Cutting the (phone) Cord by
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Prompted By Technology

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I love my iPhone (even the earliest iteration, pictured above), but even before cellular technology, just having a cordless phone was a huge leap forward for me. I remember that first big brick with the antenna. We got it when my first baby was born; it was on a little table beside the chair I sat in while nursing him. That way, I could nurse and talk without a cord tangling across his sweet face, and when I needed to change him, I could continue the conversation uninterrupted. It seems in late 1985, I spent most of my life doing those two tasks.

My iPhone has really changed my life. Now I have a computer in my hands at all times and I am in touch with the world no matter where I am (assuming we have changed our plan and signed up for International calling so those pesky roaming charges aren’t eating me alive).

When I travel within the U.S., I forward my home phone (yes, we still have a landline) to my cell phone, so I never miss a call. The apps let me see everything. I am on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, though I rarely use the latter two. I follow others rather than posting things myself. In the event we are away when a big storm comes, we can control the heating elements in our gutters remotely; we even control the volume on our TV with an app.

Everyone is just a text away. My Brazilian cleaning lady told me about WhatsApp, which I now use to communicate with all my relatives in the U.K., primarily David. One can text with it, but also send photos, video and even talk over it. And it is free!

I have stopped carrying a camera, and I love taking photos. The camera in my current phone (an iPhone 7S) is very good; I can do some editing, and can send the photo a multitude of places.

There is built-in GPS, good for driving, but also walking, which was very useful last May as I wandered alone around Venice, a lovely, labyrinth of a city, easy to lose one’s way. I would put in the address of my hotel and my phone led me home; miraculous.

Though the text is small, I can read the newspaper (I have The Boston Globe and The New York Times on my phone), and through the search functions, I can look up just about anything. After cruising with a bunch of Republicans last June, who were very into “just wanting what was in the Constitution” for our country, I decided to actually read it. So I did, on my phone, in a London hotel. It was clear that none of them had! That same hotel gave their guests a free cell phone to use during their stay. It had the hotel address programmed in. You could use it (rather than using one’s own device) to find one’s way around the city, you could even make international calls on it. We were in a deluxe room, but it is clear that this sort of amenity has become part of the package for a first class hotel.

I don’t pretend to be terribly tech-savvy, but I depend on my iPhone!

Profile photo of Betsy Pfau Betsy Pfau
Retired from software sales long ago, two grown children. Theater major in college. Singer still, arts lover, involved in art museums locally (Greater Boston area). Originally from Detroit area.

Tags: iPhone 3, not tech savvy, remote control
Characterizations: been there, right on!, well written


  1. Suzy says:

    Betsy, you really brought back memories talking about nursing while talking on a cordless phone. I remember how excited I was with my first cordless phone, probably in 1984, and how convenient it was when I had my first baby (in 1985, like you).

    I’m also impressed with all the things you do with your cell phone! I never would have thought of forwarding calls from my land line (yes, we still have one too) to my cell phone when I travel. I will have to look into that. We are all dependent on our phones these days, even those of us who have androids rather than iPhones.

    • Betsy Pfau says:

      These phones have become indispensable! I confess, we are an Apple family, though with David working at Google, he has to use one of their products. But I am sure they all have similar capabilities these days. I hate to sound like an elitist, but I am always amazed when I see someone using an old flip phone. I do understand financial pressures, but these devices are truly wonders.

  2. John Zussman says:

    Nursing David while talking on your brick-sized cordless is a lovely, pastoral image, but the one I like more is reading the Constitution on your iPhone so you could tell off your ignorant shipmates. Even Steve Jobs would be proud of this ode to your iPhone.

    • Betsy Pfau says:

      Would that I had done that, John. We were already off the ship when I read the Constitution (we only had brief internet time while cruising). But the comments about “the Constitution calls for the need for a balanced Supreme Court” came up so often over dinner that I decided to investigate myself. It was while waiting (and waiting) for that same David (no longer a baby) to come to our London hotel so we could do something fun, that I read the ENTIRE Constitution. The part about the Supreme Court is quite limited and says NOTHING about being “BALANCED” (whatever that means…there were no Democrats or Republicans when it was written)! It doesn’t even state how many justices should be on the court. Boy, those people we had dinner with have watched too much Fox (Fake) News!

  3. Great recollections, Betsy! Nursing, changing, and cordless phones! Who could ask for anything more. I’m glad to see you emerged relatively intact from your harrowing evening with a herd of GOPers! Whew! Fair, balanced, myopic, ill-informed, and — I’ll hazard a guess — probably condescending, reeking of the old cologne. There, there, now, now little lady!

    Great romp through cellular beginnings!

    • Betsy Pfau says:

      No fairness or balance with the crowd on the cruise last summer, Charlie. As wonderful as the trip was, dining with some of those folks was less so and I’ve vowed to not travel with this company again as long as the Orange Monster is in office. Too bad, because the travel company does a good job…oh well, this too shall pass, assuming we don’t face nuclear destruction! But we got a shred of hope this week in the form of Doug Jones. Maybe the tide is turning.

      Thanks for enjoying my memories.

  4. John Shutkin says:

    Just a terrific story, Betsy, with lots of evocative moments for all of us. T hat said, “nurse and talk” and “cruising with a bunch of Republicans” are not phrases that I can personally identify with. But I did have a business colleague talk about getting a cell phone provided by the hotel where she and her husband when they were in Beijing and it proved invaluable in getting them back to their hotel when they got lost — which, as I understand it, was just about every time they went out. (Amazingly, they accidentally wandered into a restaurant run by my ex-pat cousin and his wife that I had given them the address for but which they had lost. What are the odds?)
    But I digress…. I am most impressed with your wide and varied usage of your iPhone. I assumed that I was using maybe 10% of its functionality. I’m now thinking 5%, tops.

  5. Just caught this in the Missed Stories feature.
    Like you Betsy, I can’t live without to my
    phone. In fact I’ve drafted a story I’ll publish soon for the past ACCESSORIZE prompt which touches on my cell phone addiction!

    • Betsy Pfau says:

      I had to go back and re-read the story, Dana. It still holds true, though now I have an iPhone 8 (the battery on my 7 died about 15 months ago). I am having one weird problem, though, which caused an hour trip to the Genius Bar last week. I now have fancy hearing aids that are synced with said iPhone. For some weird reason, when I talk on the phone (and the sound streams through the aids, which I find vaguely annoying), it will sometimes hang up on the caller and start dialing from the top of my contact list…AAA Sparkling (my window washer), then continue on to M. Ahearn, and so on. Really annoying! My audiologist says the hearing aids can’t do that, it must be the phone. The people at Apple upgraded the software (the upgrade had just come through that day, but was mostly for the Apple Watch). They looked at the time of the last dropped call and thought it was a network problem; told me to go to AT&T and get a new SIM card! DAMN. Not gonna do it. Just annoying.

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