Why Can’t I Get a Dial Tone?

For years I paid two phone bills, one for a land line and one for wireless. I don’t even like phones. I’m perfectly happy listening to the voices already in my head. I usually forget to take my cell phone with me, anyway, and isn’t that the purpose of having one? Oh, well, if I miss a call or days of calls, life will go on.

People ring you, not with news of import or to hear what you’re up to, they call because they’re bored. And after listening for a minute or two I understand why. They’re very tedious, these people. Enabling them to reach me twenty-four hours a day, wherever I am, is masochism. So I canceled my land line service, but kept wireless for one reason: an off button.

What I gave up is a dial tone, a significant loss. The dial tone was a fine, useful invention, letting you know all was well. When the power went out, the dial tone was there to alert the authorities. When a creepy noise woke you at three in the morning, the dial tone told you not to worry, the phone line hadn’t been cut. On Christmas Day, when you called dear old mom, the dial tone said, feliz navidad, buddy. Noble bastard.

Now I hold a silent phone, as mute on as it is off. The screen lights up if I push a button, but it’s not the same. That says the phone’s charged, it doesn’t promise a signal or not to drop the call. Of course, if the call is dropped, how will you know? There’s no dial tone announcing you’ve been disconnected, so you go on talking to someone who isn’t there. Like people do before therapy.

Busy signals are history, too. Now you get shot straight to voicemail, no questions asked. That seem presumptuous. I hadn’t intended to leave a voicemail, but the phone decided I should. Well, I don’t need a cell phone telling me what to do. I have people for that. Plenty of them. Besides, leaving a message is redundant when every wireless activity is duly noted and the call recipient notified of your unsuccessful attempt to get in touch. Man, having a cell phone is like carrying a nosy little tattletale in your pocket.

Who needs a phone to rat you out? Not me, I have people for that, too. What I need is a dial tone. Hello? Are you still there? Hello-o-o-o?

Copyright © Publikworks 2011.

16 thoughts on “Why Can’t I Get a Dial Tone?

  1. Love your post. I share your frustrations with home phones and mobile phones and work extensions and “re-direct” services and message banks and emails and pagers and facebook and… jesus the list goes on. Am I really THAT important that I need to be reachable at all hours of the day and night? Really, people? Trust me, I’m not.

    Unfortunately, we had to keep the land line because australia is so freaking far behind technical evolution that we can’t have the internet without it… or pay T.V. for that matter. Crap.


    1. There’s a lack of ‘alone time,’ isn’t there? My biggest gripe is with the people who use their cell phones in restrooms. Is nothing sacred? Thanks for stopping, notajunkfoodeater.


  2. Oh my, oh my! She’s a Maineiac recommended I read this – she thought I’d like it. I do. Oh, I do. You speak my language, which is tough – because my language is gobbley-gook most of the time.

    I loathe the phone. We still have a dial tone in our house. Sometimes, I pick up the phone and talk to the dial tone. It ‘gets’ me. But my cell phone? Humph. It stays in my purse, and generates complaints from friends and family that are unable to reach me by cell phone.


    1. I think I bought a cell phone initially because it was shiny. Now it’s a paper weight, a shiny, sparkly paperweight. Enjoy the dial tone while you still have it, Lenore.


  3. Every post I’ve read so far is brilliant and hilarious. How on earth do you do it?

    I miss the dial tone too. I miss my gram’s old pea soup-green rotary when her phone number only consisted of four numbers. I remember picking up the phone back in the 70s at the very same second as my close friend down the road and she’d be on the other line saying…”hello? hello?” then we’d laugh hysterically. Those were the days, my friend.


    1. Thanks, Maineiac, you say such nice things. Those, indeed. were the days. Remember trying to force the dial to go faster on the rotary phone? Pulling it back toward the finger stop? It was so slow it was aggravating. Now it’s just the opposite — you’re connected before you know what you’re going to say.


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