If you're like most millennials I talk to, the answer to that question is somewhere between zero and two. For me, it's four—not much better.
I remember the landlines of the house I grew up in and of my childhood next-door neighbors. The street I grew up on, a quiet country road on the New Hampshire seacoast, was super tightly-knit. The five houses on the block all had kids the same age. We went on ski trips together every winter, canoe trips every summer, sat around bonfires in the fall. And we called each other up to go play.
The fourth number I know? I insisted
on memorizing my best friend's phone number, and vice versa. And it's a good thing, too. About a month ago, I (as I've done more times than you'd believe) locked myself out of my apartment after stepping outside in the early morning to retrieve a package. I had no coat (on a blistery March morning in New York), no phone, no wallet, no roommates. I hadn't yet made copies of my keys. I didn't know my neighbors
at all. But, I knew one phone number by heart!
The delivery guy lent me his cell and I called my friend, who hacked into my email, dug up my landlord's number, who called the upstairs neighbor, who was home and let me inside.
Being cold, tired and flakey is hardly an emergency, but it was something of a wakeup call. I realized how important, helpful, and just damn good sense it is to have an old-school, human memory card for when we can't rely on the technology that's come to dominate our lives. It's just seven digits folks. Make sure there's at least one person whose number you've memorized—just in case.
This post is part of the GOOD community's 50 Building Blocks of Citizenship—weekly steps to being an active, engaged global citizen. This week: Learn and share your neighbors' contact information. Follow along and join the conversation at good.is/citizenship and on Twitter at #goodcitizen.
Original image via (cc) flickr user Â© Verbal