Despite all the conveniences afforded by modern technology, it’s hard to work and communicate with co-workers and clients when you cannot use a telephone. I’ve found this out on numerous occasions when I’ve decided to work from home. That’s because I live in St. Charles County and must abide by an antiquated toll-call rule.
If I use my phone (636 area code) to call the office (314 area code), I must pay a long-distance charge. If I call a client, that’s another charge. If I check my voice mail, another one. But that’s just the simple version of what’s going on. It gets more complicated.
To understand just how absurd and confusing the 636 and 314 area code situation is for my home phone, think about this:
• I can use my home phone to call my mother-in-law, whose house is 45 minutes away in Eureka.
• I cannot, however, call my best friend, who lives 12 minutes away in Maryland Heights.
• I can call our dog’s groomer across the Missouri River in Chesterfield using my home phone.
• But I cannot call the office, which is just one ZIP code away from Chesterfield.
So I can call 636 numbers, but I cannot call 314 numbers. OK. I get that. But how come I can use a 314 number and call some 636 numbers? For example, I can use my work phone to call my house. And I can use my work phone to call Chesterfield numbers. I cannot, however, use my work phone to call the 636 number of my colleague Christi, who lives out in wine country. How absurd is that?
Further complicating matters, my cell phone is equipped with just 150 peak minutes – the plan is cheap, what can I say – so that’s not an option other than for calls under 2-3 minutes. (And friends and family, that’s why I often call you at 8:01 p.m. – I’m waiting for the free minutes to kick in.)
It’s easy to understand why there’s such a divide between St. Louis and St. Charles counties. The area codes act as a steel-built wall, keeping communication from flowing freely in between these two neighboring areas. How can a company expect to provide great client service to clients when you can’t even call them? St. Louis, St. Louis County and St. Charles County are considered part of the same region, so why not open up the telephone lines?
The absurdity of this area code situation is just too much for me. So the other day, when I was thinking about working from home but realized I had several calls to make, I just drove in and worked at the office. Why complicate matters that are already too complicated to understand.