I called the phone company to disconnect my landline ...

OK, I’ll wait while you get it out of your system. “Gee, did you have a rotary dial? A candlestick phone? Do you have a Morse lamp? A telegraph? Gosh, you’re old!”

Done? Good. No, the reason I ...

“Did you have a sundial, as well? Do you get your water from a bucket and a well?”

Shut up. I get it. The reason I had a landline was sheer laziness. A year ago I switched to VoIP (Voice Over Internet, Poorly, or something like that) but kept the phone in case there was a very specific tornado that took out the cellphone towers.

The only people who called were telemarketers and fundraisers. So I called to disconnect, and the nice operator gave me a rate of a dime a day for three months to see if I really might want to change my mind. So I agreed.

But then I heard from no one but telemarketers and fundraisers. So I finally called to disconnect, and let me tell you: I would rather step on a bear trap and saw off my leg than go through that again, because at least when you saw off your leg, you’re in charge.

What you want: “Hi, I’d like to disconnect my phone.”

Them: “Your wish is my command. Let me press a button ... done! Goodbye.” (Click)

Here’s what actually happens (this is a fairly faithful transcription):

Me: “Hello, I’d like to cancel my phone, and before you start, there is nothing you can do to change my mind. Don’t even try.”

Link, the phone company guy: “I’m sorry to hear that. (Checks records.) Wow, you’ve had that number for 25 years. Why do you want to give it up now?”

Me: “Because no one ever called except crooks and beggars — and my mother-in-law. Now she calls our cellphones, so I can cancel the line without her thinking we moved and didn’t tell her.”

“I understand. But have you thought about 911.”

“My cellphone is able to connect me with the authorities.”

“But what if there’s a problem with the cellphone network? Severe weather can take them down, or a crisis can overload the network.”

“I get that. But every day that I walk past my phone and there’s no tornado, I realize that this thing is costing me money. It has me rooting for severe weather so I can recoup my investment. Besides, if a storm hits, I can make Wi-Fi calls.”

“Not if your power’s out.”

“Link, please. Let me go.”

“I understand. But we’re concerned about our customers’ safety. There was a lady who heard burglars downstairs, and her phone was charging downstairs, and she couldn’t call 911. We’re concerned about you having a situation like that.”

“First, I charge my phone by my bed. Second, it’s never below 40%. Third, how do you know this? Was it in her obit? ‘Old Ma Perkins would be alive today if she hadn’t canceled her landline?’ ”

“What if I gave you a whole month, free, just to make sure you still might need the phone.”

“Let me ask you this: If I put a bag of food you don’t like on your doorstep every day for a month, with the understanding that I would charge you at the end of the month for more bags of food you don’t want, would that be a good deal? Please. Let me go. It’s been a good run. No regrets.”

He was silent for a while. “How about a $100 gift card?”

“Good for what? So you can charge me $100 and I can give you the gift card back as payment?”

Link said, in a small voice, almost out of shame: “A $100 Visa card if you switch your internet.”

“Oh! The internet! I’ve heard a lot about it! No, I have internet, and it’s fast. It is eleventy gig a second. Entire 4K movies are downloaded in a nanosecond. I stream ‘Titanic’ and the ship actually sinks in 20 minutes, that’s how fast it is. Sorry. No. My life is literally ticking away here. Please. No more. ”

Pause. “OK. What if I offered ... ” And then he chuckled. “Just kidding.”

He was all out of options. I felt sorry for him. Some manager would look at the transaction and conclude that he hadn’t retained a customer, and for some stupid, unfathomable reason known only to heartless bean counters who don’t understand they are selling a dying product for which we have no use, they will blame him. Utterly unfair.

“Link, if I am ever in a war I want you in my foxhole, because you are tenacious. You do not give up. If anyone’s listening, he almost got me with the $100 gift card.”

We parted, adversaries saluting each other from rival sides of the battlefield.

Now to cancel the telegraph. I’ve tried that many times, but they keep making these irresistible offers.