These days, it's Google this and Google that, but a walk through the Yellow Pages can surprise you. There is so much there. Today, we never complain about information overload without having in mind the Internet or the World Wide Web. We rarely think of the Yellow Pages.
But for undifferentiated and unevaluated information in diluvian quantities, delivered all at once in hard copy, the Yellow Pages is the Internet's Mini-Me. No clicks, no flickers. Just thump. It lands on your desk, and consulting it, you might find something you didn't know you were seeking.
Everyone worries about the dangers of surfing the net. There's so much there, we hear, and so much of it is junk. What will happen to the children if they come upon a naked image, especially a naked image messing around with another naked image? What if they exchange a few electronically deconstructed, transmitted, and reconstructed flickers of light with a pervert? After all, it's the creeps and the porno people who are making money off the web. They are the true innovators, the ones with the high numbers of unique visitors. (Not so unique really, as it turns out.) No one else — certainly not all the Internet high fliers which your pension fund use to invest in — has made a dime.
Well, danger lurks in the Yellow Pages, too. The other day I was passing the time. I could have surfed the web, but I was afraid if I told Google what I was looking for, Google would know and salt it away to use against me one day. Besides, I wasn't looking for anything. Plus, with Google, there's always the danger that you will stumble upon one of those online trading sites, masquerading as a plumbing supply company. Without meaning to, you begin buying stock because the commissions are so low. But although the advertisements for online brokers never announce this (except perhaps in the fine print), after you execute one of those lightning fast trades on a stock you researched yourself, well, you have to pay for it. What a surprise. Pretty soon, you've spent the kids' allowance, and still you can't stop. You know how that story goes.
I didn't want to get anywhere near that possibility, so I turned to the Yellow Pages. What caught my eye was the display advertisement for the Swimming Pool and Spa Group of Cape Cod (SPSGCC). There was a picture with the ad. It showed what was called "The Ultimate Work Station." I thought I had the ultimate work station, otherwise known as my boat. But I didn't know what I was missing.
Right there in the Yellow Pages, right there on Cape Cod, SPSGCC was offering a work station/hot tub that combined a home theater, wet bar, computer, phone, am/fm radio, CD, DVD, and special effects. How does anyone get any work done, I wondered? And, what special effects can they be referring to? Still, I was hooked. I wanted that work station.
I looked around at my plywood desk, with the piles of paper I should be reading instead of the Yellow Pages. I looked at my radio, which only plays one channel, no matter what button you push. I considered the snarl of wires that somehow connect the phone, the laptop, the radio, and the light that doesn't work, and I thought, I deserve that work station/spa. I thought how comfy it would be, working in my bathing suit, soothing the aching muscles, watching Citizen Kane over and over, hydrating to beat the band, all day, every day. I'm going to get me one of those things, I thought, as I ripped the page from the book and pinned it to the wall.
Of course, it's not a high tech interlude I'm describing, but nevertheless, the Yellow Pages transported me just the way Google does and tempted me as I might have been tempted by a spa manufacturer in Sweden or Norway, where I suppose everybody works in bubbling hot water all winter. The difference is that I didn't know what I wanted until I found the work station/spa. How would Google know that's what I needed?