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RIP Landlines

landline telephone on an old wall

Photo by Adria Berrocal Forcada on Unsplash

The approach to pondering New Year’s Resolutions is a mere 31 days ahead.  As I debate the need to resolve useless commitments in the coming year, I decided to be decisive and commit to something I would be accountable to complete.  Time has come to join the 21st Century and cease the endless harassment of my choice of telecommunication, and just like that, my landline is history.  While this may not be such a big deal to most, I am still in mourning.

            My monthly drop-in visit to my guys at the mobile phone store has taught them as much about the elderly and I have learned about the young.  They have taught me to Google and YouTube my basic needs, but nothing is as fun as watching their face react to my inability to see those tiny apps and the various functions they control for elementary phone operation.  Our conversation last month involved the revelation that I could transfer my landline phone number to my mobile and allow my mobile number to re-enter the phone number lottery.  The reality is the number did not matter, but the idea of losing a permanent connection to the non-mobile world was disconcerting.   My mobile phone support group stood by me as I made the disconnect call with my landline carrier—2019 New Year’s Resolution was now in play.

            My landline had three purposes:  First, when I could not locate my mobile phone at home, I could always call from the landline to locate the tiny phone hiding in the sofa cushions.   Of course, when it was on silent, that was a different skill test of hide and seek.  The vibrating mode was always an interesting surprise depending on where one sat.  None-the-less, the mobile phone was never lost for long in the range of the calling landline.

The second purpose the landline fulfilled was to screen all those pesky calls from the “IRS” telling me the cops are coming for me due to non-payment of taxes; Apple calling to announce I need to cease all use of my Apple products (that I do not own); a prominent politician calling to espouse the virtues of a political party I do not support; and finally family members wanting to chat about other family members.  The landline answering machine orally screened all those calls and made it easy to retrieve, save and delete messages.  The welcoming blinking light was a comfort entering my home telling me I missed calls on my arrival.  Forget Alexa and Siri, my landline answering system did one thing and did it to perfection.

Finally, landline phones are all I have known my entire life since their permanent attachment to the kitchen wall.  Maintenance was simple:  there was none.  No worry about charging the battery; no apps to update; no ‘out of range’ message; no interference of visits with dinging, beeping or buzzing with other non-essential information.  The telephone did exactly what Alexander Graham Bell intended it to do—tell someone something in an amplified volume from a great distance.

A recent minor emergency requiring a call to the local police altered my loyalty to my landline.  In a panic to relay information, no one could locate their mobile phone, but the trusty landline phone was in easy reach.  I pushed the buttons to dial, but nothing happened.  What?!  I ran to find the other phone receivers, but no buzz was on the other end, the landline had failed me.  I had no means to dial for help in an emergency—the very reason I put all my trust in the trusty landline!  We did locate a mobile phone, plugged it in to charge as the battery was low and made the call way later than was helpful in the minor emergency. 

When the dust settled, I use my mobile phone to call my landline phone people.  After

my ‘brief’ 30-minute wait on hold, a cheery voice greeted me to resolve my issue.  I was missing my mobile phone dudes at this point.  I explained I had no phone service.  She was very helpful to explain that the phone no longer operated through the . . .  and then the gibberish got garbled in my head.  Apparently, my landline was no longer of land value but operated via a digital connection.  My digital box needed a reboot and I needed to bring my box in for an exchange.  Box?  I thought you plugged the phone line in the wall and the voila—service.  The phone ‘line’ was plugged into my cable box.  I did not have a landline like the old days.  I had a cable phone that relied on my spotty cable service.  YIKES. News to me.

            The reality my landline was not actually operated via the land made it easier to return that box to the cable company and save my $10 per month for nostalgia purposes.  I do miss the oversized handset, the answering machine and all the other accouterments of historic phone service, but like leaded gasoline, seat-beltless cars and Walter Cronkite, I will get over it and text on into the 21st Century.  RIP Landline.


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