My life is too short for long scroll-bar selections

Do any of you remember the old fashioned telephones.  I don’t mean just the ones that have a cable that connects into the wall but those with a dial on the front rather than push-buttons.

I always liked those phones for some reason.  Maybe it was the noises the analogue lines would make when it was making a connection.  What I really liked though was operating the dial.  I did and still do think they are so cool.

Retro Telephone

Dial 999 for emergencies or die trying.

Of course, even as a child I had a major problem with them though.  Living in the U.K., our emergency number is 999.  I’m sure there was a good technical reason why this number was decided upon decades ago but in an emergency was it the best idea?  More than that, could there be a worse number to have in the era of old dial analogue phones.  To dial 111 on an old phone would be little slower than on a modern phone.  Dialling 999 though would take an eternity.  Five or six seconds for the dial to return to its starting point.  I wonder how many people died as a result of the wait.

I guess in the USA the powers that be decided to filter out the very ill after the first 9 but anyone left dialling was obviously worth saving so they opted for 911.

These days hardly anyone uses a dial phone.  Personally I like the very old candlestick phones.  Who cares that you can’t wonder round the house with an old house phone.  You just need a really long cable and a servant to find where you’re sat!

I guess the modern equivalent of dial phones are scrolling internet menus.  You know the type, January –  December with January ALWAYS at the top and often already highlighted whilst December needs to be scrolled all the way down.

Sometimes I wonder how much time I waste over a year or even over a life.  All my options are always at the bottom.  Whether I am on-line ordering, completing a survey or government form or just finding out what’s on at the cinema.

Let’s take my birth-date.  December, well we know where that is on the internet scrolls.  December is treated like the dirt on your shoes.  If you’re not born between January and April then you have to scroll.  December people have to scroll a lot.

Never-mind I hear you cry, it’s not fair but it’s not the end of the world.  Actually it is the end of the world but I’ll come to that later.

No-one likes me and I don't care.

Even registering on websites is a pain when they are all biased against December and end of month people.

Next up is the days of the month.  All the days start off at the 1st.  Why not the 15th or the 31st or the number that every month has, the 28th?  Why do they have to start at 1?  Are single figure date people not bright enough to scroll backwards.  I’m born on the 28th so in my opinion with my month and date it is just give, give, give with those January 1st sort of people.  They make me sick!

To make it worse, the birth year is requiring ever more scrolling.  Why not set the year as the average date of the country you are in rather than the year 16 or 18 years ago?

I can’t even catch a break if I want to go and watch a movie.  I’m sure that someone somewhere thinks that listing towns in alphabetical order is a good idea.  Maybe it is, maybe I’d be agreeable to it if I lived in Aberdeen or Alnwick or even Aberystwyth but noooo, the nearest big town to me is a place called Watford.  Every time I want to see what’s on any my cinema, book a pizza delivery from my local branch it’s the same old story.  Again with the scrolling.    Why can’t someone start their town/city scroll in the M position.  It would be fair and it would cut some slack to Manchester.

5 or 6 clicks down is Watford

Watford, always at or near the bottom of every list on UK websites.

The Internet was set up by really smart people so there is no real excuse for such a lack of vision and given that the Web was invented by Sir Tim Berners Lee there really is no excuse for the final part of this unfortunate story.

Whenever you place an order for anything on the internet, you have to find your country on a scroll bar.  I mentioned the end of the world and when it comes to scroll bars that is pretty much where I live.  The United Kingdom.  Well yes there is Zambia and Zimbabwe I suppose but they probably don’t live in town beginning with ‘W’ so aren’t so touchy about it in the first place.

I know what people in the USA are thinking,  we have it worse. Yes, yes the United States is always ranked one position under the U.K. but 99% of the time it is also listed as the first country on the list.  Sometimes Canada is number 2 but apparently web-designers think they will get a lot more business from Albania and Angola than the U.K. or maybe it is just the British patience with queuing and standing in line.

It doesn’t end there though does it?  No it doesn’t Stephen.  You see we aren’t always listed under the U.K.  and for people who don’t understand the name of our country we can be listed as Britain.  Hurrah, a rare event but it elevates us to the likes of Burundi and Botswana.  If not, then maybe we are under Great Britain.  More scrolling…. we must be here sometimes…. do they want my order or not.  Hmmm, no Britain, no GB, no UK.  I know we must be under England.  Yes, I have found my self, technically totally wrong but maybe people in Alabama and Alaska might want to do the same for their websites and save some valuable scrolling time.

So there you have it.  Internet ordering doesn’t like me.  I am born in the last month, in the last 3 days of the month (technically all part of the same scroll display), my home town is literally at the bottom of everything and I count myself lucky if I can find the name of my country near the bottom of that long list without having to scroll up and check numerous different options.

U.K. at the bottom of the lists

More scrolling….. apart from its place in the Alphabet does Afghanistan really warrant always being the top of any internet menu or ordering system?

It’s enough to make me want to dial 999 on one of those old phones, it would still be quicker than entering my basic details onto a website.  I suppose, maybe, just maybe it could be worse.  For those times those country lists don’t have the U.K. but instead have the 4 component nations of England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.  I suppose that just maybe, I should just be thankful I don’t live in Wales.

About Stephen Liddell

I am a writer and traveller with a penchant for history and getting off the beaten track. With several books to my name including several #1 sellers. I also write environmental, travel and history articles for magazines as well as freelance work. I run my private tours company with one tour stated by the leading travel website as being with the #1 authentic London Experience. Recently I've appeared on BBC Radio and Bloomberg TV and am waiting on the filming of a ghost story on British TV. I run my own private UK tours company (Ye Olde England Tours) with small, private and totally customisable guided tours run by myself!
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10 Responses to My life is too short for long scroll-bar selections

  1. merrildsmith says:

    I remember when my husband and I bought our first rotary dial phone for our first apartment. We were so excited! 🙂
    My birthday is in December, too, but it’s never bothered me to scroll to it. You must do much more Internet shopping than I do. 🙂 For movies, I Google the theater we want to go to, so no scrolling.


    • I remember our first dial phone too. It was amazing to have something at home like they showed on television.

      Merril, you are far too smart for me and my minor irritants 🙂


      • merrildsmith says:

        You’re funny, Stephen. I get annoyed by many things–I just don’t find scrolling that irritating. Now sites that make you start over and re-enter information over and over again before it goes through–that’s annoying! I was buying tickets online for Book of Mormon, and the ticket site insisted that my address and zip code didn’t match. They did, of course, but then the site said I had timed out, and I had to start over. I think the seats I ended up with were better though, so I guess it worked out. Maybe there’s a moral there, but I’m not sure what it is. 🙂


  2. Boyer Writes says:

    Oh yes! I remember them. I also know something about being last on a list. My maiden name was West….W was always last…when we lined up at school; calling the roll etc. etc. Sometimes I feel happy with the “old days” because everything seemed so much slower…and less stressful. We seem so impatient unless everything is quick…quicker…or quickest! I guess we could be waiting for the operator to answer and then listen into our conversations.
    Life goes on, however. I’m just waiting for those little delivery drones to start buzzing my neighborhood. Oh Please!!


    • I’m with you on those drone things. Just another way to put more people out of a job. I don’t want or need everything or really anything in a hurry nor do I need everything to be open 24 hours a day. If these drone things are so good, I wonder how long before we can have personal ones so we can ditch our cars.


  3. Ditto as a Watford lass originally! Just love the ‘white noise’ as the dial click clacks back to it’s starting point PLUS a good size handset that my silly hands can easily get hold of without dropping ….. Ahhhh the good old days aye!? 🙂


  4. emilialiddell says:

    Witty, funny. I enjoyed reading it!


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