How to Use a Land Line

Thursday, May 16, 2019

We live in a moment (that feels like an age) of declining decorum, intrusive government, and advancing technology. These three factors have, in my estimation, combined to make the land line telephone worse than useless to many people, at least in America. Somewhere, I recall someone quite aptly liken the land line to "a fire alarm anyone in the world can set off in your home at any time."

Image by ElasticComputerFarm, via Pixabay, license.
I work from home and, between my cell phone and Google Voice, most of my telephone needs are taken care of. I have a land line at all for two reasons: (1) my wife needs the redundancy of the land line for her job when she is at home; and (2) I have a medical condition that could conceivably require one of my young children to make an emergency call. The second is easier with the hand set of the land line, and redundancy is good there, too.

So I need a land line when my wife is home, but on call; and when my kids (but no other adults) are home. I am on the National Do Not Call Registry, but my phone rings off the hook during the day.

What to do?

In the spirit of benevolence towards others with similar predicaments, here is how I deal with my land line telephone during my work days:
  1. Make sure my cell phone number is the only (or preferred) number listed for educators, child care providers, and anyone else who might need to reach me in an emergency;
  2. Provide my Google Voice number to anyone who might need to reach me for business purposes; and
  3. Unplug my land line. (See below.)
Unplugging the land line is not trivial! Here is how I do this. (NOTE: Order and rigorous adherence to routine are important.)
  1. Have the following entry in planner for the start of any work day: Unplug land line. (Often, someone will volunteer to remind you, but sometimes, they're late.)
  2. Check for the following entry in your planner for the end of the work day: Plug in and test land line.
  3. Write PHONE on a Post-It Note and affix to bathroom mirror. (Use any smooth, uncluttered surface you WILL see in the morning and in the evening of any day you are home. Use a new piece each day to ensure working adhesive.);
  4. Place cover reading UNPLUGGED over phone.
  5. Unplug the land line.
  6. Work in relative peace.
  7. At end of work day, plug in land line and listen for dial tone.
  8. Remove cover from phone.
  9. Discard post-it note.
  10. Have the following step as a part of your evening review or routine: Test land line. (Often, some random volunteer will do this for you.)
If you have a call that, for some reason, you want to take on the land line, set an appointment for it and treat the times around the call like the end and beginning of a work day. Make sure the other party knows you will be unavailable at that number outside some sensible time window.

Phones are supposed to be convenient for their owners, not for trespassers and other criminals. The opposite is true, and this industry seems ready for a well-deserved comeuppance by an enterprising soul somewhere. That can't come soon enough for me.

-- CAV

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