LSS: Re-inventing the wheel (or telephone cord, as the case may be)

Every home mucks its way through trials and tribulations.

Some problems come on quickly, cause chaos and are resolved.

Others linger.

And some troubles are ongoing.

For years.

My home has been struggling with a chronic situation for far too long.

Here are the basics:

Between the four of us, when the phone rings, we can not find a telephone.

Oh, we have plenty. We have four, in fact, with transferrable cradles. There’s a calling system for the lost handsets. There’s no reason we shouldn’t be able to find a phone in our home, but often, we cannot.

Or, if we find one — it’s dead.

Much like solving the riddle of the Sphinx or figuring out cold fusion, a solution seems impossible. Even still, we all keep figuring ways and schemes to solve this problem.

Two weeks ago, my 12-year-old daughter had a eureka moment. She ran to my room and said, “Mom, I’ve got it. I know how we can always find a phone.”

She went on to explain her idea.

“What if we were able to attach one of the handsets to the base — with a cord of some sort? That way, the phone would always be in the same place,” she said. “We would know where it was. When it rang, we would just go to that same spot.”

She was serious.

And, she was right.

It was a simple solution to our problem.

It was the same solution that never made my family’s current problem an issue for the home where I grew up. The only cradles were for babies. And, the only problem that ensued with our phone was untangling the cord — or not being able to reach the sink or stove while we talked.

It was a do-one-thing-at-a-time time.

Cordless phones were not the first step in double tasking, but they certainly changed things, didn’t they? Suddenly, we could wash dishes and talk on the phone at the same time. We could watch television and talk.

Or could we?

With convenience comes a price, and sometimes that price is too high. The kind of telephone that I used growing up could be used within a certain radius. In so many ways, there were definite parameters back then — parameters my own children have never known and, unconsciously, may seek. From cordless phones, we went to cell phones.

We are always reachable these days.

When the pendulum swings, sometimes it swings too far.

Perhaps that always-reachability, always-can-you-hear-me-now isn’t a good thing. Are that many of us really that indispensible? Where will the counter balance take upcoming generations? What will they develop to make order of lives with so much portability that things get lost or bothered, sometimes creating more confusion?

The solutions and implications go beyond a 12-year-old who’s never seen a phone with a cord coming up with “a great idea.”

Jan Risher’s column, Long Story Short, appears on Sundays. She can be reached at

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