In a grand experiment, I have decided to do away with my land telephone lines. I have noticed recently that I make almost 100% of my business and personal calls using either my cell phone or VoIP services such as Skype. As a mobile worker in every other respect it occurred to me, why am I holding on to a landline? What is the point? Is it some form of nostalgia?
Perhaps it’s the Zen of untangling a phone cord in between calls only for it to become tangled again? Perhaps it’s the conversational interludes provided by crashing the phone base to the floor when stretching for items just out of reach? Perhaps it’s the buzz of cordless phone systems or the high-pitched radio interference noticeable on quieter calls? (“Can you hear that? I think it’s the Chipmunks. Yes, I can hear the Chipmunks in the background.”) Is it the comfort of getting regular mail (bills) from local and long distance carriers? What will I put on my desk in place of a phone? Will I look less authoritative without an AT&T six line special? (“The red flashing button? That’s my landscaper on hold. He can wait. Now, you were saying?”)
I realize that such a bold move may not be possible for some people in sales, customer service, or people who make a lot of interoffice calls but for designers, programmers, or other people constantly on the go, why not? Has the desk phone become so ingrained in our experience that we can’t live without it?
Being a believer in modern communication, I had to find out. Tonight I called AT&T/SBC and asked to have my landlines disconnected. Let me tell you, it was a frightening call, but given the reasons above I’m not sure why. The gentleman operator at SBC assured me that they would give callers my existing cellular number. I asked that he read my cell number back to me to make sure he had it right. He did. After a few more questions to verify my identity he asked when I would like my landlines disconnected. I said as soon as possible and he said that they could be turned off within two hours. A final mini-wave of panic went through me. What if the forwarding doesn’t work?! What if telemarketers start calling my cell number day and night?? Still, I had to find out, so I said in a steady voice, “That will be fine.” He said OK — it’s done. So now I am landline-free. We’ll see how it goes! This story of modern wireless communication to be continued.