Can't It Just Ring?

August 4, 2009

After all the talk of cell phones Iíve been doing, Iíve decided that whether I like it or not, I need a new phone.
†† Donít get me wrong: Itís a necessary evil no matter what. I first got this little LGÖoh, I dunnoÖthree years ago? Something like that. Itís been dunked in a pond, chewed by a puppy (still bears the little tooth marks) and otherwise abused.
†† But itís time to get something else. The ď3Ē button doesnít work too good. Sometimes I have to press itÖwell, three times to get it to work. If the emergency number was 933, Iíd be out on a limb without a paddle for sure.
†† So I went onto my service providerís Web site to see what upgrade options are available to me. I have several criteria: first and foremost, is FREE. I will not pay for a cell phone. I will not dish out good money to be called names, flagellated, talked to up close by someone with bad breath, for guacamole, sour cream, black olives, plane tickets, Aerosmith tickets or cell phones.
†† They gave me 66 options.
†† These ranged from iPhones to more simple mechanisms that looked like the kind Fred and Wilma used. They ranged in price from free to $300.
†† I have no need for an iPhone. All right, I admit a certain geeky attraction to the idea of being able to get online from anywhere, do my e-mail from anywhere, but then I slap the hell out of myself and get over it.
†† Why in the world would I want to be so connected? Author John Gierach once noted that mobile devices such as cell phones and PDAs have turned us from a nation of explorers, adventurers and pioneers into a bunch of guys standing in the feminine products aisle at the store with a phone to their ear saying, ďI donít see it.Ē
†† My cousin has an iPhone. Itís pretty cool. I like to watch him slide his finger across the screen to show me his picture albums. Do I want one? Yes, and no. I like the notion, but it fails miserably in practice, at least for me.
†† And the service fees! My goodness, I could pay a car note on what some of those plans cost. At the very least I could put in into an IRA and retire in a decade whether the stock market recovers or not.
†† These and many other phones out of my 66 options include 2-3 megapixel digital cameras, music players, video players, games, GPS, something called 3G, which I believe is an acronym for what used to be 3M, but it doesnít matter. My current phone has 3G, but the ď3Ē key is shot, so I only have intermittent service, of whatever it is.
†† What the devil is Bluetooth and why would I want such a silly thing? Sounds like some exotic form of tooth decay.
†† Gimme a break. This puppy has more storage capacity and processor speed than my desktop computer.
†† I have to have a cell phone, for various personal and business reasons beyond my control. Every third week, for instance, one of us in the newsroom is on call. At that time, I try to keep my cell phone handy all the time in case Iím needed. I donít always succeed, because I get absent-minded and accidentally leave it in the bottom drawer of my dresser under a foot-high stack of linens and an unabridged hard cover dictionary. The linens I canít do without, but if I had an iPhone, I wouldnít need the dictionary.
†† When Iím not on duty, I carry it during business hours and when Iím away from home in case I break down in the truck, but thatís it. Otherwise, itís sitting on its charger and sometimes the house phone will ring and whoever it is will say, ďWhy donít you answer your phone?Ē
†† Hereís what gets me: Iím sitting in the office, right here, with a perfectly good telephone sitting on my deskÖand my cell phone goes off. On my desk phone, I can talk in a near-whisper for a private conversation. On my cell phone I have to speak loudly so the people in the lobby can hear that I am late on my cell phone bill and will gladly pay it Friday if theyíll just be kind enough to let me slide until then.
†† The free phones are pretty plain Jane, and thatís the way I like my phones. I havenít decided which one I want next, because Iím kinda hacked off that I have to sign on for another two-year contract to get a cell phone without puppy tooth marks and a ď3Ē button that operates property (might be the algae in the pond that got in there). I hate contracts. They created cell phone contracts so that when you find out how much you hate your phone, how bad the reception is and how irritating it is when people call you while you have a perfectly good desk phone sitting 16 inches from you, youíre locked in and canít escape without ending up in federal court.
†† Sometimes people send me text messages. I seldom respond because the ď3Ē button also controls the letters D, E and F, and E of course is a vowel and highly recommended when conversing in English. Besides that, my two favorite conversation topics, my Dog and Fly Fishing, are reduced to inane gibberish and a whole lot of cussiní when I try to send a text back.
†† I do like flip cover phones because I tend to bump into things a lot and break screens. Thatís why they made them that way in Star Trek. Do you realize that? The 1960s communicators Captain Kirk and pals used was the forerunner to the cell phone. Of all the good things Star Trek foretold, that one they missed badly.
†† For a brief moment of insanity, I considered one of the phones with a full keyboard. Luckily I came to my senses quickly and reminded myself thatís just that many more keys to malfunction, and then where would I be?
†† Left alone, thatís where. Blessed silence. The world can happily move on without me and my lack of connectivity. Iíll be glad to wave it bon voyage.