Think Twice Before Ditching The Rolodex


OK, so here’s the deal. Last week, I decided to upgrade myself, step into the 21st century, “get on board” technologically, if you will.

I decided to do this after interviewing a businessman who said, “Some of my associates still work out of a Rolodex, and that’s OK.”


It was the first time I realized that most of today’s business people work out of their computers or phones or nimbus “clouds” or whatever. Those of us still dependent upon the lowly but serviceable Rolodex are quickly going the way of the dinosaurs.

Not me! I will stay current! I will stay on top of things! I will adapt, no matter how much I worry that one bad lightning storm (or the Rapture) will render all communication and files permanently non-recoverable. (Although in the case of the Rapture, that will probably be the point.)

So I spent two solid days (and I am not kidding about this) transferring everything from my Rolodex to my flash drive so that all the information can eventually be transferred to other devices as needed.

The word count stood at 4,464; the character count at 29,096. Sounds like I have a lot of friends, right? Wrong. I have a lot of information.

For instance, under “A,” I have a number I call when I want to place an ad for my antiques shop. For years, I have placed these ads via e-mail, but I still have the publication owner’s name, his wife’s name, his office number, his cell number, his fax number and a little note telling me the cost per word and the monthly deadline just in case I need to know any of that stuff. And I often do.

Under the Ds, I list all the doctors I have used, my friends have used or I might use in the future. They are listed en masse under “Dr.” — but they are cross-referenced throughout the Rolodex as well. Any doctor I didn’t like has a black frowny face next to his name. Valuable information.

One evening, after spending more than an hour on the phone with tech support over at DirecTV, a frustrated young associate blurted out the number of someone’s private line — someone who actually understands how DirecTV works. That is the number I now call for any little problem — at least I did until I got rid of DirecTV.

I keep a lot of my passwords on my Rolodex, too, from when I first started stumbling around, making the transition from paper to airwaves. I mean, just because I ordered a giant inflatable sock monkey on a scooter six years ago doesn’t guarantee I’ll ever order anything from that company again. But if I do, it’s nice to have my account number on hand and my secret password, “spendthrift.”

Under the name of my store, Elsie Bell’s Antique Mall, I have each clerk’s alarm code, my fictitious name registration number, my federal tax ID number, my tax exempt number, the phone number used by my credit card machine and the price of sales receipt books at three different suppliers. That information is there because I like to have it at my fingertips, just in case.

But it’s been a week now, and here’s what I’ve discovered — nothing is at my fingertips. My computer is not always on. Sometimes I need the name of a doctor in a hurry.

So you know what I did? I printed everything out. The 25 sheets of paper aren’t as convenient as my Rolodex, but they will have to do.

And if the Rapture comes, I’m ready.