phone and my folks’ and in-laws’ phones. As for anyone I’ve met since, say, 2000, I don’t remember a single one.
Not a lot, and I don’t have or use a mobile phone. My immediate response was just 3 (4, if you count 911, the whole point of which is to be easily remembered): my landline, and the two local taxi companies since I go nearly everywhere by cab. After a minute or so reflecting, I realized I also remember the numbers for my last employer, their sister company from whom we rented space, and our parent company out of town.
Our daughter and son-in-law each have mobile phones but no landline (had to pay a fortune to get them a proper dry-loop internet service installed, since the wiring at their place is apparently atrocious. I can recognize their numbers when they call us, but I’d have to look them up if I wanted to call them.
Along with Jenny’s 867-5309, I also remember Pennsylvania 6-5000 and (via Squeeze) 853-5937. Beyond that, I know my home number, my work number, and my first phone number growing up. Oh, and 911.
In a clear sign of my priorities, I know both my parents’ numbers and the numbers for Round Table Pizza and our local Thai takeout place.
Eight. Home, husband’s cell, My work, my cell, my co-worker’s work number, my sis-in-law, my parents-in-law, the pizza place. Wow.
Ack — very sorry to repost, but I, of course, also remember my own parents’ number, making it nine.
Four: My mother’s landline (hasn’t changed since childhood), my sister’s cell, if I think *really* hard, my niece’s cell, and my own Google Voice number. I don’t even remember the actual number of my own phones because I route them all through Google Voice.
I actually blogged about this nearly a year ago — I remember only a couple of phone numbers, far fewer than I used to, but at the same time, I have lots of strings of characters and numbers for various userIDs and passwords floating in my head. At the time I wrote the post (http://whatsthewordnow.blogspot.com/2013/05/memory-and-strings.html) it was 32 such strings, but I have a new job now, which requires about 10 more userIDs and passwords for the various services I perform there. So I don’t think my memory’s in too much trouble.
I have a vague, drunken recollection of a friend asking me another friend’s phone number. At the time, it was the most hilarious thing in the world, the idea that I’d have a friend’s cell number memorized. I can easily rattle off six numbers these days – mine, my previous workplace’s, and some family.
Only counting numbers that are currently active, I can think of just over 2 dozen phone numbers off the top of my head. To be fair, I use about 3/4 of those on a regular basis (weekly for some, daily for others) and the rest are ones that haven’t changed over the past few decades.
A quick skim through the comments makes me nervous that I seem to be the only one here to have memorized the numbers for my local liquor store and beer distributor…
(and for the others – 4 #’s for employers, 4 for family and 2 for friends – so an even dozen all together)
Most of what I remember is historical – friends from HS/college and family or they are the numbers I give out the most.
I also purge numbers I no longer need.
I have the recently added difficulty of Japan phone numbers.
So I have parents, in-laws, auntie, HS best friend, wife cell, my old cell, Japan cell, Japan office, and Japan bullpen phone.
But in the mix are library cards, credit cards and a bunch of 12 or more digit passwords.
Two, my own, which spells out a computer command and that’s my field so it’s easy to remember, and my parents which has been the same number all my life.
About a baker’s dozen and a half times two, the bulk of which are work related.
My home. My work. My two mobiles (personal and work). That’s four.
My parents. My best friend when I was at school (not dialled that number in 20+ years – I have to consciously apply the PhONEday mapping to it, but it’s there. His parents still live there, so I could call them, I guess)
My late grandparents (another one that wouldn’t help anyone, but the number will get you whoever bought the house after they died)
01 811 8181 (um, that would presumably be 020 8811 8181 nowadays – BBC Children’s TV call-ins. Still current but I’m not likely to call it any more).
Probably a few more along those lines.
Actually useful ones: four personal and my parents, so five. Yeah.
Lots that are still technically current, but not useful to me any more.
I came up with a dozen pretty quickly. But only 4 or 5 are actually useful. I know cell phone numbers for myself, my husband, my son and my best friend. I also know one brother’s landline, because it was our home phone number growing up.I know the numbers for a local pizza place and a local lumber yard, because they are places I have worked in the past, two numbers for my current employer, the number for a local hotel, only because it is such an easy number, and the numbers for a couple local clubs I belong to. Most of these I knew prior to having a cell phone, otherwise I would probably not know them.
Off the top of my head I know my cell, my work, my sister’s cell and my mom and dad’s cells (but to be fair my dad has had the same cell number since before I had a cell phone and my mom’s is my old number). I do have a chinese place memorized because I refused to acknowledge I ordered from there enough to need it in my phone but I’ve moved so it’s no longer useful.
Four. My parents’s landline, their work line, my mom’s cell phone and the work conference call line.
Thirty-five to forty, at best guess. I work in a job where I call the same forty guys day after day, and, possibly because I have Aspergers’, I’m very, very good at retaining phone numbers. I can’t call EVERY guy on our list by memory yet, but I’m two-thirds of the way there.
Let’s see, my cell, my husband’s cell, my boss’s cell, my parent’s landline, my direct line, and our main office line. So six. That’s more than I expected actually.
I always find this striking–how few numbers I know now, even ones I call often, compared to the pre-cell phone days.
Half of one. Mine. Have little place left to put things I don’t need to remember.
I work in customer service, and can recite 7 work-related numbers and 6 personal numbers, one of which is no longer used but my brain won’t forget it. Yes, I know more numbers I don’t care about than those I do.
I remember exactly one, my own land line, and even then I occasionally blank on it, which is pretty weird since it’s been the same since 1982, apart from sticking an extra 0 in.
I don’t have a mobile, because even my daughter has given up on me; I lose them, or I lose the charger, or I lose both. It’s just not worth the hassle…
Home land line, sister’s land line (this one has existed for about 51 years), daughter’s cell (but only 1 of the three), local pizza place, local restaurant (because the last 4 digits are my birth year, and the first 3 are 666). So, five.
I was about to say three — my cell, my mother’s cell, and my parents’ landline. (My father has a cellphone too, but the number’s less memorable and he rarely uses it.)
Then I remembered that I use the phone a lot at work. (I work at a place with a lot of small offices handling various things, and there’s a culture of picking up and calling rather than sending an email if it’s for a quick question or something complicated to explain.) If we include work numbers, I probably know a couple of dozen still. But in terms of numbers I use in my personal life, it’s three.
One. My own landline. What is this cell phone thing of which you speak?
(My sister’s number is Memory Dial 1, if that counts.)