Losing the Landline: A Rural Family Overcomes Its Hang Ups
Rural customers abandon their landline phone services for different reasons. Here’s one we hadn’t heard before.
We haven’t disconnected it yet, but before long our landline will no longer work ALL the time instead of just most of the time.
For years now, the landline has mostly not worked any time it rains, snows, or a red squirrel visits the neighborhood. Early last summer we realized the phone was out again when we went three whole days without a telemarketer robocall. It only took 10 days to get it fixed.
Then something interesting happened. One day as Bill and I were eating lunch, we saw a sheriff’s deputy pull into our driveway. We went outside to greet the officer, thinking it was probably fire department business. It wasn’t. He said Dispatch had received a 911 hang-up call from our number. When they tried calling back, the call went straight to voicemail. We never heard the phone ring, but sure enough, when we checked our messages there was their call. When they couldn’t reach us, they sent the deputy to our address.
The deputy told us it’s not uncommon for them to get calls like that when the power comes back on after an outage. And sure enough, there had been an outage that morning. (Power outages are common here at the end of the road — but that’s another story.)
We thanked the deputy for checking on us, and assured him everything was fine. He double-checked with me that everything was still fine later that day when law enforcement (him) and fire department (us) were dispatched to a car fire. And again I told him how much I appreciated the welfare check.
Fast forward a few months, and countless power outages and landline outages. It’s 2:30 am. The dog is barking furiously.
Bill got up to see what she was barking at while I fumbled for my glasses. He went toward the front door. I headed for the back door and tried to make sense of the flashing red lights I saw. When I heard Bill talking to someone at the other door, I headed that way.
There he was, in his skivvies, leaning into the wall with just his head and shoulders stretched toward the door. He was talking with not one but two deputies. The female officer was trying hard not to smile at his attempt to lengthen his neck and preserve his modesty.
Once again, there had been a power outage. Once again, when the power came back on our landline auto-dialed 911 then hung up. Once again, Dispatch tried to confirm by phone (the landline) that all was well, and their call went straight to voicemail. So once again, Dispatch sent deputies to our address for a welfare check.
And once again, we thanked them sincerely for coming out on our behalf.
After they left, Bill and I had a serious conversation about dropping our landline. And about what is wrong with us for opening the door in the middle of the night when the dog has clearly raised the domestic threat alert level to red. And about buying bathrobes.
We really appreciate that our sheriff’s deputies have a sense of humor, but don’t particularly want to test it further. So we’re losing our landline. And half a dozen telemarketer calls a day.
Donna Kallner and her husband, Bill, are members of the Wolf River Volunteer Fire Department in rural Langlade County, Wisconsin.