Thank you all for coming. We've gathered here today to mourn the unfortunate, though perhaps not untimely, passing of a friend. There is no person in this room whose life wasn't touched by the landline phone. If there's any comfort to be found in our loss, it's in the knowledge that the home phone has long been suffering. Still, that may not be enough to assuage the anguish of watching the landline in its gruesome battle with the cellular telephone, which over time stripped the home phone of its constituency, dignity and finally, its spirit. We all saw it coming, but few were prepared.
Like most of you, I've lived all my life with a home phone. As of last week I had a phone, but not a home. Now I have a home but not a home phone. It's a startling transition, but as distraught as we may be over this tragedy, it's imperative that we maintain our composure and adjust to the new cell phone environment. The era of the local number grows closer to an end with every cellular nomad that moves haphazardly from city to city, bringing their original area code with them. Propagating this wanderlust is the tendency of cell-phone users to rely exclusively on their phone's address book, further decreasing any need we've ever had for the near-vestigial "'memory.' And this trend can only worsen: cell phone dependency may become an epidemic.
Even if every home phone in America was buried beneath an avalanche of number-bearing Post-Its and Scotch-taped scraps, we at least didn't have to worry about dropping our home phones into the toilet and losing an entire address book. Well, some of you might have. But the risk was lessened. These newfangled, projectile-shaped cell phones are far more injury prone and expensive, with average prices running around $75 for a phone purchased with a contract extension and $17,000 for one without. So please, take proper precautions, lest you complement your emotional woes with financial ones.
At this point, let's turn our focus to those that are most affected by the passing. Keep telephone service providers in your thoughts. They face the most daunting obstacle of all, one that seems progressively more insurmountable with every new class of cell-phone doting, landline loathing college graduates. But you have to give them credit for trying. AT&T, once an icon of telecommunications, is focusing on a desperate integration of voice and broadband. MCI is making an admirable attempt at discounted long distance with its 10-10-220 service, though in our minutes-as-currency society, $0.99 long distance can't compare to "free" long distance of cell phones. Frontier is dubiously shifting into online poker. To gamble, not provide. So wish them the best.
I'd like to offer my deepest condolences to a group that is taking the transition especially hard: "old" people, rest assured that someday, you will understand. You will understand why no one knows anyone's number by memory, even their parents'. You will understand that when a conversation cuts out mid-sentence, it's not an act of disdain or contempt, but rather just a "dropped call." You will also understand that "dropped call" is not a reference to drugs or baggy pants. The same goes for you, old-school small business owners with computers and employees that can't handle ten-digit phone numbers. Do not let such advances confuse you. You will move on.
We should all use this tragedy as an opportunity for earnest reflection. Is the cell phone a symbol of our society, representing the lack of foundation and instability in our lives? Or is it the opposite that a portable, permanent number will foster increased productivity and closer personal relationships? If we can take anything away from this casualty, it should be an increased awareness of the developments in this world and the ramifications they may have for those that we love.
Now, before we close, I have one final request. As emotionally charged and ironic as it may be, I'd like a moment of silence for the landline phone.
If anyone needs to talk after the service, you know how to reach me.