The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

DO AREA CODES REALLY MATTER ANYMORE?
My friend Chris recently dropped his longtime (407) area code mobile phone number in favor of one in (202). Why? Because he now lives and works in (202) territory, and doing business while carrying a (407) area code proved to be awkward when dealing with other (202)-based business contacts.

Why should this be? After all, we're living in a world where you can now hold onto your mobile phone number indefinitely, almost regardless of where you actually live. Combine that with the increasing number of folks who are forgoing landline phones in favor of mobile-only, and increasing number of locales that are requiring ten-digit dialing for local calls, and you'd think that a person's area code would connote nothing upon which to base an assumption.

In Chris' case, the background is even more convoluted. He had his (407) number for several years, during which time he had his residence in DC, his official work office in Northern California, and his actual work location in Chicago and other Midwestern cities. With that maze of geography, his mobile number was the only assured way of contacting him. Now that he's shedded himself of the California connection and the business travel, having a Florida-based number no longer makes sense--allegedly.

I'm wondering if such things will continue to be an issue. Little indications I see around here, in (727) and (813) land, tell me that it will. I see plenty of ads, business signs and everyday announcements that don't bother to include a contact phone number's area code. I get increasingly annoyed at this. The area's covered by two area codes (and even more, if you go only a few miles beyond metro), and it's flat-out dumb to assume everyone's going to know which area code to use.

Is it really that hard to memorize a phone number with an area code? When ten-digit dialing does come to the Tampa Bay area, I imagine a ton of people are going to blow a capillary trying to deal with that.