Danny Tyree: Are you still clinging to your landline?

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 8, 2023

If I could somehow call my father in the Great Beyond, I’d confess that I’m turning into him.

I always felt sorry for Dad because inertia took control, and he continued paying a monthly rental fee on his landline phone for years and years after telephone industry deregulation made it possible for consumers to own their unit outright.

Well, yours truly has been paying for both wireless service and a seldom-used landline (from a different provider) for an embarrassingly long time.

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(In my defense, until just recently, our cellphone coverage would huff and puff and not penetrate the front door. 

For years, it was as if we sprinkled Passover lamb’s blood on the doorposts and lintel to ward off the Angel of Death and, oh yeah, doctor’s appointment changes and severe weather alerts.)

I’ve appreciated 30 years of cheerful service from the maintenance team (“We’ll remove the drooping tree limb that’s causing static, although that acorn over yonder may still be problematic…”); but I finally cut the cord today, discontinuing both landline phone and DSL internet service.

I realize a landline remains a lifeline for many people (including traditionalists who keep a set of birdwatching binoculars nearby for pursuing the rare ruby-throated printed phone book); but since I communicate with most friends and relatives either through social media or face-to-face, it became a luxury that was nickeling-and-diming me to death.

It was a nuisance as well. Signing up for a “Do not call” list was like posting a “Wet Paint” sign or ripping off a tourniquet in shark-infested waters.

Once in a blue moon, I enjoyed a surprise chat with a long-lost cousin; but mostly my family encountered a suppertime barrage of calls alternating between (a) “Would you like to participate in an unbiased survey about which corner of hell should be reserved for the leading Democrat/Republican/Whig candidate?,” (b) “We’d like to thank you in advance for your donation to the Sheriff of Nottingham’s Benevolent Fund,” (c) “Cost-effective Replacement Wasp Nests are easier to install that you might think” and (d) “Oops…we got the wrong continent, but maybe you’d like to hear this Amber Alert, anyway.”

Don’t get me started on our internet experience. Sure, our DSL was cutting-edge at the time we graduated from a dial-up connection; but its “I think I can, I think I can” tenacity just couldn’t handle the era of streaming. 

Netflix and chill? No, it was more like “Netflix and maybe it’ll finish buffering by the end of the next ice age.”

I felt guilty about how many years of service we squeezed out of our DSL modem/router. 

But when we went searching from store to store for a replacement, I could see the “What century are you from?” look in the eyes of merchants. 

They humored us by advising, “If you really want to share communications, we have this lantern and this horse. Now practice saying, ‘One if by land and two if by sea…’”

I’m sure I’ll adapt to the reality of not having a (costly) backup plan, but I still regret mischievous stunts I never got to execute. My wife and I often fantasized about keeping an airhorn handy for unwelcome callers.

And if only I could channel my father to respond to an overly bubbly telephone solicitor!

“Good evening. Am I speaking to Danny Tyree?”

“Not anymore!” SLAM!!!

Copyright 2023 Danny Tyree, distributed by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate. Danny Tyree welcomes email responses at tyreetyrades@aol.com and visits to his Facebook fan page “Tyree’s Tyrades.”