It was about a month ago when my monitors were giving me all that trouble that I began thinking about unplugging from some of the things I take for granted – like my computer.

OK, so I didn’t, but I made a new and simpler filing system that’s working out well, and I made a short list of computer essentials. Unlikely I’ll stick to a list that short but it reminds me of my priorities when I’m all over the place feeling overwhelmed.

Then the clothes dryer went on the fritz a couple of weeks ago. My landlady thought she’d died and gone to hell. Last summer her husband spent a whole afternoon up a tree on a twenty foot ladder sawing branches out of the way to hang a brand new clothesline and it was down within a week. She said it didn’t work.

I’m old enough to remember how to do this. I tied a rope between two trees and slung some wet clothes over it. It works like a charm. When the top batch dries it blows onto the ground and the next layer down has its chance. By the end of the day all the clothes are on the ground and they’re dry.

I remember clothespins, too, although I don’t presently own any. I’m also old enough to remember when the ones with springs came on the market to replace the peg type that went straight down and left deep ridges in all your shirts and towels and everything. The ‘new and improved’ ones were even worse for that but, of course, we used irons in those days.

While I was analyzing what else computer technology has done to my life, my monthly phone bill arrived with the charge inched up a few more percentage points from the month before. Now over $80. That’s half for my land-line and half for the Internet. Month after month I gag and pay it.

Something about this had been niggling at my mind for awhile but I kept ignoring the niggling. Today, while my landlord was hooking up the new gas dryer, we got into a conversation about it. It turns out it’s not necessary to have a phone account with the company who supplies my Internet connection. Of course, I understand that my Internet access is not dependent on the phone line, but for some dumb reason (because my modem is hooked into the same outlet as the telephone) I assumed there was a connection. There actually isn’t.

I don’t mind having a land-line. It’s an improvement over the telegram and I remember those too. But out of every 50 calls I receive 49 of them are from telemarketers. So I’ve been paying the phone company $40/month for years and years to be on the receiving end of telemarketing aggravation. In 10 years that’s a down-payment on a small house. You’ve got to wonder sometimes where you left your head.

Within minutes I was downtown buying a Pay-As-You-Go cellphone. Last year I bought a Tracfone for travel in the U.S. but those don’t work in Canada. Same as the Canadian variety don’t work in the U.S.

A $50 phone came with a 134-page user manual. After two hours of squinting through the first 20 pages I gave up. This will probably come as a shock to the techno-geeks of the world but I just need a phone, not another bleeding-edge computer. If I can turn the damn thing on and off I’m good to go. For $10/month I have 33 minutes of air-time. That should be enough to field any legitimate calls and tell them I’ll call back from Skype. I have unlimited calling on Skype to the U.S. and Canada for $8.52 every three months.

What was $50/month for a phone (including long distance which I already killed awhile back) is now down to $13. For another $5/month I can purchase an online number from Skype and have all cellphone calls re-routed through my computer. Making progress …

2 thoughts on “Unplugged

  1. Ginger Smith

    I don’t have a landline either, but now I have to pay higher internet costs. Did they increase your internet costs when you cancelled your landline?

    1. JL Post author

      I don’t know how much yet, but I think it’s likely. When I bought the phone the salesman was not particularly forthcoming with information but one thing he mentioned, under his breath, was that without a landline there would be a ‘small’ increase in my Internet cost. I just got my July15-August 15 bill and the Internet/Phone split is not 40/40 as I thought. It’s more like 45/35. So, maybe it will go to 50? Maybe I’ll get a refund for the month because I no longer have a landline?

      At this point, theoretically, I’m at least $30/month ahead. That can’t take it all, can they?

      Although I eventually found my way to my online account where a lot of information is available, I have yet to come across a simple fee schedule. How much does it cost to email a photograph? What is the cost of a multimedia message? What is the cost of voicemail?

      He told me I have a limit of 3 messages in my voicemail box and checking my voicemail costs airtime. Even if it takes 10 seconds I’ll still be charged for one minute. My landlady, who has had a similar phone for two years, says there’s no charge for voicemail. So, who’s right? I called the salesman 3 days ago asking for an answer to that and haven’t heard back. In the meantime, I have not set up a voicemail account to avoid spending my $10/month deleting telemarketers.


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