Theoden Janes

That big book in your driveway? It’s bugging me.

The last time I used a Yellow Pages, it was because we had a bit of a cockroach problem.

Most of them were pretty small and pretty easy to take care of, but when the queen showed up, I knew this was too tough a job for me alone. So I reached for the big fat yellow book and it provided me with a swift and decisive solution.

Of course, then I had to throw away the book because it had a big bug stuck to it, but... wait, you thought I was actually going to use it to look up an exterminator?

No, no – for that I just searched Google. Or Yahoo, or Ask Jeeves (#throwback!), or whatever site we were using to find answers a decade ago.

We have long since opted out out of Yellow Pages delivery, but I know this was the week they were delivered to homes in Charlotte because I’ve seen them rotting on driveways in multiple neighborhoods.

They’re rotting because they weren’t stuffed into plastic bags this year, and because it’s been rainy and humid this week, and because – well, frankly, there are a lot of lazy people out there.

So the books sit there on lazy people’s driveways with other pieces of driveway spam, while those of us who have the decency to keep our properties presentable (or the good sense to opt out of delivery) shake our heads and curse our lazy neighbors and fume at Yellow Pages for putting them there in the first place.

I mean, let’s get real here. The Yellow Pages are about as useful as the nutrition facts on bottled water. I’m as likely to open the Yellow Pages as I am to open the email I just got that has “WOW! $15/Month Term Life Ins. No Exam” in the subject line. The last person I saw use them to look up a phone number was my grandmother – and she’s been dead for almost 11 years.

If my computer was on the fritz, I wouldn’t need the Yellow Pages to look up a computer repair company, because I could just use my cellphone. If both my computer and my cellphone were broken, I’d use my tablet. And if my computer, my cellphone and my tablet were all out of order... I’d need an inhaler and some Prozac, not a Yellow Pages.

Now, I realize there are some people out there who could argue that newspapers are similarly obsolete.

But whereas traditional newspaper readers might say something along the lines of “I like the feel of a newspaper in my hands” with what feels like real sincerity, you never hear anyone say: “I like the feel of sifting through the Yellow Pages while trying to figure out which companies are reliable and which aren’t based solely on intuition, blind faith and who bought the biggest, nice-looking ad.”

Or: “I like the feel of looking around the house going, ‘Where the %#@& did I put that stupid book?,’ and then, after finally tracking it down, finding in 5 minutes a phone number that a web search can find in 0.5 seconds.”

Astoundingly, I learned this week that the Yellow Pages is also now available by special request on CD-ROM – just let that sink in for a minute and you’ll realize it’s as forehead-smack-worthy an idea as, say, Amazon putting out a Christmas catalog on a floppy disk.

No, if you simply must have your directory, it’s only worth owning in the form of a big, heavy, yellow book, just in case you turn on the lights one night to find a cockroach staring up at you.

Janes: 704-358-5897;

Twitter: @theodenjanes