How different it was 40 years ago when I was living and working for the American Army in Aschaffenburg, Germany and state-of-the-art communication with family and friends States side was by letter. And it took at least a week or more for a letter to cross the pond.
And while an overseas phone call was not altogether outside the realm of possibility, calling the States from Germany was a rare and expensive undertaking.
In fact back then any personal call was for me a rarity, as I didn't even own or have much access to a telephone unless I could find - then figure out how to use - a local pay phone.
At that time I was renting a small apartment on the third floor of the home of a German couple, Hedwig and Adolph.
So for all practical purposes I lived without a telephone.
What this mostly meant to me was an inability to call in sick to work. Not that there was anybody to call, as I ran the post craft shop and my boss was some captain who worked in an office on a different post and I didn't have his number, anyway.
I did, however call home to the States once during the three years I lived in Germany.
It was an event.
First I had to bicycle (my principal mode of transport) several miles to the Deutsche Bundespost, or German Post Office, located on one of the American Army posts in Aschaffenburg . At that time There were 3 posts in the town but only one of them (and not the one I worked on) had a Deutsche Bundespost.
Upon entering the Bundespost I was directed to a small room that contained a couple of phone booths, a waiting area with several wooden chairs, and a desk at which sat the international operator who, thankfully, spoke English.
I gave the operator the number I wanted to call and paid him in advance. I believe it cost maybe around two dollars a minute. (But remember, that was two 1975 dollars, back when the minimum wage was $2.10 an hour).
The operator then advised me that it would take about 15 or 20 minutes to put the call through. So I sat and waited, brimming with excitement and anticipation, my stomach leaping when he finally called my number.
As I recall, the connection wasn't that great, it was rather echo-y. But my parents and I were able to quickly exchange the necessary information.
And that was the essence of my sole call from Germany to America.
Then it was back to writing letters to stay connected.
I guess we weren't as connected back then as people are now. I guess we didn't need to be so connected. Because we couldn't be. Now we can be connected to each other, any time, almost anywhere in the world. And because we can be connected, we need to be.
They say necessity is the mother of invention. But I sometimes wonder if invention isn't the mother of necessity.