Published on January 5, 2021

My loyal landline phone is now history

By Edward A. Forbes / The Bulletin

It was hard on me, but I felt like I had to do it, even though it made me sad. I had my landline disconnected.

After 50 years of having it, I found that it just makes economic sense to part our separate ways.

It seems to be irrational to experience a sense of loss over a device whose only function over the past few years is to send the occasional fax (yes, I know email has made faxes another piece of those rapidly disappearing artifacts.)

“Daaad, you don’t need a landline that you seldom if ever use.”

This from a child who calls occasionally and asks, “Can I come over and have you fax some things for me?”

Or the occasional friend coquettishly batting eyes: “Could you download, print and fax this 5,000-page document for me?”

It seems that there are still lawyers, doctors and some businesses that are trapped in the fax world and have not kept up with the current technology.

These are not the reasons however that I had such a hard time turning loose of that landline. It was the emergency night number for my business for many years. There were those patients/friends that would call asking for advice or just to catch up with our comings and goings.

This was also the line that notified me of family emergencies and achievements. “I’m in labor, and we need to get to the hospital.”

This ignited a fast trip to the Clear Lake Hospital in 1982. After making the run eight times, I could make it in 30 to 40 minutes up Hwy. 35 to Alvin, around the bypass to NASA 1 (or was it FM 528 back then?) with two lanes all the way.

This was the line we used to call the family and notify them of my daughter’s arrival, the death of my father, the birth of my son in 1984. This was the line of communication that we used to share the highs and lows of our lives.

I eventually converted to a cell phone, but it was only for emergencies, or if I was “out of pocket.” We progressed from the crude phones with Houston Cellular to Cingulair and eventually AT&T.

When my daughter started driving, her car came with a cell phone so she could call me when she had an emergency or needed help, but not to call friends. The reliable landline remained intact, although its use began declining.

“Senior citizens can get a phone for as low as $15 a month,” I was told. I qualified, but the lowest I was ever quoted was $30. After all the up-sells, it wound up at $79 a month. Thus, we came to the reality that I was spending money I could use elsewhere on something I rarely used or needed.

Still, it was like losing an old friend or putting an elderly family pet down. A great deal of nostalgia is involved.

I am not ashamed to admit that I’m a sentimental man. I cry over sad movies and events. Turning loose of things reminds me that we are getting older. But I’m not going down without a fight.

Now, how do I get rid of the “thingy” that the wall phone in my kitchen hung on?

(Edward Forbes wants to hear from you. Email him at eforbes1946@gmail.com or send comments by snail mail to The Bulletin, PO Box 2426, Angleton TX. 77516.)