Free Phones – Landlines Fix Springs Service Issues

birds Cartoon by Dan Rattiner
Cartoon by Dan Rattiner

There are places in the Hamptons where cellphone service is spotty, but none are as bad as the service in Springs. Furthermore, the authorities quickly fix the situation elsewhere, but in Springs, the reverse is true.

Those in charge don’t seem to care to do that. Efforts fail. They shrug. For example, East Hampton Town Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc has the power to declare the situation an emergency, which it is, since fire and police communications are compromised or nonexistent. But he won’t do so. Too big a step for him. And he has other things he wants to attend to.

This dreadful situation has been going on for years.

Now, however, Supervisor Van Scoyoc is about to redeem himself. In a single stroke, he intends to restore phone service in Springs within a week. The plan is imaginative, stunning and remarkable.

East Hampton Town employees will deliver landline house phones free of charge to every home in Springs. Plug them into a phone jack — practically every home has unused phone jacks in their walls from the days when everybody had house phones — and you’ll be able to make and receive phone calls. Each of the 2,300 homes in Springs will get one. Problem solved.

How is Van Scoyoc able to provide these phones for free? Practically everybody in town knows about the huge financial disaster that occurred when Van Scoyoc spent millions and millions of the town’s hard-earned tax money on legal fees for a lawyer who was supposed to arrange a decrease in noise made by departing and arriving aircraft at the town-owned airport.

The effort was a complete failure. The noise today is the same it was before. Basically, the aircraft business won. Van Scoyoc has now announced he will not run for reelection.

But with the phone project, Van Scoyoc, using his great skills as a negotiator, will be solving the problem with free refurbished house phones Monday and Tuesday.

It turns out that AT&T and Verizon, when running promotions hoping to get new customers, have been taking old house phones in from prospective customers as down payments.

And it turned into a scandal. So many house phones were turned in that both Verizon and AT&T found the cost of just storing them in warehouses around the country prohibitive. And so, in secret, all these old used phones, working or broken, were taken out into the Atlantic Ocean and dumped into the sea where it was expected the phones would sink to the ocean floor far below and nobody would be the wiser.

Instead, the phones floated, and when their cords got tangled up with one another, they formed a huge island of floating house phones the size of Rhode Island. As a result, the government cracked down, fined the phone companies and forced them to retrieve the house phones and return them to their warehouses.

And so Van Scoyoc has solved their problem, and with it the Springs problem. He persuaded AT&T and Verizon to dry out these old phones, steam them free of sea life, restore them and give them away free to the people of Springs. The telephone poles are still there. The telephone lines are still there. And wires with plastic attachments on the end that click when you push them into the wall receivers are still there.

Town employees will deliver these house phones quickly to the homeowners, driving up and down the residential streets and knocking on doors. Residents won’t be able to browse through the phones in the back of the truck to pick a black one or a pink one. Each phone will be in a sealed box. Homeowners will get what they get. And if you are not home when the truck arrives, a box will be placed at your front door a la Amazon.

Van Scoyoc is looking for volunteers to put the thousands of phones into the individual boxes over the weekend. If there are not enough volunteers, the town employees will have to work overtime to do the boxing, which will take away from whatever valuable services they provide otherwise, for however long it takes.

It’s believed that Springs residents may have forgotten how to use house phones. And some young ‘uns may not know at all. So here are a few tips about them. There’s an upside. And a downside.

House phones ring loudly when someone calls so everybody hears it. That’s an upside. Anyone can rush to answer it. And everybody knows where the house phone is. It’s attached to the wall. You talk into it at one end and listen at the other end. To make a call, just lift the receiver off its hook. A dial tone indicates that the phone is on. There is no password or facial ID needed.

Another upside is that if the electricity in the house goes out, corded house phones will still work. Finally, if you don’t know a person’s number, you can dial 411 and a live operator will look it up for you. A big upside. It’s in a big book. If it’s listed. (Some people choose to have unlisted numbers.)

Among the downsides is that house phones have no screens. So no FaceTime. Also, there’s no caller ID, so if a stranger calls, you won’t know the phone numbers of whoever that is. Another downside. House phones are too big to fit in your pocket so you can’t walk around with them, other than the length of the cord to the wall.

Though house phones have keyboards, bigger keyboards than those on cellphones, they are primitive. They only have numbers, not letters. There is often static on the call, making it hard to hear the conversation. Another downside is that if you are on the phone with somebody and a second person calls, there’s no indication that’s happening.

Also, the caller only gets a “busy” signal. So their only option is to try again later.

So that’s it! Congratulations for this, Mr. Van Scoyoc. Please run for another term. We forgive you.