My friend J is here this morning, sitting across from me in my living room. The fire is blazing in the woodstove. It’s cozy. While I write this on my laptop, J is talking to a couple of her entrepreneurial business buddies in Paris, a Frenchman and an Englishman, using her own laptop and Skype.
This fascinates me. It’s a little after 6 p.m. in Paris. She’s talking to these two guys on the other side of the world, laughing and making jokes. She’s talking to both at once – it’s a three-way, overseas telephone call. But there’s no telephone. She’s wearing a headset plugged into her computer. She’s lolling as comfortable as can be on my loveseat.
No “telephone.” Skype is free.
When I was living in Germany in another lifetime, calling home was something we did once a month. We arranged with our family and friends, via the original snail mail – it took at least two weeks to cross the ocean and the U.S. before arriving in their mailboxes — a day and a time for a conversation. Or we’d make arrangements for next month’s phone call before saying good-bye, if we remembered. The reason the calls were limited to once monthly was the expense.
My German phone actually had a counter on it that rolled, quickly, during our long-distance, overseas calls. It was counting pfennings. Ten pfennings per minute, actually. So an hour-long call cost about $60. There was my family to call, and my husband’s family. Occasionally, we’d talk to old friends back Stateside. My phone bills were stunning.
But here’s J, right now, today, talking basically for free to her friends in France. Isn’t that incredible?