We’ve been relying less and less on the traditional landline phone these days. Now that everyone in the family has their own cellphone, why shouldn’t calls be naturally routed to the specfic person? Most friends and family either have those numbers or know we almost never answer the regular phone unless we hear them leaving a message on the answering machine.

I make no apologies for the messages on the answering machine. Some of them have been borderline rude, but when people and/or companies insist on trying to defeat caller ID by blocking or disguising it, I’m not going to be nice to them. Real people are willing to say who they are trying to call and wait for us to answer. The majority of the calls we get don’t bother to leave a message.

It must be the phone we have, but it has an odd quirk. When a caller comes in from outside the local area, it can display the number, but not a name, so it calls them OUT OF AREA. My twisted sense of humor finds that hilarious, and I refer to them as spatially challenged callers. I can just envision the caller as being so remote, so minimized, that they no longer have a name, just a number and become dimensionless, reduced to a point.

I don’t know why it can’t say NAME UNAVAILABLE or something like that. But, inevitably, the OUT OF AREA callers never say anything.

Occasionally, we get calls from numbers that simply say IDAHO, or NORTH CAROLINA, or some other state name. I guess the spatially challenged people can’t even be assigned a state, they are so small.

The ones with state names are usually someone calling trying to sell something, collect some debt, or other form of phone harrassment. I know who I owe money and know I’m not behind with them, so I know they aren’t looking for me. And even if I answer, they can’t tell me anything because, due to privacy laws, they can only speak to the person they are seeking. I can tell them to stop calling me and that they have the wrong number, but they don’t seem to accept that either, so I just pretty much ignore them all. If it’s that important, write a letter and mail it.

Someone I knew once worked in a collections company and told me they had phone lines that were routed through offices all over the place. If someone wouldn’t answer when called from one number, they would route the call through another office to make it look like they were another caller. I think that’s what all these state name calls are.

I have a few friends who block their caller ID. I hope they don’t mind that they have to play the answering machine game, but I’m not going to answer every unidentified call in case it’s them. Besides, they probably have my cell number.

I’ve had the same home phone number for over 30 years. I kind of hate to give it up, but I can see someday not needing a landline phone. I’m less attached to my cell number. If it ever gets to the point that it’s number gets out to too many places and I get too many annoying calls, I’ll simply change it and start from scratch. I hope they never have a cell phone directory.