Hot Pants, Landlines & the Way it Was

My generation didn’t have Uber, Snap Chat, Twitter or Facebook. We didn’t text our friends. We’d pick up the phone, call them and talk. For hours at a time. Continue reading

Dear Landline, Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Oh landline of mine, I owe you a big apology. I thought I could save some money by cutting you out of my life.  I contemplated this for weeks, and then I made the phone call to AT&T.  This was it. “Cancel my service,” I said, without skipping a beat. I’m over the home phone. I don’t need it. I’ve got my cell phone, after all.

Oh, Rotary Phone! Now this was when a phone was a phone and nothing else. No texting, no checking email. Just talking on the phone. Alas, a relic from another day.

I figured I’d get some push back from AT&T, but all I got from the other end of the line was, “Do you want it shut off today or later this week?”

“Today!” was my eager reply. Absolutely.  Can’t wait! And then I hung up, satisfied that I’d just saved myself some 40 bucks per month.  Which is when panic set in.

Oh, landline, how could I be so foolish, so cavalier about something that’s been a part of me all of my life?  Without you, how will the telemarketers get a hold of me?  How will the credit companies call me incessantly to offer me protection against identity theft?  And how will I know when my air conditioner is in need of a check-up?

Worse, what if there’s an earthquake or some other calamity?  How will the folks at  reverse 9-1-1 know how to call and warn me to evacuate? OK, you get the picture. Nobody calls me at home anymore except sales people, repairmen, and on occasion my brother from Boca. But still, what makes me think I can live without you, my little lifeline?

As kids, we dreamed of having a video phone, much like the one the Jetson's had. Pre-Skype. Pre-iPhone 4.

Call it a lapse in judgment. Call me crazy or simply sentimental. Call me old school. Whatever the reason, my phone, my landline, I can no sooner part with you than I can sever my pinkie—no matter how useless it is.  And though I may be young at heart, the comforts of my age will prevail, which is why, landline, you are here to stay.

Of course, thinking of you reminds me of past phones I’ve had in my home. Like my first one in Queens, which was a black rotary phone, the kind you use your index finder to rotate the dial clockwise, then releasing when you hit the finger stop.  Not as complicated as it sounds, it is now a relic from another day, as I’m sure that not many people today have ever used such a phone.

In my day, we didn’t own the phone, we rented it from Ma Bell and our phone numbers included letters. I still remember my first phone number, AX7-2822. Then came the princess phone in pastel pink or powder blue. I would’ve killed for one of those.  Throughout the years, there have been other developments in the home phone biz, including push button phones (goodbye, rotary!) and cordless. We’re a mobile society after all, and no stinkin’ cord was going to tie us down!

We dreamed of video phones as seen in The Jetsons, but that never really materialized—except on Skype. We fantasized about having a shoe phone like the one Agent 86 had in Get Smart, but, at the time, a portable phone that wasn’t a landline seemed outrageously beyond the realm of belief.

The first mobile phone was probably this one, owned by Agent 86, Maxwell Smart on the classic TV show, "Get Smart."

And now, my precious landline, you have become just another casualty of the past, thanks to Generation X, Y and whatever. They don’t have the history or the bonds that we boomers have with our home phones. They don’t own one and they don’t see why we still hold on to ours.  Not even my son can figure out why I care so much about you, given that I have a cell phone.

But cell phones are fickle and disconnect calls in a flash.  Whereas you, my landline, are old reliable.  Which is why I’m holding on to my 40-bucks-a-month habit.  To paraphrase the late, gun-toting advocate, Charlton Heston,

If they want my landline, they’ll have to pry it from my cold, dead hands.

So, landline, can you ever forgive me? Surely, I’m not the only one who’s tried this and failed?