My wife and I decided to do something that many Americans are doing these days: ignore political ads. While doing so, we also decided to get rid of our home phone line. That’s right: we’ve severed ties with our local phone company, a process that is as gory and disturbing as it sounds (that whole “sever” thing). I wasn’t there, but I understand that the conversation went something like this:
Mr. PhonCo: Hello, valued customer. How can we be of service today?
Emily: Well… (sheepisly) we would like to get rid of our home phone service.
Mr. PhonCo: Oh, I’m sorry to hear that, valued customer. It says here on my screen that for you to do so would be a bad idea.
Emily: Well, we need to cut costs, and we hardly use the thing anyway, so…
Mr. PhonCo: Were you dissatisfied with your service, pending customer?
Emily: No, not one bit. We always had a dial tone. The phone always rang to alert us to incoming calls, etc.
Mr. PhonCo: So you’re saying we’ve never let you down. I’ll tell Ma Bell. Oh, wait. She’s dead.
Mr. PhonCo: It says here you’ve been using the phone since you were 3 months old. Your first conversation was long distance to Grandma’s house. You girgled. She girgled. It was beautiful. Should I play that call back now?
Emily: You can do that?
Mr. PhonCo: Are you a cop?
Both: Awkward pause.
Mr. PhonCo: Ma’am, what can we do to keep you as a customer today?
Emily: To keep me as a customer? Charge nothing.
Mr. PhonCo: Oh, our sliding scale goes down to $25 per month. It says here on my screen that I should say it’s the best we can do and to act like you’re really putting us under the bus.
Emily: I’m so sorry. It’s not you, it’s just that our cell phones are our primary–
Mr. PhonCo: Oh. Cell phones. I suppose you’ll be counting on them when the tower goes down.
Mr. PhonCo: Um. Nothing.
Emily: So, yeah. I was thinking we could end the phone service on Thursday or maybe Friday?
Mr. PhonCo: How about right now?
Emily: What? (Click, silence) Hello?
Okay, so the conversation probably didn’t go like that and chances are good that I just made it up. In actuality, the phone company took our switch-over pretty well, as if they’ve heard this a bazillion times from customers like us. We’ve used POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service) for generations, and in as little as a decade, as Cell towers dominate the landscape, we’ve switched teams like that (snapping finger sound) and have replaced Ma Bell with Dad Cell. You’ve gotta wonder how that leaves her feeling (by which I refer to Emily).