The Sound



The other day I was alone in the house, working, when I heard a strange sound.

A soft, tinkling timbre.

I tracked the noise to the white, cordless phone nesting below the printer.

A phone that — up until then — had never uttered a dial tone.

I stared at the device, as though it were a snake that might bite me. Finally, extracting it from the cradle, I studied the keypad before tapping the “talk” button.

“Ha… hello?” I said, tentatively.

“Is this the Miller residence? I’m Janice-and-I’m-calling-from-the-Lukemia-and-Lymphoma-Society. And we were wondering if you were interested in donating to–”

I pushed the “off” button and stared at the creamy, contoured gadget — like it was a meteorite that crashed-landed in my lap.

Chronic Funny Farm followers might recall a rambling post back in March 2011, detailing our phone woes. Bottom line? We’ve been robbed of an operable landline for years.

Initially, frying was the problem; electrical storms fritzed the phone and we’d have to replace it. But somewhere between here and now, the problem shifted to the line, not the device. Which is why that white, virgin phone has squatted by the printer for years, nary making a peep.

Martin once cornered a Verizon guy at the gas station, who diagnosed the problem. “It’s power surges,” he said, “and the farmers. They attach their electric fences to telephone poles, the wires cross and it fries the circuitry.”

Well, wonder of wonders. After years our phone miraculously unfried itself.

Why is this significant? Why do we care when landlines are going the way of the Dodo bird?

Because a home phone has superior clarity over a cell. And I need that when, for example, I call my Granny and I’m struggling to hear her whisper-frail voice.

Now the landline is back in action, baby!

The trouble is — now that we have this revolutionary technology — I often forget that it exists. (Thought I just checked and remarkably, it still has a dial tone. Fascinating…)

Even Hadley, once our resident call screener (see this 2012 post) is mystified by the foreign ringing machine. “What IS that noise?” she recently asked, glancing about as the phone sang its trill.

In fact, the only time that I realize, “we gotta phone!” is when a solicitor calls.

And that’s why — were we not dazzled by this flash of technology —

–I’d probably pitch it in the trash.