No land in sight

Jul. 07, 2013 @ 11:38 PM

Even though I don’t make my own cheese, feed my own chickens or know a craft beer from Kraft macaroni, I consider myself, yes, sort of a hipster. Somebody on the cutting edge, highly attuned, running with the flow, flowing with the run, dancing to the beat, as long as it’s slow and I’m wearing those really comfortable orthotics. 

A perfect hipster for my age.  Well, except for the hip part (which hurts a lot).

That’s why it’s so difficult for me to admit this: I still have a land line.

(For those younger than 30, a land line is a phone that you cannot put in your pocket or take with you when you go skydiving for craft beers. It doesn’t do e-mail, offer GPS directions, provide music, play games, remind you when to put on your Doc Martens or answer questions about Kanye West’s new album. You also don’t type on it.

A land line is a telephone that’s, well, just a telephone. It makes calls. It takes calls. Sometimes it hears from robots who want to lower your credit card balance. Think of it sort of like G-chat, but with a dial tone.)

I have had a land line for a very long time. In fact, I’ve had a land line ever since the time it was just known by its last name, line. And I can’t seem to give it up.

Part of the reason, I’m sure, is nostalgia, that I can remember when all land lines actually had real names. Those were called exchanges, and you used the first two letters of the exchange as the beginning of your phone number.

Where I grew up, you could tell a lot about people by their exchange. You knew what neighborhood or town they lived in and thus what their gross annual income was, who they voted for, where they got their hair cut and if they knew all the words to “Stairway to Heaven.” It was a useful tool.

Now, of course, a land line is an increasingly lonely piece of equipment. Nobody from the old days — not the 8-track tape player, not the VCR, not the boom box nor the Walkman — ever call it anymore, to just shoot the breeze. The only calls coming in are asking for donations or explaining how the land line should vote.  

I am paying a hefty sum each month — money that could be better used feeding my chickens if I had chickens to feed — so my land line can continue receiving phone requests to help out the Newspaper Humor Columnists Benevolent Protection Assistance Society and other worthy organizations.

So I know I should give up the line, but I’ve been with its numbers so long. They are some of my favorite numbers, particularly the 7, because I can do that little European slash thing on the middle of it, and I actually can remember all the numbers, usually in order.

It’s hard to pull the plug. And yes, young people, it really does have a plug.

Neil Offen can be reached at theneiloffencolumn@yahoo.com.