Monday, August 22, 2011
Telephone Man, uh, I Mean Woman
I recently decided to get a home phone. I was threatening to go over my cellphone minutes and it worked out to be less expensive to get a landline than to upgrade my cell plan. Such is modern life.
The phone guy came to install the phone. He made kind of a big deal about having to drill through the wall to run in the cable, so we agreed to hook the phone up to the internet box. That meant the phone had to live in a cabinet, which was not that big a deal for me. In fact, I kind of enjoyed the Green Acres/Funny Farm echo of having a non-standard telephone experience.
I had purchased a basic phone for the occasion. I had not purchased the batteries the phone required for caller i.d. The day after the installation, I changed to a longer cord (to reach the couch from the cabinet, natch) and installed the batteries. Guess what? No dial tone.
Several sessions of on-line help followed, without success. Finally a quality control person was dispatched to fix the problem. He explained that it wasn't a big deal to drill the wall, and that doing so would allow every phone jack in the entire residence to work. Imagine! A phone anywhere in the house! That suddenly seemed rather attractive.
I also decided I wanted the phone to hang on the wall in the kitchen. Apparently no one does this anymore. Once they got the connection going, the quality control guy and his partner were stymied by the fact that the slots on the back of the phone appeared to be upside down. Luckily, I remember the days of wall phones and discovered how to flip a removable piece, which solved that problem.
Then the screws on the jack didn't fit into the slots on the back of the phone, so they added an extra screw to hang the phone on. I appreciated their effort and the fix worked fine until they left, whereupon it fell off the wall.
Fortunately, I also remembered that hooking up a phone used to be a one-plate-fits-all experience. Apparently it still is, when you know what you're doing. A trip to Home Depot produced a $6.00 fix: a proper wall plate with the right kind of screws. After I installed that, the phone snapped onto it with such vigor that I could probably do pull-ups on it if I needed to.
It kind of surprises me that the phone guys had no idea how that all was supposed to work. I guess my status as a technology dinosaur has been confirmed, yet again. Not that there's anything wrong with that. I definitely enjoyed solving the problem myself. Where else would I find that kind of satisfaction for only six bucks?