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Crookston Times - Crookston, MN
  • Column: Not quite the happiest phone call ever, but close

  • We all feel empowered at particular moments in our lives. Even the littlest thing – maybe someone says they liked your column in the newspaper – can send positive feelings of empowerment coursing through your veins.
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  •    We all feel empowered at particular moments in our lives. Even the littlest thing – maybe someone says they liked your column in the newspaper – can send positive feelings of empowerment coursing through your veins. There are larger moments of empowerment as well, like when you walk across the stage in that shiny gown and cap to receive your high school diploma or college degree. Or maybe you feel empowered when you're sitting nervously and excitedly on the other side of a desk from a person who says, "We'd love to have you come and work for us."
        None of it compares, however, to the empowerment one feels when one finally takes the leap, calls the phone company and says, "Please disconnect our landline."
        Or is it just me?
        Maybe it is just me. For some reason, when I got off the phone with the super nice and very understanding guy from Century Link several weeks ago, I practically floated into the living room to tell our sons that no longer would our house be home to the phone number 281-3846.
        The Century Link guy told me that it would likely be an hour or two before our line was officially out of service. But when I told our sons about this monumental development in our lives, I strolled to the nearest landline phone, picked it up, and already there was no dial tone. At that second, my sense of empowerment went into overdrive and I proceeded to walk with tremendous purpose to several rooms in our house, where I enthusiastically disconnected our landline phones, put them in a plastic Hugo's grocery bag, and put the bag in a storage closet in the garage.
        My fun was just beginning, however. When my wife got home from work a few minutes later, I had her enter the living room and try to guess what was different, almost as if I'd secretly bought a new TV, painted a wall or vacuumed the rug or something.
        "The phone's gone," she said after quickly scanning the room with her eyes.
        "YESSSSSSS!!!" I said, surprising myself with my level of my excitement and, I believe, frightening her a bit.
        So why am I so jacked up about this?
        I guess it's because for years I've grown increasingly tired of spending hundreds of dollars a year on a service that only aggravated us. Our youngest son had one friend who insisted on calling our landline, but that was it. Every single important person in our lives had in recent years realized that the best way to get in touch with us was to track us down via our cell phones. Our landline phones rang every day, to be sure, but there was a 99 percent chance the person on the other end of the line was a telemarketer.
    Page 2 of 2 -     We hadn't made a long-distance call via our landline for years, yet every month we were paying a bill.
        I tried and succeeded to a degree to feel a little sympathy for the nice Century Link guy on the phone. Our conversation was recorded, of course, to monitor his level of customer service and my level of customer satisfaction, so he was required to go through Century Link's list of talking points aimed at trying to get me to reconsider. When he asked me why I was disconnecting our phone service, I could almost see him mouthing to himself my answer while I said it: "We don't use it anymore." As a last-ditch effort to retain a smidgen of our business, he pitched some sort of emergency-only line. I politely declined the offer, telling the guy that if, at the end of our call, I was still paying Century Link a single dime, it would have rendered my entire effort to disconnect useless. I think he completely understood, but he had to do what he had to do. He probably doesn’t have a landline at home, either.
        And, now, a couple months later, the most shocking development – Or it is the least shocking? – is that our life, post-landline telephone service, has continued on as if nothing changed whatsoever. Of course, if people are calling our landline and not connecting with us, we have no idea, but without a doubt the vast majority of those callers are simply trying to sell us something or get us to contribute to some charity or cause that doesn't benefit anyone from Crookston.
        And now, it’s officially official: Our new phone book arrived the other day, and we are not in it. I passed that telecommunications milestone onto our boys as I held the new “dex” directory in my hand, and their ho-hum reaction told me loud and clear that ditching our landline really is kind of a ho-hum development in today’s wireless world.
        Maybe so. But, still, the last ever call made on our landline was no less empowering. And the first month’s savings has already reaped rewards. I bought 9 gallons of gas.

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