As I was leaving work today, I stopped to see a friend. I placed my cell phone on her desk so I’d have my hands free to get my keys out of my purse. We chatted for a moment and I got ready to go.
“Don’t forget this!” she said, handing me my cell phone.
I laughed. “I’d miss it in the car!” I exclaimed.
“Yeah,” she said, “I don’t know what we ever did without them!”
That gave me pause. Being 59, I do know what we did without them, and yet I freely admit I’d be lost without my cell phone, and it’s not because I’m having great phone conversations as I drive home....well, with the exception of Friday nights, when I often put my Bluetooth headset in my ear, head for the longer, slower route, and call Dave, my baby brother. But that’s once a week. The rest of the time, my cell phone provides security by simply being there, unused, within easy reach. I commute over a hundred miles a day, and thanks to cell phones, if there’s a problem, help is just a phone call away. I find that incredibly reassuring.
It wasn’t always like this. In July, 1984 I drove across the country with my girls, who were then 8 and 5. Not only did I not have a cell phone, but I was driving a rather battered VW Diesel Rabbit with a zillion miles on the engine, old tires, no AC and no radio. As I remember, we drove with the windows down and sang every song we knew, and we managed to have a good time in spite of everything, but if the car had broken down at any point in that trip, we’d have been dependent on the kindness of strangers.
And yet as much as I love my cell phone for the security it provides, I have sympathy for those who complain that cell phones are responsible for, or at the very least have contributed to the growth of, all sorts of new boorish behaviors, including the idea that it’s perfectly alright to call anyone, anytime, anywhere…
But wait a minute…wasn’t that the idea in the first place? After all, the first words uttered into a telephone were, "Mr. Watson, come here, I want you."
Ah, well...the more things change, and all that...