To answer or not to answer, that is the question

We still have a landline. Most of our friends and family routinely call our cell phones, but we keep the old landline because it makes our WiFi cheaper.

AT&T calls it bundling.

We call it hustling.

In any case, because we have been conditioned to run whenever an electronic of any sort rings, beeps, dings, chimes or grunts, we race for the landline three, four, sometimes eight times a day.


It’s not a bad workout even though the doctor insists it does not qualify as aerobics.

It’s like two of Pavlov’s dogs escaped from the behavior conditioning lab, made their way to the U.S. and have been discovered years later living in suburbia. The phone rings, we run. Over and over. Ring, run. Ring, run. Repeat.

Let me be clear—we don’t actually answer the phone, but we do run to it.

We both usually skid to a stop in front of the phone at the same time. Then, we stand there, craning our necks, squinting our eyes—because neither of us ever remembers our glasses—trying to make out what it says on caller ID.

It often appears to be some distant relative calling.

“Looks like UNK NOWN again,” I say. “Has to be on your side. I’ve never had any uncles who go by Unk.”

“I don’t either,” the husband says. “At least not that I’ve known.”

“Say what you want, that Unk is a persistent fellow. I wonder what he wants,” I say.

“The same thing they all want. Money.”

The phone finally quits ringing and we return to our respective corners until the next time it rings.

The calls are a bit of a nuisance, but it does mean a substantial savings on the internet. Besides, we don’t truly mind hanging on to the landline. Not only does it keep us from getting sedentary, we’re thinking it could be our ticket to what financial planners call an income stream in retirement.

I have suggested we charge neighbor kids $5 a pop to see what an old-fashioned landline looks like and $10 if they want to make a call. They can make a call while I swipe their credit card with the Square on my cell phone. I love when old technology converges with the new.

We figure if nothing else, keeping a landline around will give our grands something to talk about when they’re teens.

“Remember that old phone Grandma and Grandpa used to have?”

“Yeah, it was totally opposite of a smart phone – couldn’t take pictures, listen to music, watch videos or leave the house, but when you pushed the buttons they each made a noise.

“And it had some sort of tone when you picked it up? Remember. A mile tone? A file tone?”

“A dial tone!”

“That was it.”

“It was cool, wasn’t it?”

Of course it is. That’s why we keep a landline. Because we’re cool. Well, that and because we’re cheap.

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