I don’t own a cell phone. I still have a landline.
I wouldn’t know how to work a modern cell phone if it were a matter of life or death. People have tried to hand me their cell phones before to make a call or look something up on Google, but I just stare at it as if it were alien technology. To me it’s definitely futuristic technology – at least 20 years ahead of my understanding of technology.
I have operated three cell phones in my life. The first one was so large it was housed in its own suitcase. The second one predated texting technology by a year or two. The third came with the ability to make a call, text or play Sudoku – the latter option being its most attractive feature. The latter two phones were temporary pay-as-you-go track phones which were purchased for out-of-state moves. It will be a huge learning adventure if I’m ever able to afford a modern cell phone. But this story isn’t about my lack of mobile communication. It’s about my landline.
Two years ago I bought a new home phone because the three people I talk to on a semi-regular basis (my brother and two best friends), all complained that they couldn’t hear me when we talked on the phone. I just assumed after the first few complaints that the problem was with their cell phones because cells often fade in and out, echo one’s voice, etc. There seem to be many occasional sound problems associated with cell phones that one rarely has to endure with home phones these days. However, after several months of complaints that the other party couldn’t hear me, I started entertaining the thought that my phone might possibly be the problem. The phone I had been using was manufactured in 1981, so it was possible that it might need to be replaced.
So I bought a new phone. It cost $10 or $15. I was looking for a very basic, no-frills, corded phone because that’s what I’m used to. The most basic corded phone available came with caller I.D. – a luxury I had never had before.
I brought the phone home, plugged it in the phone jack and was amazed when I got my first call and only had to look at the handset to see who was calling. I had finally reached 1990s technology!
I used the phone for a year or more without issue, but last September my Caller I.D. stopped working. I was a bit upset but I dismissed the malfunction as proof that “things aren’t built to last like they used to be”.
Early last week I was talking with my brother. He had a lot to tell me due to recent unpleasant events in his life, so he was doing most of the talking and I was trying to concentrate in order to hear his story. (I get distracted easily.) I was fidgeting with the phone cradle as I listened to Scott and during my fidgeting I found a tiny little clip on top of the phone cradle. I had never noticed the clip before. I picked at it and a big piece of plastic flew up in the air. I thought I had broken it!
Upon inspection I discovered it was a battery cover!
I missed a minute or two of Scott’s story as my internal monologue kicked in, robbing Scott of my attention.
“Why are there batteries in my phone? It’s a friggin’ landline! It’s not even a portable! I’m tethered to this thing like a dog on a leash whenever a take a phone call. This doesn’t even make sense! I’ve never heard of a corded phone requiring batteries. The phone company provides the needed electricity to operate a landline which is why one’s phone will still work during a power outage. I wonder why…”
Then I had a stroke of genius!
“I wonder if the Caller I.D. requires batteries. I never had Caller I.D. before buying this phone. That’s the only thing that’s different between this phone and other tethered phones I’ve owned.”
As soon as my conversation with Scott came to an end, I went to the drawer that houses twist ties, random pieces of string and wire, screws, washers I’ll never use, rocks I’ve brought home after falling in love with them and batteries! I found three Double-A batteries, exchanged them with the ones that came with my phone, and called up Cindy and asked her to call me back.
She called me back and voilà! My Caller I.D. performed its job perfectly, after six months off the job!
I love being able to know who’s calling before I answer the phone. After 48 years of life I had only lived with this luxury for one year, but I had grown accustomed to it and missed it after it went on strike.
But I finally fixed it because I am an idiotic genius!