Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Take My Phone....Please

I have a new cell phone. It's a Sprint phone. I chose Sprint for one simple reason: Sprint sponsors the NASCAR Sprint Cup series and I can watch the races on this phone. I can do lots of other things on it too because it features all the latest high-tech bells and whistles. Every time I've bought a new phone, I've upgraded to one that allows me to perform all the new, cool functions although I never learned how to perform the old, cool functions on my previous phones - so now I just have the capability of more things I don't know how to do.

Here are things I've never done on a cell phone -

I've never taken a picture, except once, accidentally, of my car's steering wheel.

I've never texted. First, I'm confounded by a keyboard with keys approximately the size of a molecule. Second, I'm not hip enough to know the texting lingo and third, even if I managed to compose a message I wouldn't know where to send it.  Do you use the same phone number as the cell phone of the party you're texting? What are those 5 digit number they advertise on t.v. to vote for your favorites on Dancing with the Stars or to make a contribution to Haiti Relief (probably soon to be Oil Spill Relief)? I've neither voted nor donated via cell phone.

I've never Twittered (Tweeted? Same thing?)

I've never connected to Facebook. I've not yet thought of a reason why I'd want to.

I've never GPSed to see where I am or where I'm going. Usually, I know where I'm going (although, not always).

I've never changed either the ring tones or the screensaver on my phone. I just live with whatever was programmed at the cell phone factory (which I assume is in China).

I've never checked to see what is happening with the stock market (I don't care because I don't own any stocks).

I've never had any desire to read a book or draw a picture on a screen as big as a postage stamp.

I've never downloaded my e-mail. I have a desk top and a laptop at work. I have a desk top and laptop at home. I use the laptops when I'm on the road. I already have enough options for getting my e-mail. I'm not one of those people who feel lost if they don't receive an alert the second a new e-mail comes in. Hardly any of my messages are urgent. In fact, most of them are eminently ignorable.

I've never made or answered a cell phone call when I'm driving.

I've never played a game. I always have a book with me for those boring times when I'm forced to wait somewhere.

I've never checked weather or traffic conditions. I'm one of those old-fashioned people who prefer a little unpredictability in life. It's more fun not to know everything in advance.

The truth is, I don't even like to talk on a cell phone. They aren't comfortable. The old ones were like talking on a brick. The new ones are like talking on a credit card. They don't nestle comfortably against your ear like "real" phones. And land line phones don't pass on part of their responsibility to you. They don't punish you by sulking if you forget to put them on the charger. They don't require a signal so that they're working fine one mile and casting you in cell hell the next. Land line phones don't limit you to minutes or regions. They don't distinguish between incoming and outgoing. They don't charge you extra if they have to roam.

I know all this is generational. To me, a cell phone is an alien being. I approach it warily, as one would a strange dog who might decide either to lick you or bite you. I use it for passing on necessary information - "I'm going to be late getting home, so don't worry". "I have a flat tire on Dora Road, just past the Bethel Church." "Will you check and see if I unplugged the iron?"

For the younger girls at work, their cell phones are practically extensions of their bodies. They don't so much as go to the bathroom without them. Either the phones are glued to their ears or their fingers are flying on the itsy keyboards. (If I owned a company, I would not allow my employees to use their cell phones at work on the grounds that that's my time and cell phones are immense time-wasters and plus our insurance is going to be paying for mass cases of Carpel Tunnel a decade from now). They text one another jokes, keep in constant touch with their Facebook friends, change their ring tones to reflect their mood that day, feature pictures of their kids as their screensavers.

I have negative feelings about cell phones because of their inconsiderate users too. They hold up the check out line, fumbling with their money because their hands are tied up talking on their phones. They jam up the traffic line because they're so engaged in their phone conversation, they don't notice that the light turned green. Their kids run amuck in the waiting room at the doctor's office while they are pecking away at their baby keyboards. They force everyone else to become a partner in their irritatingly, inane conversations as if they don't realize they aren't in a sound-proof cubicle.

I only plan on giving my new cell phone number to my six closest friends....because I don't want to be bothered getting lots of phone calls. I only want to learn to watch the races. Then I'll probably retire the owner's manual to the file that contains the unread manuals from all my previous phones.