The other day my husband told me that he thought that local phone companies should be targeting their advertising at the "family" angle. This came up because we were talking about how many people no longer have home telephones. This was the third time this week the topic of land line versus wireless phone had come up in my daily conversations. Every time the conversation turns to letting go of the land line I am amazed. Seriously, I think that Brad and I might be the only ones in America who think that families should hang onto that hard wired home phone. I never thought I was all that traditional in my thinking until I met Brad. Then I realized that I really do respect those old fashioned traditional values. And every year it seems that I respect them more and more. Sure, I could chalk this up to my simply getting older. But I don't really feel like I am getting older. At least as old as I sometimes feel my thinking reflects. Personally, I think that the reason I feel more in touch with those old fashioned values every year is because the world is changing so quickly.
I love technology. Anyone who knows me well knows that I am practically joined at the hip to my Blackberry. I love facebook and it is always easier to reach me via email. I don't even really like to talk on the phone. So it may seem odd that I am a proponent of keeping that old relic; the home telephone. And I like saving money. I use coupons at the grocery store. We buy gift cards at Giant Eagle for large purchases at other stores so that we can collect the "points" for free gas. I plan our weekly meals around what we already have on hand to keep our food bills lower and I sometimes even cut my own hair. I understand the value of the dollar. But I also understand the value of family. And I choose to lower our costs elsewhere so that we can hang on to our home phone.
What does this have to do with family, you might ask? If the Wilkison household removed our land line my husband would never talk to his parents. His mother would call my cell phone. I love my mother-in-law and certainly would not mind being the one to talk with her. I do most of the talking when she calls anyways! (My husband is the strong, quiet type.) Often we come home after a long day and there is a message on the machine from her. And it always starts the same way - "Hi Brad, Beth, and Matthew..." All three of us perk up and stand by the kitchen counter, listening to the message. My dad used to call and leave messages on my answering machine for my cat. OK, that was weird, but I swear that cat would stop what she was doing and run to the machine. There was something about his voice that she just loved. Somehow I doubt chasing her around the house to hold the cell phone up to her hear would have had the same effect.
Sometimes I will call my sister during the day, when I know she at work. I am not doing this because I don't want to talk with her. I am doing it because I know she is very busy at work and usually doesn't have the time to talk on the phone. Sometimes I call at these hours because I just thought of something that I know I will forget if I don't leave a message right now. Sometimes I don't even want to talk to her, but instead am trying to reach my niece. Since she doesn't have a home phone I must call my sister's cell phone. Which she often answers, no matter where she is. There is nothing wrong with that. Some people like to be connected all the time and can handle that much stimulation. I cannot. So I find myself talking with my sister while she is walking through the grocery store or driving across town. How old do I sound right now? I know. But sometimes I just want to leave a message and you can call me back when you have the time. The uninterrupted time.
I talk on my cell phone a lot too. I use it frequently in the car. I carry a call list with me at all times and when I am alone in the car I find this is a great time to return some of those calls. But not every call can be handled while I am distracted by other things like heavy traffic or which cereal is on sale.
What about when my son is a little older and starts getting calls of his own? I want to know who is calling him and what plans are being made. I realize that when he is old enough he will have his own cell phone. I know that there is a measure of safety in carrying a phone, not to mention the social ostracizing of being a teenager without a personal cell phone. I get it. But until then, I want his messages to come through me.
I have been playing phone tag this week with a friend with no home phone. After numerous messages left by both of us this is the message I get on my cell phone: "I'm sorry I missed your call. I was home just watching tv- I must not have heard my phone ringing in my purse." I hear my cell phone ring all the time when I am upstairs and it is downstairs in the kitchen, but I rarely run down the steps to answer it. When the home phone rings, though, I usually pick it up, no matter where I am in the house.
If we had no home phone I would manage the social calendar for my entire family. Which I pretty much do now, but my husband would be even more out of the loop. With an inability to hear the messages or to participate in the calls I would find myself constantly updating him on who did what, who was going where, what so and so said. It would be crazy, and eventually I would stop doing it. And don't you think that would break down our connection at least a little bit? between the two of us we have four cell phones, four email accounts, and two facebook pages. We belong to numerous groups that use email to connect and to distribute information, which I like. This is how large quantities of information should be fed to large groups of people. I like being able to connect with college friends living across the country via the internet. I like planning my son's china group play dates via email and being invited to parties through e-vite. All of that makes my life easier, and it makes sense. But when we get a call for the "family" I do not always wish to be the designated representative. Call me old fashioned, but we are keeping our land line.