I used to have a landline. Pretty much everyone I knew had one too. Then cell phones became more ubiquitous and they gradually took over the industry. But I kept my landline for a variety of reasons.
First, I’d had it for 40 years. It felt comfortable, and it was an easy number to remember. When my parents were at the end stages of their lives, it was a number they still could recall, even though they’d forgotten most of my siblings’ numbers.
So while they were alive, I felt a certain amount of pressure (internal, mostly) to keep it. It provided a connection, however seldom used, between me and them. But it also served in some ways as an anchor, holding me to the past.
They were the second reason I kept it, to make their lives better. Third, I liked going out for a time – whether to work or to run errands or to attend an event – and feeling a sense of anticipation when I returned home. Perhaps there’d be a call waiting for me, a message to connect with someone. Anticipation, that old friend, provided just enough of a dopamine boost to keep me from discarding the line.
But my parents finally died and I decided to get rid of the phone. That decision was made easier by the vast number of spam calls I received on it. Even though I usually didn’t have to answer them, they still interrupted my day.
I had to get up and glance at the phone to see who was calling, or check my voicemail at some point. Since I also had to do that for my cell phone, it seemed like a double whammy having to do it for the landline too, especially when it was often a junk call.
I miss that anticipation, that returning to home, wondering if someone has called and left me a message about some exciting event, some gathering of friends or family. I’ll be driving along and for just a moment, I’ll forget that I no longer have a landline, and I’ll wonder if someone might be trying to reach me at that particular moment.
And then I’ll remember that I have my one and only phone with me, that I told all my contacts I’d relinquished my landline, and anyone trying to reach me will use my cellphone. For that brief flash of time, I’ll regret not having that second audio connection, that safety net for just in case my cellphone stops working.
But then the cellphone rings. Excuse me. I have to take this.