Sunday, February 21, 2010

No Phone Home

While I generally embrace technology, I have to say I’m rethinking my family’s dependence on the wireless phone. In fact, I’m seriously contemplating installing those ancient tabletop phones with the old push buttons, or better yet the rotary dialer. This frustration comes in the wake of yet another “phone issue” here in our house.

Two summers ago our family lost one of two handsets to our phone system. We spent a lot of time outside clearing the yard that summer and there is a good chance it got buried beneath the raspberry bushes somewhere. We lived with one handset for quite awhile, until my bitching about running up and down the stairs to find the one operable phone that was ringing started to annoy my husband. With four phone users in the house, it is also a certainty that each person never knows where the phone is located. “I didn’t use it last,” ends up being the new family mantra as I desperately try to lay blame somewhere. Being the convenient wireless that it is, the missing phone could be anywhere: under the bed, in the laundry hamper, shoved in a drawer with the dirty clothes from the kid’s floor, or out on the back porch. I’ve even placed it in the mailbox on my way to get the kids from the bus. The good news here is that our one remaining handset will repeatedly beep if you push the FIND HANDSET button on the system base. If you walk into our house and all four family members seem to be walking and stopping and listening walking and stopping and listening, there is a good chance we’re looking for the handset. I’d like to note however, that this life-saving feature only works if the handset is charged. This info will come in handy a bit later.

Clearly one handset wasn’t working for the family and that Christmas my husband surprised me with another handset—one that was compatible to our current system. All you had to do was program it, you see, to your current phone system and it would be an additional handset to use. Easy peasy puddin’ and pie.

My husband spent the better portion of that morning reading the directions and pushing buttons until….he programmed the new handset to ring with our system. Yeah!! However, in the process of programming that new phone, he un-programmed our old phone which (to this day) does not work, ring, or charge, but is still nestled in the charging jack of our system. Back to one phone again. What’s that saying about good intentions?

We were still a one handset phone family until this past Thanksgiving, when one of the treasures we managed to escape my in-laws house with was a “phone set,” housed in a large 9x13 Tupperware container. Two handhelds and two charging bases, my husband figured out how to rig these butes so that they too could be used with our phone system (that is just the system by the way because all the original handsets have disappeared.) “Aren’t you excited honey?” asked my husband. “Now you can have a phone in your office all the time and one upstairs. It’s what you’ve always wanted.”


“Have you used those phones yet?” I asked.

“No. Why?”

Well, the why-because is that when talking in those repurposed phones (to put it nicely) it sounds exactly like you are talking into your unplugged hairdryer. I’m not sure what it is but in most phones I’ve used in my lifetime, when you talk into them your own voice goes somewhere—is somehow absorbed by the phone—leaving you with the feeling that your voice is being heard on the other end. But with these handsets, when you talk your voice is thrown back at you like you are talking against a window and you’re not quite sure if the other end can hear you. Based on these characteristics, we now refer to the handsets in our house as the “good phone” and the “crappy phones.”

Now that we have three handsets in the house, one would think that our communication issues were solved. However, now that there are three handsets, there are three more things I have to remember to place on the charging base. I say “me” here because I think it will be a cold day in hell when the children actually think to charge them. They’ll charge their DS’s but God-forbid they charge the handsets. My husband has been known to throw a phone or two on the charger, but I can safely say, not charging the phones is a family problem.

Can you see where this is going dear reader?

Guess what we are now missing?

You got it. The last remaining good phone is now MIA.

Don’t get me wrong. I have two crappy phones I can and do use. There is also a nice speaker feature on the system base that we use when we can’t find those handsets either.

What’s that you ask? Did I try and BEEP it?

Of course I tried to beep it. The phone has been missing for days now and the battery is dead. The homing device will no longer lead us to the missing communication portal. Now, it’s just about searching the old-fashioned way. With tech-sniffing dogs.

In order to solve these problems my family has with wireless phones, I think I’m going to screw the damned things to a wall or table somewhere. Then I’m going to attach a looonnnnggg, stretchy cord to the handsets so you have a little walking freedom, but not so much that you can misplace it. My new device won’t need to be charged either. It will work at all times, including during power outages. Sure I might not be able to talk while I’m using the restroom, whisking a béarnaise, or potting my flowers in spring, but at least I’ll always know where the phone is.

What’s that you say? They already have phones like this?



Anonymous said...

Long stretchy cord and rotary dials......ahhh the good ole days!


Megan said...

I can confirm that this IS a problem for your family...mostly because when I call, I usually end up on speaker phone. I think that Costco usually have these phones on sale with four bases- you might even be able to find a coupon in their monthly mailers. :)