Phoney Baloney

I'm about ready to rip the phone out of the wall. All four of them.

You ever walk by those skeletons of days gone by---the pay phone? Or rather, where a pay phone used to be? The useless wires dangling from the back of the unit, the actual phone itself long gone?

That's what I'd like our bedrooms and kitchen and basement to look like---the remnants of where a land line phone used to be.

They say that the land line is about to go the way of the pay phone. That time can't come soon enough, frankly.

The only reason we have land line phone service, nearest I can tell, is to be harassed at all hours of the day and night. Because it certainly isn't to make phone calls, or to receive any meaningful ones.

My wife and I use our cell phones to place calls, even from the home. Same with our daughter. My wife's mother, who we live with, takes only a handful of calls a month---usually from doctor's offices, confirming appointments. And mom-in-law doesn't really place any calls, either.

Weapon of mass frustration

The other 98% of the time, the phone rings with the telecommunications version of e-mail spam.

How and when did this happen? When did the home telephone, i.e. the "land line," turn into nothing more than an annoyance whose ringing wants me to stick knitting needles into my eyes?

The average phone "conversation" in our house, when it involves an incoming call, lasts about two seconds, on average. That's because the first thing we hear is the obvious bleatings of a pre-recorded message.

That's when the receiver gets hung up, forthwith.

The home telephone used to be a lifeline of sorts. Maybe even a life blood. Remember how lost you'd feel when the phone service would go out? There was a feeling of disconnect---literally---from the outside world.

There was nothing sadder than the sound of dead silence when lifting a phone whose service was down.

Now, I would give my left ear to have the damn thing shut off for good.

The only reason we maintain land line service is that we have our Internet service through the phone company. It seems like too much work to combine our phone and satellite TV services.

So we have the desire to remove our phones but we lack the will, apparently.

The result is that we pay some $40 a month to be harassed.

Forty bucks a month to hear that we are winners of cruises we never entered the contests of; $40 to be asked several times a month of anyone in our household has diabetes; $40 to be hung up on when we answer the phone (that's the one that gets me).

We sometimes let the offending calls go to the machine, but 2/3 of the time no one leaves a message.

Can't be that important, then.

The phone used to be the center of a hotbed of activity. It's how play dates were made, how we spoke to businesses, how we got news from our family members.

It would also strike fear into the hearts, when it dared to ring at 3:00 a.m.

Nothing good happens at 3:00 a.m, except child birth, and no one calls about that until after 9:00.

So we have four of these instruments of harassment plugged into our walls: one in the basement, one in the kitchen, and two in bedrooms. We literally groan when they ring. No kidding.

Somehow, like the pay phone, the land line phone became a victim of cell phones, the Internet, and plain old apathy.

It now almost represents a simpler time of letter writing, bike riding and manual transmission.

The land line phone---a museum artifact in our very own homes!

But get it out of my house. Seriously.


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