I STILL HAVE A LANDLINE! Okay — I said it. Don’t judge and think I’ve been left behind the times. I asked someone once if they still have a landline. I got this quizzical look like I just mentioned something so foreign and out of this world that I felt sorry I brought it up.
There was once a time when every household had a landline we called our home phone. Some households even have more than one landline. If you grew up during this time, you know what I’m talking about.
I remember when home phones were connected in our homes with a series of wires. Ours was mounted on our kitchen wall. It was an avocado green rotary phone —- yes, it was one of those where the phone dial was arranged in a circular layout. To dial a number, you would use a finger to rotate the wheel from the position of each of the phone number digits to a stop position at some sort of mechanical barrier to prevent further rotation. When released at the finger stop, the wheel returns to the home position.
When you pick up the heavy handset from its cradle to make a call, you instantly hear a humming sound called a “dial tone”. This sound tells you to dial the number to make a call. One day I was describing to my son how phones worked when I was growing up. He was amazed when I told him that we would automatically be connected to an operator when we pick up the headset and do nothing leaving the dial tone humming. When the dial tone stops humming you’ll start to hear ringing and a human being who worked for the phone company would replace the ringing and say “operator, may I help you?”
These were the times when operators are there to assist you. They were always polite when they come on line . You could ask them for just almost everything—– A phone number for a person or business you are looking for, ask the time or ask them to connect you to someone’s number or local business.
Eventually, the human operators were replaced by a recording. When your home phone was left off the hook, instead of being transferred to a human, a recording “If you’d like to make a call, please hang up and dial again” will come on. The rotary phones were also replaced in the 80’s by push button phones which we now know as touch tone phones. The cords alsow went away and home phones became wireless.
Our home phone belongs to the whole family. There were rules around calling. It was considered a” no-no” to call at certain times of the day—during dinner time or on the weekends. I remembered my parents considering it rude when my friends call me when we’re eating dinner. I still think to this day that calling during dinner time is unacceptable but it seems to be the ideal time for sales people to make their calls because they know you’re home and might pick up the phone.
When I was growing up, my friends who call our house phone would usually get my parents on the line first since children usually do not answer the home phone. My friends had to go through a gatekeeper (my parents) who likely would ask who’s calling since caller id was not available then. When I get a call from my friends because they wanted to hang out, they get one of my parents and would need to talk to them first and ask their permission.
It was always an unknown who is on the other line when the phone rings. Our phone number was a good number, easily remembered. Phone numbers were memorized during those days. We didn’t have phones that kept phone numbers in their memory. In fact our home phone at that time did not have a memory to store numbers!
With the arrival of the digital age, home phones are becoming less and less a necessity and a waste of money. Everyone has a cell phone now and people are getting rid of their home phones. Every person can be reached. People and businesses can be found on the internet. You can call someone directly without going through a gatekeeper. Now when someone calls, you immediately know who is calling and you can decide if you want to take the call or ignore it.
I really don’t know why I can’t let go of my landline and why I feel so important to keep my home phone number. I’ve had my home phone number since we moved to Colorado. My current home phone number is a good one— easily remembered like the one I had growing up.
Most of my family and friends don’t have home phones anymore. The only calls I get on my home phone are robo calls, from solicitors and wrong numbers. Aside from holding on to a sense of nostalgia of the past and knowing that my home phone can receive reverse 911 calls, there are not a lot of reasons form me to hang on to my landline.
I don’t know how long I’ll keep sending monthly payments to my phone company for my landline. For now, I feel the need to hold on to my landline. I may eventually give it up and join most of you who severed ties to landline home phones. I don’t care if I get those funny looks. I am fine if I fall behind the times. I may be the minority when it comes to landlines but my landline stays for now! Let’s see where this takes me, if anywhere. I may be one of the last ones to let go but I am fine with that. If you’re like me— if you still have a landline— will you keep hanging on?