Published 9:35 am Wednesday, April 13, 2022
Dear “Unavailable,” I would like to apologize for never answering your call. Only you know how many times you call every day. I’ve lost count. All I know is that just as I am about to fall asleep for a short nap, the telephone rings and the Caller ID announces your name, “Unavailable.”
It’s kind of weird. You’re always calling to say you are unavailable. Wouldn’t it be more logical if you were available when you call? I do wonder what you look like and, again, I apologize for not answering, but the few times I have picked up the phone and said, “Hello,” you hang up without saying anything.
This may come as a surprise and I should have warned you, but the next time you call, you’ll get a recorded message from AT&T, “This number is no longer in service,” so Adios “Unavailable.”
Donna Sue and I finally decided to let our landline telephone go the way of white wall tires and hubcaps. We both have our 24/7 cell phones and no longer wanted to pay the $37.66 each month just to hear Ms. Unavailable call her name 18 times a day.
She wasn’t the only one who called on our landline. There was that lady who wanted me to know that there was nothing wrong with my credit card, but this was the “last time” I would get the opportunity to get another one. I didn’t answer that one either because I knew two things. One, if there was nothing wrong, why would I want another one? Two, I knew she would call again and give me one more “last chance.”
Also, there were the two or three calls a day that asked me about Medicare. “Did you know Medicare is sending out new cards? All I need to know is your Social Security number and your local bank account number.” Uh, I might have been born at night but not last night!
It wasn’t too hard to cancel the landline. I called AT&T and talked with a computer-generated voice that told me my call was very important and it would only be thirty minutes before I could talk to a real person.
Finally a person introduced himself with the fine American name of Chester, although Chester had a distinctive foreign accent that I could hardly understand. As Chester walked me through the process, I had to ask him to repeat everything he said. “I’m having a difficult time understanding you, Chester.” I guess my ears are accustomed to hearing English.
Before finishing my business with Chester, he asked me why I was closing the account on the landline. That was easy. “I don’t get any calls on it that aren’t solicitations or scams.” It’s a shame that a device that was, once, indispensable in our homes has become almost useless.
Chester might have been foreign, but he was up on the latest American ways of doing business. He asked me who my cellphone provider was and let me know that AT&T was offering a very special deal on cellphone plans. I could even keep my same number.
I thought, but didn’t say it. “If AT&T wanted more of my business, they’d make my landline telephone work better.”
Although the decision to cut the cord, so to speak, on the landline telephone was a no-brainer, it was significant. After all, how many of us have had telephone numbers for decades? When I made the suggestion to my mother, she tried to remember how long she had been connected to the world through Southern Bell and, then, AT&T.
Times change and so do the ways we communicate. It’s a lot quieter now that I’m not hearing from “Unavailable.”