Saw this reading the entry for rotary dial phones to see if one should expect one would still work today...

Rotary dial - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

To dial a number, the user puts a finger in the corresponding finger hole and rotates the dial clockwise until it reaches the finger stop. The user then pulls out the finger, and a spring in the dial returns it to the resting position. For example, if the user dials '6' on a North American telephone, as the dial returns, electrical contacts wired through the mechanism underneath will open and close six times, thus sending six pulses to the central office.

I think the disconnect for me is that dialing a rotary phone wasn't something you were taught via words. You simply "dialed", mocking everyone else you'd ever seen make a call. And you sure as heck never had a need to see it in print, digital or otherwise.

Boy, I feel old now seeing how to dial in words.

Edit: I've now quizzed a kindergartener, and feel slightly less old, or at least not as left behind. Apparently dialing is still a commonly understood practice solely because nobody's thought to let kids' toy manufacturers know that their rotary toys are passe. Most humourous was this kid's response -- "Yeah, I know what dialing is, but it takes too long!" That impression was formed having never dialed to place a call other than imaginary ones, but having "dialed" via buttons any number of times. (Not that the impression isn't accurate; the accuracy makes the anachronism that much more remarkable. And remember friends' with 9's in their number? Sheesh. What were they thinking? Or folks in the 919 area code? ARGH!)