Tuesday, June 1, 2010

It's fun playing doctor, but I must cut the cord

So I think we’re going to do it.

No, not do it – get your minds out of the gutter. I think we’re finally going to cut the cord and get rid of our telephone landline.

We’ve contemplated it for years, but finally sat down the other day and determined how often we use the landline. On average, about 50% of the calls we get are not for us.

Pythagoras and I do not share a last name, as I kindly allowed him to keep his when we wed. He does, however, share a last name with a local physician. That means we’ve spent the last 12 years serving as the good doctor’s second line.

The first time it happened, I was confused.

“Yes, I’d like to schedule an appointment,” a caller informed me one afternoon.

“To do what?”

She snorted with annoyance. “For an exam, of course.”

I surveyed the assembly of pets in my living room, trying to remember who was due for shots and when our vet started making reminder calls. “I guess we could do it later today. Is this for rabies?”

“What? Why? Is there a local outbreak?”

Eventually, we got it straightened out, but the calls didn’t stop there. At least once a week, my eardrums are subjected to the screech of someone’s fax machine. Occasionally, this is followed up by the screech of a pharmacy employee calling to demand we turn on our fax machine.

“I think you have the wrong number,” I told the last caller.

“Well give me the right one, dammit!”

I hesitated for a moment, then rattled off the number I saw on my phone’s caller ID.

“Wait – that’s our number,” she snapped.

“It is,” I agreed. “Enjoy having the fax machine redial you every 30 seconds.”

Pythagoras is kinder about it than I am, often listening sympathetically to a caller’s symptoms while he looks up the correct number.

“That sounds really painful,” I overheard him saying as he thumbed through the Yellow Pages. “So wearing the helmet to bed hasn’t helped?”

As much as we’ve enjoyed receiving these calls for the last 12 years, it’s time to move on. We’ve got our cell phones, and it’s unlikely the world will end if we cease accepting calls for the good doctor.

How about you? Do you still have a landline? Can you think of any compelling reason we should continue to pay $40 a month to have ours? Tell me in the comments trail, I’m all ears.

Well, as soon as they stop ringing from that last fax call.


grace said...

What is a "land line?" Is that where the phone is attached to the wall? That sounds inconvenient.

/snarky young whippersnapper :P

Natalie Murphy said...

We had the same issue, except our number was close to the number for the high school. Oh, the excuses we used to hear, LOL.

Anyway, I say cut the cord and stick with your cell phones. That's what my family did and we haven't regretted it in the last 3 years.

Linda G. said...

Yeah, we still have our land line. Around here, cell coverage can be spotty during high telephone traffic times, like if there's some sort of public emergency. So I guess I'm just a little too much of a Nervous Nelly to risk it.

And may I just add, Pythagoras seems like a Very Nice Guy. :)

Cynthia Reese said...

I keep our landline, mainly because in our area, 911 hasn't caught up completely with cell phones.

But lots of folks are dispensing with them -- it's one of the most worrisome things for pollsters and survey-takers, especially in the political realm, because the surveys are skewed by the fact that many younger folks don't have landlines.

Deborah Small said...

We're keeping our land line. I am not paying for a half-dozen cell phones - and then having mine be the primary for all doctor/school/generic family calls. My cell is strictly an emergency/convenience tool. Cell-phone long-distance charges would bankrupt us, and in our area, any number outside a fifteen km radius is long distance.

Maybe one day, when wireless providers offer better service and financial packages. But until then, ye olde cordless reigns!


Elizabeth Flora Ross said...

I gave up a land line when I moved in w/my hubby. I was really uneasy about it. But the truth is, I have never missed it. My cell phone is my only phone. The people who have that number are the ones who need it (and I have chosen to give it to). So yes, no more annoying calls. Cell reception is good @ our house. At this point, I would be hard pressed to come up with a compelling reason to keep a land line. Go for it!

Patrick Alan said...

I am very busy today. Please just chuckle at the funny thing you imagine I normally would say here.

abby mumford said...

I haven't had a land line for approximately 7 years. And it started because I was moving around and was tired of setting up a new land line number each time. I have great cell reception, so I haven't missed it one bit.

Claire Dawn said...

I have a landline with not one but two phone numbers. It seems that where I live in Japan, I have to have the landline for my internet, but the internet comes with its own phone number. (You have to have a line to get a line... And people think Japan makes sense!)

Since all the foreigners (English speakers) have my keitai (cell) number, the only calls I get on my landline are wrong numbers in Japanese. I wish I could get rid of it :(

Anonymous said...

We still have a landline that only gets calls from my stubborn uncles and local politicians. Oh yes, there's nothing quite like listening to the news and complaining about our politicians and then getting a call that says, "Hi, this is Senator David Vitter..."

I'd love to throw out the landline, but most of my relatives are old and can't remember that there's this marvelous thing called a C.E.L.L. phone and that they can call it at any time they like. Either that, or they're too lazy to memorize the number.


Grace, pull up a chair, youngin', and I'll tell you about when dinosaurs roamed the earth.

Natalie, I can only imagine the great excuses you must've heard. Sounds like something fun to use in a book!

Linda G, that's kinda been our hesitation -- emergencies, and the fact that I like having a clear phone line on which to talk to wonderagent Michelle. But even those reasons don't seem compelling enough to keep paying $40 a month to talk to telemarketers and wrong numbers.

Cynthia, good point about the pollsters. I remember that being an issue in several of the last big campaigns.

Elizabeth, I just made the call and we're scheduled for disconnect tomorrow. Felt a little panicky, and strangely sentimental about giving up the phone number :)

Patrick, OMG, that is hysterical! Funniest thing I've read all week!

mumfusa, 7 years? Wow, you're really ahead of the curve. Sounds like it's worked out well for you, so that's good to hear.

Claire Dawn, that's crazy! I might have to start prank calling your internet line, just for fun.

danicaavet, I figure we'll have to do some work to notify relatives about the number change, but hopefully that won't be too big a hassle.

Thanks for reading, guys!

Lisa Miles said...

Great post! We haven't had a landline for a few years and we don't miss it. It can be inconvenient though if you forget to charge your cell, or lose the charger.

Delia said...

I still have my landline because the only way I have reception at my house is if I go to the upstairs balcony and lean over the rail at the northwest corner on a sunny day (don't ask). Or, I can conveniently walk approxiamately 700 feet up the street. And I do mean up. It's a tad hilly here.

Also, I have to have it to get DSL instead of dial-up -- no cable or fios available here. I'd move to a more populated area, but there are so darned many *people* there.

So, anyway, yeah. The cell is an emergency roadside/what-was-on-the-grocery-list-again,-I-forgot? type of tool. The landline stays.

Neurotic Workaholic said...

I've been meaning to cancel my landline for months, but I'm kind of afraid that the day I do that my cell phone will break down and I'll have no way of calling anyone. But that's okay, because I don't like to talk on the phone and I hate texting even more. I'd rather just e-mail or leave comments on people's blogs. :)

Penelope said...

I keep my land line for just one reason and it would not be useful to you! I keep it so if I fall down the stairs, my five-year-old can call 911 without having to search for my cell phone. Such is the life of a single mama! Haha :)

Candyland said...

Uh no land line for me. I've only used my cell the last 6 years and love it.

Elizabeth Ryann said...

The biggest irritation for me is that I have internet service with AT&T, but no land line, and my cell service is with someone else, and AT&T makes you jump through the most bizarre hoops to pay your bill every single freaking month if you don't have a phone with them. It takes me two hours, EVERY MONTH, to pay that stupid bill.

BUT I don't get the angry phone calls at all hours anymore for the girl, who must be crazy hot, who used to give out my land line number at bars. I used to get about 23 calls for her a day, and they'd leave angry/besotted messages on my machine. She was my nemesis. I mean, is it too much to ask that you switch up your fake # at bars so one person doesn't have to deal with your aftermath? Or maybe she did, and she just enticed hundreds of guys each night...I don't know, but I still resent her deeply to this day. And I haven't had a land line in 4 years. And I threw out my answering machine rather than manually delete the 237 messages that I received for her one long weekend.

Anonymous said...

I killed my landline years ago...and it is a beautiful thing. :) My neighbors landline got put down as being the number for a local delegate who is running for congress...they get some rather interesting calls now. I'll stick with my flip phone.


Cherie Reich said...

Oh, that's horrible that they were calling you instead of the real doctor! I would hate getting such calls. At work, I sometimes get calls from the person who used to work here, and I tell them that she no longer works here and hasn't for over a year, and they are always so shocked! *rolls eyes*

We have to keep our land line for now because I live in the middle of nowhere. Okay, maybe it isn't the middle of nowhere, but cell phones don't work well at our house. So, until someone builds a cell tower outside our house, it's the land line for us.

Lindsay said...

We dropped our landline down to an "emergency line." It's $6 per month (plus taxes) with all incoming free and all outgoing (even local) at .03 per minute. We never make outgoing calls on it but like to have it as an answering service for Geof's business since his cell is paid for by work.

Jason said...

We dropped our landline about a year ago after figuring out we were paying $30/month and not using it at all. Literally, zero. Even after figuring that out I held out another a couple months, just not sure. Then we cut it off and never have missed it. Now I wonder why anyone has one still. :)

You know, it's funny you mention the last names. My wife and I are the same way and it always throws people off, even though they see the wedding rings. Is there a story behind that decision to entertain us with? :)

Jamie D. said...

We don't have/want cell phones.

*waits for murmurs of shock and horror to dissipate*

I could rant forever about why we don't have or want cell phones, but that's not what you asked, so I'll spare you. We'll keep the landline. The main reason being, even if we did have cell phones, they're powered via electricity. Battery runs down and power is out...a landline will still work without power or batteries (as long as you have a corded phone, which I keep around in a drawer for just that reason).

We have caller ID, and simply don't answer any 1-800 calls or calls from unknown/unrecognized numbers...the answering machine gets all that. No real inconvenience on our part.

Dawn Ius said...

LOL, ok, I can see cutting the cord in this instance. My husband and I would be happy to rely on our cell phones, but his daughter is living with us this year and the rest of her family (including her mom) lives a province away. No matter how great the cell phone plan, it does not compare to the long distance plan available for land phones. So, while she is with us, we're stuck listening to it ring and ring...and never be for us :-)

Robin said...

We still have a landline, but have considered dropping it. My brother and sister-in-law dropped their landline years ago and haven't missed it at all. They just use their cell phones and love it. If we were getting phone calls for the local MD like you are, it wouldn't even be a question: drop the landline.

Jean Bauhaus said...

My husband and I didn't bother to have the land line turned on when we moved into our current house almost two years ago, and it hasn't been a problem. The only drawback is that the majority of my calls are with long-distance clients and the reception on my cell isn't always that great during conference calls. But we refuse to pay an extra monthly bill for a line that we'd never use otherwise.

middle child said...

I'd rather get rid of my cell phone. At least I can count on my "real" phone.

Jan Markley said...

I still have a land line so my cell phone company can call me to sell me more features!

Liz Czukas said...

Haven't had one in 8 years and I love it. The sound of a phone ringing in other people's houses makes me crazy. 'Round here, we're both on vibrate and the calls are always for me. Love it.

Enjoy the silence.

- Liz


Lisa Marie, I've been worried about the charger thing, and am already trying to make a habit of plugging my phone in every night. We'll see how it goes!

Delia, I'd love to see a picture of you performing your acrobatics for the sake of making a phone call!

Neurotic Workaholic, we've been considering this for years, but even so, it's odd to finally take the plunge.

Penelope, I wonder if I could train one of my dogs to do that?

Candyland, glad to hear it's working for you!

Elizabeth, you MUST blog someday with some of those messages included!

janastocks, oh my, your neighbor's experience sounds like a nightmare. Then again, it could be advantageous depending on whether or not they like that politician.

Cherie, we just got AT&T in the town where I live, which is why I finally got an iPhone. That's the main thing that prompted this move.

Lindsay, hey, that's a smart idea! I think the only problem we'd have with it is that Pythagoras would inevitably forget and start using the landline all the time.

Jason, a story behind why I let Pythagoras keep his name? Hmmm...probably has more to do with the spur-of-the-moment nature of our wedding (see the Feb. 12 post!)

Jamie D, I have a friend who refuses to get a cell. I was a little worried about the power thing, but I suppose we can always charge the phones in the car if the power goes out.

Dawn, I feel your pain! Nothing worse than having to be someone's phone butler!

Robin, I made the call earlier this morning, so the deed is done. Think I should notify the doctor that we'll no longer be accepting his calls?!

Jean, we actually haven't had long distance service on the landline for several years, so we're used to using our cell phones for that. Hopefully that'll make the transition a little easier.

middle child, my biggest worry with giving up the "real" phone is that I'll miss the size & the heft of it. That's the way I get 99% of all household chores done -- I tuck the thing between my ear and shoulder and chat with my mom while I work!

Jan, LOL, that makes sense :)

Liz, enjoy the silence? Er, don't you mean "enjoy the vibrating?"

Thanks for reading, guys!