Friday, June 6, 2008

One More Rant About Cel Phones

My husband and I had an argument the other day. This is nothing new…we argue quite a lot these days. We are both so tired, so overwhelmed and so frustrated. Who better to take out negative emotion on than your life partner? J

The argument du jour was about my cel phone.

Once upon a time, I needed a cel phone. I had a small business that took me hither and yon to events all over northwest Oregon. The phone was an essential tool for keeping in touch with the husband and my sisters (who constituted my work force.) I was forever having to make arrangements to meet so-and-so at such-and-such an event, and then track them down once we arrived. And then I needed to make calls for lodging reservations, or repair issues, or any number of things which demanded that I have a phone at my immediate disposal.

I carried my phone on my person at all times. It hung from my belt as I slung quarter-ton pieces of restaurant equipment in and out of the trailer. It lived in my purse, which got stashed and squashed wherever I could hide it while we were doing an event. It sat in the ash tray of the truck as I made my way over the highways and byways. Eventually, it literally fell apart from being smashed, stashed, hung, bashed, dropped and trashed. By the time I traded it in after its two years of faithful service, it was held together with rubber bands and electrical tape.

I got a new phone in 2006, just as my life underwent a major metamorphosis. I’m no longer an itinerant food vendor; I command a real restaurant with an actual permanent location. Gone are the days when nobody knew exactly where I was at any given time, and the cel phone was the go-to communication tool. And it’s a good thing…because the new phone has proven to be an absolute piece of crap. It gets terrible reception, it drops calls, sometimes it doesn’t bother to ring at all. And it has lately developed this malady where it suddenly loses contact with its battery and goes dead. I’ve taken to calling it the "pocket rock," because it is exactly as useful as a rock, most of the time.

Our particular phone plan allows for new hardware every two years. So I am eligible, now, to get a nice discount on yet another phone. Husband insists that I run right out and get that phone. And I could not care less. I HATE cel phones. At this point, I’m seriously considering declaring "Conscientious Objector" status when it comes to owning one.

What the hell good are they, anyway? First of all, though cel phones have been in use for—what…twenty years?—the technology has never been perfected. Why should it be? We, the consuming public, don’t demand that the things perform as promised. We just lap up the next mutation as soon as it’s available. The folks who make these things know they don’t actually have to work to sell. They just have to be the sexiest, newest toy on the market. So I’ll pay one hundred, two hundred, no…three, maybe even five hundred bucks for this wonderful little device that will take photos, play music, display video games, show movies, compute gratuities, do everything but cook breakfast for me. But I’m still hanging out of open windows or ducking out onto the sidewalk in the rain hollering into it, "Can you hear me NOW ?"

Why can’t it just BE a telephone? Or at least a passable imitation of one?

The technical foibles alone should be enough to have us doing what one normally does with a piece of crap (***floooosh***…bye-bye!) But then there are the ring tones. Who knew there were quite so many supremely annoying pieces of music to be had? Of course, even the "Hallelujah Chorus" sounds like hell digitized and blaring at top volume from somewhere in the vicinity of the ass of the guy in front of you at the Wal-Mart check-out. The other day, I heard a ring tone that was a loud, obnoxious laugh… like something from a sleazy joke store at the mall. I could not believe someone chose as his signature sound something that stupid and irritating.

Cel phones have turned us into a society of ill-mannered, self-absorbed, careless, thoughtless communication junkies. We cannot be alone with our own thoughts; nor can we be with the people we are with. Sales clerks, waitresses, service people of any kind are made acutely aware that they are not worthy of our full attention. Friends, spouses, parents and kids all suffer the indignity of hanging on the periphery while the obviously more important conversation takes place with whoever is on the phone. People talk—or, heaven forbid, text—while driving. It’s like, you lay hands on that little silver box and it just sucks the brains right out of you.

Well, I’m sorry… I don’t want to play. These days, I am almost always either at the restaurant or at home trying to rest up for my next stint at the restaurant. Both the cafe and my home have phones. If I’m not at home or at work, I’m generally with my husband or one of my sisters…and they all have cel phones. If by some off-chance I am somewhere where I can not be reached, I am most likely out of touch by choice. There are times when one just needs to be alone; cel phones have turned us into a nation of co-dependents. It’s unhealthy to always be just a few beep-bip-boops away from someone else. It’s weak, it’s scary, and it’s…sick. I can’t buy into that any more.

So, I told the husband, here’s the thing: I’m going to approach the cel phone issue the same way I deal with religion. You believe what you believe, and I’ll believe what I believe. You don’t tell me I have to have a cel phone, and I won’t tell you you shouldn’t have one.

I don’t know if I made my point…but I’m still not getting a new phone.


  1. Like I said over at Women On .... :)

  2. Joe just bought anew cell phone when his moto went dead. Two weeks ago I took the battery from my moto and gave it to him because one of his major complaints was the short battery time. I asked, "did you remove the battery before donating it?"...silence, "Oh I am so sorry'....I had to figure out how to access his voice mail. For about five days he had not a clue. Men...what you gonna do? As for me, I mourned the loss of my other moto that the grandbaby threw across the room. I was laughing until I realized it was MY phone and not my step sons! Yikes. I really do not like phones nor talking on them since I was a receptionist and the phone never stopped ringing! I avoided cell phones until I could not longer not have one due to work. Still,  cell phones can do everything but make coffee anymore.

  3. I'm with you on this rant.  I don't have one and don't want one.

  4. Thank you, thank you! This latest generation has a hard time believing we used to leave home without having that particuliar attatchment. We used to be polite to one another too, after all we had someones full attention. I never understood how someone can't possible go for a few hours without having to talk to someone on the phone. You don't need to have a phone conversation while grocery shopping, in a restaurant, driving, etc...My biggest annoyance is the parents that take the damn thing to the park with them, and sit there yakking away instead of shutting it off and spending that quality time with their kid (who by the way is looking at mommy and daddy wistfully wishing they would play with them)...(Hugs)Indigo

  5. I only use mine for outgoing calls, usually if I am traveling.  Friends nor family have the number.  I just wish I could get a phone without bells, whistles and cameras.

  6. OMG OMG.... This whole rant has me cracking up.  I soooo agree with you!  I feel like smashing all the phones (and computers) some days...not because I don't use them.  You know my life but because I would really just like to sit down and have a real conversation instead of typing it, texting it or calling it.

    I was the techno queen at one time....  I had to have every new gadget that came out.  Learn every new software program.  (can you hear *climb every mountain* playing in my head with new words?).  I miss porches and neighbors who knew your cousin too.  I miss coffee meets in the kitchen where people just walked in your back door and helped themselve's while shouting "hey are you up yet?" (yeah even in the ghetto we unlocked our doors in the daytime and our pals came in).  I miss touching and hugging.  

    Now we don't have time for anything but a call or an email.  Whatever happened to real life?