In the words of Neil Sedaka — “Breaking up is hard to do,” but it’s time.
The new year is barely a month old, and I’m about to make one of the most monumental decisions of my life. I’m finally going to cancel my one remaining landline. There, I said it. I can barely wrap my brain or phone cord around the thought of it, but the time has come.
In the words of Neil Sedaka — “Breaking up is hard to do,” but it’s time. The only folks I hear from now on our landline are those wonderful, endearing folks who call during dinner to remind me that I’m in need of an extended car warranty or new windows.
Perhaps, before I pull the plug, I’ll finally implement the strategy Jerry instituted on Seinfeld, Season 4, Episode 3, when he was on the receiving end of a telemarketer trying to sell him a new long distance service. Long distance service? Does that sound ancient or what? Well, that episode did originally air 30 years ago.
Anyway, Jerry answers his phone, and the following dialogue ensues:
Telemarketer: “Hi, would you be interested in switching over to TMI long distance service?”
Jerry: “Oh gee, I can’t talk right now. Why don’t you give me your home number and I’ll call you later.”
Telemarketer: “Uh, I’m sorry, we’re not allowed to do that.”
Jerry: “Oh, I guess you don’t want people calling you at home?”
Jerry: “Well, now you know how I feel.” (Click.)
One of my fondest memories of a landline occurred in October of 1964. I was 9 years old, and my parents went to check on the new home we were just days away from moving into. By this time, all of the new phones had been installed and they were (drum roll) … push-button phones! It was like something right out of the Jetsons space-age animated series that debuted on television in 1962.
I immediately picked up the phone and dialed, excuse me, pushed the buttons that corresponded to my soon-to-be old house phone number … UN-31603. To my utter amazement, there was a different tone for each letter and number. I could barely contain my excitement over this discovery.
My older brother answered, and I said, “You … are … not … going… to … believe this! I’m calling from a phone that has buttons instead of a dial!” I don’t recall his exact reaction, but it felt something like: “Get out of town, you nutty kid you!”
Until several years ago, we had three land lines. One for our home, one for my home office and one dedicated to a fax machine. Fax machine? Does that sound ancient or what?
By the way, my first fax machine cost, gulp, $1,500, but it changed the way I communicated and conducted business. Although I did hold onto my carrier pigeons for a while as a backup.
Over time, we slowly weaned ourselves off two of the three lines as we became acclimated and more trusting of our cell phones and the use of email as a way to disseminate information.
I have to admit, I sometimes long for the slower pace of the dial phone that made you wait until each and every number had completed its circular rotation before moving on to the next number. There was a certain excitement that built up waiting for the impending pick up on the other end of the line. Unless, of course, your exhilaration was temporarily stunted by a busy signal. At the time, the only form of automatic redial was your index finger.
Hey, record players are once again in vogue, perhaps the rotary phone will make a comeback.
I also long for the days when there was no call waiting. Yes, nothing tells the person on the other end of a call that your current phone conversation pales in comparison with the one coming in.
Today, of course, you really don’t even need a phone to have a phone call. You know the old slang expression “talk to the hand?” Well, now you can. Smart watches allow conversations to be carried on through our wrist watches.
Because of Bluetooth technology and ear buds, we’ve turned into a society of people walking around looking like they’re talking to themselves. For me, nothing enhances a meal in a restaurant more than a person sitting alone in the booth next to me talking in a loud voice to an invisible person.
Finally, in other phone news … It was just announced that the 313 area code is projected to run out of unassigned telephone numbers some time in 2025. If approved, area code 679 will then be assigned to new customers only in the same territory.
Remember years ago, when we 313-ers had to switch to 248? Or did we switch to 810 and then 248? Whatever, I recall it being a big deal and boon for business card printers. Not today. All our numbers are stored on our phones. I couldn’t recite a phone number today from memory if my life depended on it.
Giving up landlines, fax machines, talking to our wrist watches, running out of area codes. Boy oh boy, all I can say is the methods of communicating sure have changed since George Santos invented the telephone.
Alan Muskovitz is a writer, voice-over/acting talent, speaker, and emcee.
Visit his website at laughwithbigal.com,”Like” Al on Facebook and reach him at email@example.com.