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?
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