Sayonara, Landline

I had been contemplating canceling my landline phone service for about a year. In general, I dislike phone calls. If I need to talk to you, I tend to do it in person, via email, or with iChat or Skype. The phone seems like a communication relic.

New Year’s day, I picked up my landline to make a call, but the line was dead. I grabbed my cell phone and called the telephone company, and they told me that they’d be happy to instruct me how to fix the problem. I’d just need to go outside, locate the phone box, open the phone box, unplug one line and plug it into another line, and then check to see if I had a phone signal. I’m paying a fee for phone service, and I’m expected to troubleshoot and repair any issues that arise. This is a new tactic that has quietly crept into daily life. I think it correlates to many customer service outfits being outsourced. A guy in India cannot check my phone line to see what the problem is, but he can walk me through the process. Ugg. I told the provider that rather than fix the problem, I preferred to cancel the service. They never expect this response.

Some of my friends are concerned about me having a cell phone as my sole telephone. What if something happens? What if there’s an emergency? What if I lose the cell phone charger? What if…?

My friends’ concern mirrored my own when my parents announced they were canceling their landline and going cellular. Early in my parents’ cell phone existence, I received a call from a woman who attends the same church as my parents. She was clearly distressed. I asked Maria what was wrong and she replied that my parents did not show up to church, and they had not returned her phone calls. This is very uncharacteristic of my parents, Maria said. She asked if I’d be willing to drive to my folks’ home and check on them. She feared the worst. And hearing the fear in Maria’s voice put a lump in my throat.

After ending the call with Maria, I phoned my parents, and there was no answer. I remember my heart beating fast, and I repeatedly told myself everything would be okay. I just needed to get in my car and calmly make the hour-long drive to my parents’ home.

During the drive, I had plenty of time to think. And my mind went to the worst possible places: What if my parents had been robbed and killed? What if my dad fell off the roof? What if my mom tripped on the stairs and cut her head?

When I turned my car into my parents’ driveway, I was shocked at what I saw. They were outside, sitting on the porch, drinking icy beverages. They looked as happy as clams. “What a nice surprise! Would you like something to drink, honey,” my mom asked. Mom and dad said they decided to skip church and stay home and relax. They had turned off their cell phones in order to sleep late and simply forgot to turn them back on.

After the cell phones were turned on, we sat outside and enjoyed the sunset.

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