Betsy’s Corner: Sorry, Wrong Number

Communication via an old-fashioned landline is almost extinct. Around here we need our landline. The house we live in has terrible cellphone reception, so we need our regular old landline 567 numbers for the foreseeable future.

When I was growing up in New York, our number was SW3-6460. We had the same number for 59 years, and it was recently turned off. SW stood for Swiftwater. Other local prefixes were DE7, or Deerfield 7, and my grandparents Manhattan‘s number in the 1940s was BU8, better known as Butterfield8. If you were older than me, you’d know this as the title of a famous Elizabeth Taylor movie. The younger generation does not recall these numbers combined with letters – it’s just a thing of the past.

The other thing that is now extinct is a telephone cord – a long twisty connection to a phone attached to a wall or a telephone on a table. Some cords were short and some were long. All of them were twisty not flat. The longer ones gave you privacy from your parents who were eavesdropping or your little brother who was secretly listening to your conversations.

Nowadays, the regular phone number does not ring much. My communication with friends is often via cellphone or text message. When the phone rings at home during dinnertime, it usually means it’s a solicitation. Solar energy, a holiday trip sweepstakes or a credit card warning usually tops the list. Sometimes it is a fraudulent message from the IRS or even a threatening message about something I never even ordered. Needless to say, I don’t answer these phone calls because caller ID tells me the number and a name. Boy do I wish we had that technology ages ago. It certainly would make things easier if we always knew who was calling.

The worst calls are “Robo” calls. I can’t even tell the caller “Sorry, wrong number” because it is not a person – it is a computer generated phone call from a robot. The worst possible time for these obnoxious calls is around election time. The elected official calls using a recording and tells you to vote for him or her, or even worse, tells you about all the bad things the opponent does or says. I would really love to get rid of our landline but then I realize that my cellphone also gets Robo calls and solicitations. Maybe I will just silence my cellphone so it does not interrupt my train of thought. Constant interruptions do not help my concentration when I am trying to work or write an article. Phone calls are great but it’s time for a good old summer vacation even if it’s a stay-cation. The ringer is off. My recording says I will call back. I am missing out on peace of mind with all these calls and messages. Just send me an email. Thanks – but make sure it doesn’t end up as Spam.

– By Betsy Huber Port