How can I consider giving up something that has had romantic connections for almost 40 years?
And yet, why keep a device that brings me disappointment every single day?
My home telephone used to be the source of my favorite phone calls: a long chat with a girlfriend, a catch-up call with my son or daughter, and evening discussions with my husband who works out of town.
The phone still rings several times a day, but the magic is gone. If I had a mirror next to my phone, I would regularly see myself go from cheerful anticipation to disgusted resignation. Caller ID tells me that I’m being contacted by “800 Service,” “Unknown” or “Out of Area.”
I don’t pick up. The next day, they all try again.
Meanwhile, friends and family are calling more often on my cell phone or sending emails or texts.
“That’s why we gave up our land line,” says one friend. “It got so most of our calls were sales, politics or charity appeals.”
Should I do the same? I like being on top of technotrends. Is it time to let go of the land line?
Two close friends did it this summer. One had her home phone number for 24 years, the other for 40.
When one woman told her daughter she’d canceled the phone, the young woman wailed, “It’s the only number I’ve got memorized.”
I almost wailed, too. I had both friends’ numbers memorized, along with those of a dozen other important people. I don’t learn new numbers as easily as I used to, but those old land-line numbers, like the heavy black phones they used to ring, stick with me.
How many cell phone numbers do I know by heart?
Meanwhile, as more and more people call me on my smart phone, instead of my land line, I have to keep the darn thing near me, even in my house. All day, I pick it up and move it. At meals, it sits across the table. When I practice my music, it interrupts. In the evening, it watches TV with me. Sometimes it comes to bed.
Since it blinks when I receive email, I end up inspecting the darn thing every few minutes for a message. Then I hit myself in the head when I realize how attached I am to technology.
Two phone numbers are too many. Should I let the land line go?
But how can I give up a device that sparks so many romantic memories? The phone number belonged to my husband when we first met. I could tell we were getting serious when I began to call it, instead of waiting for him to call me.
When we married, I was happy to keep his number. It’s a good, solid number from the era when everyone in Davis had either 756 or 758, except university people who got 752 and businesses, which tended toward 753.
As the years passed, alien numbers began appearing, combinations like 297 and 795. Cell phone use introduced an even broader palette.
Through it all, my husband and I kept our old number and 20 years after we married, romance carried into the next generation. Our daughter met her first boyfriend at Davis High. To our amazement, he had a home phone number that contained only one digit that was different from ours.
Can destiny come any closer to revealing itself?
She married that boyfriend, and now I share grandchildren with a Davis couple whose number is almost the same as mine.
“Keep the number,” I say to myself.
I like new things as much as the next person, but sometimes it’s the old worn out pair of shoes that feels just right.
I’m not nostalgic for the big black phone of yesteryear, but my 2000’s era land line, a base unit and three handsets, is mighty convenient. I can pick it up anywhere in the house or let it take messages.
The handset feels good in my hand, lighter than my cell phone, and big enough to hold comfortably for long stretches of time. I can put my ear where the sound comes out and my mouth where the sound goes in, instead of feeling as if my ear and mouth are too far apart, as I do with my cell phone.
Volume is good. Dropped calls are few.
Giving up the land line would modernize me and save money, but should those be the only factors in my decision?
Friends may not regard my phone number as tenderly as I do, but they remember it. And even if I’m disgruntled about some of the calls I receive, I like my phone.
For now, I’ll keep it.
— Marion Franck lives in Davis with her family. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org