Ulster 5-1109* . . .

I know a lot of you younger readers will find this hard to believe, but at one time there was no such thing as an area code.  You just dialed UL5-1109 (or whatever your landline telephone number was) and you’d reach the party you were calling.  It was just that simple.  You dialed the number, the phone on the other end of the line rang, and, if you were lucky, someone answered.

Not so today.  First off, most folks no longer even have a “landline.”  Oh, they might think they have one, but it really isn’t so.  These days, everything goes over the Internet.  There’s no such thing as a genuine “landline.”  We divested ourselves of ours about six months ago . . . and we’ve rued the day ever since.  It’s bad enough that our four children refused to call us on it, now the phone company has gone and unconnected the cursed thing.  No longer does that reliable, low voltage, mini current flow seductively through the telephone lines, assuring us of contact with the outside world—in case of a natural disaster.  Noooo.  If the power goes out, so does your “landline.”

So now we’ve got cell phones, or mobile phones, or, if you’re one of many, you’ve got a “smart phone.”  Big deal!  The damned things are only as smart as the people using them.  Enough said?  Most people our age that I know aren’t as smart as they think they are.  Oh yeah, they’ve got loads of pictures of their grandchildren on their smart phone, but do they really know how to use the thing?  Hmmmph.  Not on your life.  

But the main thing I hate about so-called smart phones is that you never know whether or not they’re going to work.  Oh, that’s ridiculous, you say.  Not really.  If you didn’t charge the thing the night before, it could be out of power, and then it wouldn’t ring.  Or, worse yet, you might have forgotten to turn it on when you woke up this morning.  Again, the same result: it doesn’t ring.  Or—and how many times has this happened to you?—you accidentally turned down the ringer volume last night during your favorite TV show.  Soooo, even though the damned thing is ringing, you can’t hear it . . . unless (and this is a biggie), you’ve got it set to vibrate.  But, of course, if it isn’t in your pocket, you won’t feel a thing, and you’ll still miss your call.

Anyway, after missing a call for the umpteenth time, my wife and I have come to an inevitable conclusion: we’re getting our landline back.  True, it will still fail during a power outage, but at least we won’t have to worry about turning it on—or charging it—and we’ll definitely hear it ring when the juice is flowing.  And isn’t that what it’s all about?

Gimme a call—and we’ll talk about it.

*UL5-1109 was the first phone number I ever had as a kid in Brooklyn, in case you were wondering.

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