March 26th, 2004

Cell Phones

“Boy, we have gone nuts with the phones, haven’t we?” – Jerry Seinfeld, I’m Telling You for the Last Time

Everybody’s got cell phones these days. People have flip phones, phones with keyboards, phones with cameras, phones with wireless gaming, phones with smaller phones in them…

Okay, maybe not that last one, but it’s coming.

We all want anyone to be able to reach us at anytime. I want the public library to be able to contact me about an overdue book when I’m in Kansas. Are my pictures developed? Call me while I’m drivng to Wal-Mart for cat food. Your wife just have a baby? Call me at 2:30 a.m. (Congrats to Aundrea and Josh on the birth of Landon, BTW!) Call me anytime, anyplace – I’ve got a cell phone!

It’s amazing, really, these little technological marvels. Almost anywhere you go in America nowadays you can get at least enough signal strength to be able to tell the person on the other end “I can’t hear you! You’re fading in and out!!” But for the most part, coverage is good, and something beats nothing, right?

It used to be people would check for messages as soon as they walked in the door. Now we wait for the little signal beeps from our cell phones to tell us “Hey, while you were ‘out of area’ or on another call 4 hours ago, someone called and left a message. I didn’t feel like telling you until just now, though.” And, of course, cell phones have given rise to the new saddest words in the English language: “You have no new messages.”

Most cell phones have the little screen that tells you who is calling, too. Portable Caller ID. What a great invention. The screen generally only shows the number, but if you save the number you can call it whatever you want so when your crazy second-cousin calls, the screen could say “Do Not Answer!!!!!”

I think a lot of problems in sit-coms could have been avoided if they’d had cell phones. Gilligan’s Island is a natural first thought, but I’m talking about as recently as Seinfeld. The only time I remember anyone using a cell phone in Seinfeld was the last episode when Elaine was doing the “cell phone walk-and-talk.” And do I even need to mention how much smoother everything would have been if Mr. Ed would have had his own horse-sized cell phone?

Some people gripe about other people’s cell phone usage – in restaurants, walking around, in lines, etc. Not me. I’m nosey by nature, so I love overhearing conversations. I think that there are timesyou ought to shut the phones off, of course. Church, plays, theaters – these are “cell phone free” zones, people.

The only problem I really have with cell phones is that mine is never good enough. My current model has a stupid keypad that only works occasionally, but I really like the color screen and I like the bowling game that came with it. If I get a new phone, can I be assured of the bowling game? I’d love to have a camera on my phone, and a keyboard would be nice, but I also want it to be small… I’m a forever-unsatisfied consumer.

I’m a big fan. Want some peace and quiet? Turn your phone off. Want to be depressed about how few calls you get? Leave your phone on. It’s all good.

Leave a Reply