I caught a segment of CNN this morning promising to tell me how to save money on my phone bill. As someone who likes to spend, um, save money, I listened intently. The tip: Get rid of your land line and use your cell phone only at home.
I must be AT&T's dream come true, because I am going to cling to my land line until the lines shrivel up and turn to dust under the ground. Why do I want to keep a land line? Let me count the ways:
1. Cell phones sound horrible. A typical conversation includes breaks and statics. This is a minor annoyance when you're calling home to ask if you need to pick up toothpaste while you're at Target. But I'm a writer. I'm trying to get a complete quote out of someone who's voice keeps going in and out, depending on whether he's driving under a tree.
2. Speaking of, the whole talking while driving thing drives me nuts. (No pun intended.) My husband has graciously pointed out that I'm not the greatest driver anyhow, so he suggests I stay off the cell phone while driving. Point taken. But, what happens when I'm driving and the phone rings? I look and see my kid's school on the caller ID, so I assume she's been hurt and is en route to the emergency room. I almost crash my car trying to grab the phone, only to hear a recorded message reminding me of tomorrow's PTO meeting.
3. Cell phones have cut into our right to be left alone some time. Back in the Stone Ages, people had a healthy respect for a home phone number. You rarely received a call from work after hours, unless it was an emergency. Nowadays, my husband gets phone calls at 3 a.m. from people who are having a work crisis. I say that 20 years ago, that crisis wouldn't have been a crisis because nobody had cell phones and nobody would dream of calling someone at home at 3 a.m. They just waited five hours and THE WORLD DID NOT END.
4. Sometimes I need to be unreachable. I know, I know, I have the right to not answer the cell phone when I'm out and about. But a ringing phone causes a Pavlovian response, where I panic unless I find out who's calling me and why. For instance, suppose I'm killing time at Target, which qualifies as therapy for most mothers. The phoen rings, and it's someone from "home," so I assume someone had an accident and is en route to the hospital. I answer the phone, only to find out that my daughter needs me to come home right away because she needs a ride to Shelby's house and Dad's busy mowing the yard. Even if I tell her she's going to have to wait, the conversation has added just enough guilt to my Target trip to limit its therapeutic potential.
I understand that the younger generation doesn't have such hangups, and I begrudgingly acknowledge that someday I'll be calling my adult children on their cell phones. I'll have to endure staticky conversations if I want to talk to them. I get it. But I'm not giving in, not yet. Even if I didn't have the reasons I listed above, I have one reason I will cling to for years: My 11-year-old informed me that boys don't want to call her on the landline, because they feel funny about the risk of talking to one of her parents who might answer the phone first.
Yeah, I'll be paying for that land line for a while.