February 23, 2006

The Number You Have Dialed ……….

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 8:53 pm

Telephone buttons.jpgNumbers! They’re beginning to give me a Case of the Ass.

New Jersey is 46th out of the 50 states in terms of size. Hell, it’s 166 miles long and 57 miles wide. You can drive (at 3 a.m., when most folks are sleeping) from one side of the state to the other, (north to south, or east to west) on a 24-ounce coffee. And yet, we have so many people packed into the Garden State that we have nine farookin’ area codes!

It’s nuts.

For example, my doctor (Doctor Doctor) is perhaps two miles from my home – different area code. Take a ten-minute ride on the Parkway North and you can sail through two area codes. Turn west for ten minutes – new area code. So, while a good portion of the country only has to deal with seven digit phone numbers, invariably we have to remember 10 numbers. And, to make matters even more confusing, the area code assignments are only roughly geographical. As such, we often wind up making our best guess of the area code, which is all-too-often incorrect. ”The number you have dialed … .”

The states with the most area codes are California and Texas, with 25 and 24 area codes, respectively. Now, that’s a helluva lot of area codes, but those are some seriously BIG states, each of which contains lots of cities with lots of people. New Jersey, by comparison, has the same number of area codes as does Massachusetts and Illinois.

The people who live in the following fourteen states only have to deal with one statewide area code:

New Hampshire
New Mexico
North Dakota
Rhode Island
South Dakota
West Virginia and

I guess there are just not that many people to talk to in those parts.

I remember when New Jersey had NO area codes. Quite simply, there were enough seven-digit phone numbers to go around. That was when not everyone had a phone, and many of those who did shared a party line. Individual businesses didn’t have multiple phone numbers, and fax machines and cell phones hadn’t yet been invented.

Now, damned near everyone has a home number, a main work number, a direct work number, a fax and a cell phone number. Throw different area codes into the mix and it’s enough to make a guy’s hair hurt.

Obviously, staying in touch comes with a price.


  1. Yeah- I still call myself a Jersey girl-born there in ’74 in good ol JSMC- grew up in Squan-moved to Maine in August 2002. (my parents still live on the shore)Went from dialing 10 digits to call next door the last few years to dialing seven digits to call the other, far away, end of the state. It still feels strange.

    Comment by Karen — February 23, 2006 @ 9:23 pm

  2. I guess there are just not that many people to talk to in those parts.

    You don’t know the half of it, brother.

    Comment by Craig — February 23, 2006 @ 9:33 pm

  3. If you have enough hair to hurt, that’s probably a good thing, area codes be damned.

    Comment by Elisson — February 24, 2006 @ 6:06 am

  4. I remember when you had to dial the operator and tell her (no men at that job back in those days) what number you wanted. That was the time when there were still area names in the phone number. Whenever I called my relatives in Red Bank, I had to ask the operator to connect me to “Shadyside 7…”, then the number.
    You know, that sound like it could have been the name of a TV detective show in the late fifties or early sixties, like “Surfside 6”. Anyone remember that one?

    Comment by gregor — February 24, 2006 @ 7:26 am

  5. Yep. I was born in ’47 (that’s 1947, NOT 1847, smartasses!),and in the Perth Amboy area we had VAlley 6 and HIllcrest 2. My parents first acquired phone service in 1952 and we were on a FOUR party line! Now THAT was fun! I could pick up the phone, as a little kid, and listen to all the gossip. Hehehe. LOL! Ahhh, the good old days.

    Comment by Jerry K — February 24, 2006 @ 9:50 am

  6. I had a party line once. Smartass kids from God knows where coming on the line all the time in the middle of your conversation. “Shut up, you kids!” “No YOU shut up!” “I’m gonna tell your parents and the Feds’ll send you to prison!” “Go ahead, at least they’ll have decent phone service there.”

    Comment by dogette — February 24, 2006 @ 11:07 am

  7. I think Georgia has only three, by the time, all the yankees move down here, we will be up to 40, I bet?

    Comment by Catfish — February 24, 2006 @ 12:19 pm

  8. Jim,
    That is a lot of area codes. It doesn’t seem to track on population either.
    NYC – about 8 million people – 5 area codes
    NJ – about 8 million people – 9 area codes
    MT+WY+CO+NM (That’s border to border by the way)- about 8 million people – 7 area codes

    Comment by Mark Reardon — February 24, 2006 @ 12:48 pm

  9. Cat,
    Georgia has 8.
    229, 404, 470, 478, 678,706, 770 and 912. It is the largest state east of the Mississippi and it doesn’t have as many area codes as Jersey.

    Comment by Jim - Parkway Rest Stop — February 24, 2006 @ 1:29 pm

  10. Heh – the 847 area code in the Northwest Chicago burbs was the first place in the country where you HAD TO dial the area code – even within the 847 area code. (guess where I lived… *sigh*). I think they were also first with an area code “overlay” – 2 area codes for the same area. So, your neighbor across the street might end up with a different area code than you.

    Mostly it depends on the number of people around who have cell phones, pagers, faxes…. yada yada yada. Then there is the phone company’s penchant for giving out HUGE blocks of phone numbers to companies – thus taking up lots of numbers that are never used, thus the need for more area codes.

    And I remember going to my grandma’s house and dialing 5 numbers to get my aunt down the street… those were the days.

    Comment by Teresa — February 24, 2006 @ 2:18 pm

  11. Jimbo, if you’re ever tryin’ to dial Ohio, I’m in the 614 bro… Home/Cell, or if you’re ever in hollerin’ distance. They screwed all my childhood memories of phone number up when they when to multiple area codes in Norf’ Calina. 909, 919, 252. Hell, I don’t know what number I’m callin’ anymore. It usually takes me three tries to get ‘hold of who I’m tryin’ to talk to.

    Comment by RedNeck — February 24, 2006 @ 7:39 pm

  12. Oops, meant to say, 910, 919, 252… my bad.

    Comment by RedNeck — February 24, 2006 @ 7:39 pm

  13. I don’t even have to leave my town (Northern NJ) to change area codes. The last time I checked, we had 2 area codes. I suspect the second one is cell phone only.

    Comment by Sparky — February 24, 2006 @ 8:07 pm

  14. Cell phone assignments are even crazier. I live in 973 but when I got a cell phone no numbers were available. Instead, I got a 201 area code. My son, got the 973 designation when he got his cell phone–he is now a student in Idaho and still has that 973 area code.

    It’s just a tiny bit nutty, but then we can’t just erase existing numbers and start all over again. It was trouble enough when a large part of 201 became 973. All those businesses that had to change their contact numbers…very expensive.

    Comment by joated — February 24, 2006 @ 8:36 pm

  15. I guess you might say I can:
    1-dial a different area code from my home phone and answer my cell on the kitchen table
    2-dial the same area code and talk to my son 2500 miles away at school

    Comment by joated — February 24, 2006 @ 8:40 pm

  16. Shortly after we left Kansas, it got its second area code. That is why we moved to NH, ’cause my memory sucks LOL!

    Comment by bogie — February 25, 2006 @ 6:19 am

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