By Land or by Cell

By Land or by Cell


I used to think that the only thing our landline was good for was getting calls from people we refused to give our cellphone numbers to. Then we got rid of it. And now I know what my old-fashioned phone was really good for: Helping me find my cellphone.

The upside of a cellphone is it can go anywhere. And the downside of a cellphone is it can go anywhere. And mine does—all the time.  

Earlier today, I wandered from room to room talking on my phone and now I’m wandering from room to room looking for it. Back when I had a landline, I’d pick up my old-fashioned telephone, call my cellphone, then walk around the house listening until I heard its pathetic cries from my purse or the laundry basket or the garbage can.

Now how will I find it? Run to the neighbors, ask them to call, then run back home and hope I find my phone before it stops ringing? 

Oh sure, my old cordless phones used to wander away too. I even had an affectionate nickname for them. I called them “walk-around phones” when I could find them and “walk-away phones” when I couldn’t, which was fairly often.

 But we had them all over the house so when one walked away, I just picked up another one or pushed the locator button on the base. Locator button or not, we haven’t seen one of our cordless receivers in years.

Still, even if we misplaced all three of them, we could always count on our ancient, ever-faithful, baby-blue, princess rotary phone in the basement. That never went anywhere because neither did we when we were using it. 

Back when we had a landline, we could hear the phone ringing all over the house at any time of the day or night, dinner or naptime. It drove me crazy, especially since most of the time it was just the IRS or Elizabeth from the Resort Rewards Center calling.

But now that I’m down to one phone and it could be anywhere, I don’t always hear it ringing at all, especially if I’ve set it to vibrate, which I’m very responsible about doing—usually right after it rings in the middle of a meeting or a church service.

Consequently, while a higher percentage of the callers who call my cellphone are legitimate, I rarely know they’re calling when I’m at home. These days, you’re more likely to catch me if I’m out.

Suddenly I’m missing our old landline. I loved that it always worked. A smartphone is only as smart as the person responsible for charging it.

And mine isn’t always that smart when it’s charged. I once spent an hour and a half on my old-fashioned telephone talking to an Apple support person because my smartphone decided I was a thief and locked me out. What will I do if that happens now?

And my landline was easy. I have a hard time making appointments when the phone I’m using to make them is also my calendar. Call me old-fashioned, or maybe call me uncoordinated.

Anyway, all the people that used to bother me on my landline are now bothering me on my cellphone. Elizabeth, the IRS and the fake grandkids have all managed to find my cellphone. Maybe I will too. 

(Dorothy Rosby is the author of several humor books, including I Used to Think I Was Not That Bad and Then I Got to Know Me Better. Contact