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Oh, how I miss the busy signal

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Boy, have times changed.

All these phones — which, by the way, cost well over $200 dollars a month — and no one answers.

Last week, I needed to talk to my recently licensed-to-drive daughter, whose cellphone was out of commission and who was reluctantly using my husband’s cellphone. But nobody was picking up there or at home. I couldn’t reach anything — not even the voicemail.

By the time she returned my gazillionith phone call, several more grey hairs had sprouted and I was hyperventilating.

Her excuse was matter of fact: “I was in the store and I didn’t take dad’s phone with me.”

“Why?” I asked.

“Because it’s dad’s phone, not my phone, and I was only in the store for 20 minutes,” she answered. “I’m on my way now, so don’t panic.”

That’s easy for her to say.

But the house phone still didn’t pick up, so where was my husband? The mystery was soon solved when I arrived home to discover that the house phone had no dial tone and was as dead as Dillinger.

Now, Verizon prides itself on keeping us all connected, so I used my cellphone to connect to their 24-7 service number.

Have you ever tried to “connect” with Verizon after “normal” working hours? After approximately a half hour of pushing one for “yes,” two for “no,” and requesting that the information be in English, I was finally connected to a real live, breathing, human being. A Christmas miracle.

Of course, within seconds, that person put me on hold. What a surprise.

The line was tested and I was informed that everything appeared to be OK. The voice advised that I should check all the extensions in the house, disconnect and reconnect them, and, if that didn’t work, a repairman would have to make a house call which, of course, is not free.

Does anyone remember the days when Ma Bell, before demonopolization, made house calls for free and there was always a live person answering the phone?

So I did what the voice suggested and still — no dial tone.

It was now time to involve my husband, who couldn’t care less if we never had a phone. After all, he was in the house since 2 pm, blissfully unaware of the phone’s status.

“Don’t worry, it’s probably just a glitch in the wires,” he advised. “It’ll start working soon.”

Unfortunately, soon turned out to be 3 am.

The house was all quite, no noise could be heard, not a creature was stirring not even one word, when all of a sudden there arouse such a noise, that I jumped out of bed and said WTF?

The phone connected itself and there was a beep, beep, beep echoing from the basement. I ran down the stairs, pushed the speaker button, which was apparently left on when I disconnected and reconnected hours earlier. Thankfully the beeping stopped. However, when I picked up the receiver to test the dial tone there was such a racket of static that I could barely hear it. But at least it was working, I thought.

As I sit at my desk in the office vainly trying to reach my house, I think, Not for Nuthin, but reaching out and touching someone used to be a lot easier than this — and a lot cheaper too.

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