Can you conceive of a civilization where no one is ever considered unreachable?
Oh. Right. Forgot.
Apparently, I’m the only person now residing on Planet Earth who intends never, ever to hear her purse ring while she’s interviewing, say, the Dalai Lama. No doubt His Holiness would pause courteously in the midst of revealing the solutions to all that ails us, so that the significant other calling me direct from the supermarket aisle might pose an equally crucial riddle of life: “Scott or Charmin?”
I’m convinced we live in a world where, shortly, “I’m in labor” won’t constitute enough of a reason to turn your cell off. We’ve probably already lost, “I’m riding the perfect wave on my first vacation in 25 years. You want to know where which file is at the office?”
The irony here is that, until cell phones came along, I would have been voted Most Likely to Be on a Mobile Phone During Her Every Waking Moment. That’s because if I ever came across a job listing, casting call, house for sale, store for rent, potential paramour, I’d immediately search for the nearest pay phone. A friend or acquaintance would have popped into my mind as the perfect candidate. How could I wait even a moment before passing along the contact info?
I must have inherited an agent gene from some ancient ancestor.
This condition led to such scenes as: Me in a restaurant’s vestibule with only a public phone and a pile of coins for company. The friends I’d traveled to meet for dinner? Sitting inside, ordering, feasting, catching up on old news, and, oh yes, every now and then sending out a search party to check for the latest on my whereabouts.
One astute acquaintance described me (lovingly, I trust) as having been born with a silver receiver in my mouth.
I’m still doing it, but, darn it, by pay phone. Actually, since they’re rapidly evaporating, I often wait till I get home to that equally endangered species – my land line.
Here’s the riddle: Where did all these phone lovers come from? Back when “cellular” was a word we heard only in biology class, hordes never raced me to the nearest pay phones. Nope. I used to be a rare breed. Who cast the spell that makes everyone certain no time is a bad time to be on the phone?
More puzzling: How come I, of all people, disdain those ubiquitous, shrinking communication devices that can now do everything but your laundry? My theory: They’re too popular. If someone had presented me with one as a rarity,I might have been far more intrigued.
Just the other day, the impact of cell phones, even on me, hit home. I was glad home was where it hit, rather than smack into several of my vital organs. It occurred as I was walking along in my small, charming town. I was crossing the street – at the light, I hasten to add – when I was nearly plowed into by a suddenly appearing Suburban. Its driver’s placid expression did not change, even as she perused the hair’s worth of space between me and her front bumper. I would have appreciated a look of shock, guilt, apology, splashed across her placid visage. Unfortunately, her expression was already occupied by deep concentration toward the conversation she was having on her cell.
As I calmed my heart rate enough to make it to the opposite curb, I wondered whether I should flag down the police car I now spotted coming down the street. I wished to inquire how much effort was currently being directed toward enforcement of that No-Hand-Held-Phones-While-Driving law.
Unfortunately, the policeman in question had one hand on the wheel, the other at his ear to hold his phone. I figured it wasn’t the best time to disturb him.
And so I carry on, looking both ways with added zeal.
What’s that? Oh. You’re curious as to whether I own a cell. Well, my goodness, of course I do. What a question.
However, the ring, vibrator, flashing light — all turned off. And nobody has the number, least of all me. I can never remember it. Still, I usually bring the gizmo along. I’m perfectly willing to concede that it could come in handy in cases of emergency – that is, if they occur far from signs of human life or public phones. Naturally, that’s assuming I’ve remembered to bring the darn thing with me.