I hate to expose myself as a dinosaur, but I’m not a kid anymore and it’s probably time to take on the mantel of cranky old age. I hate cell phones. There, I said it. I swore I would never turn into a curmudgeon like my grandfather. I pledged never to reflect lovingly on “the good old days” or to rant about how technology has replaced “the charms of human interaction”.
Tyrone is a college friend of mine who lives in New Jersey. We speak nearly daily using the evil communication device. This is possible because of one of the few advantages of the cell phone…portability. I certainly would not speak to Tyrone so often were I tethered to a wall by a ten-foot cord. We actually do most of our chatting when one or both of us are driving in our cars. This is frowned upon by the authorities much more in New Jersey that here in Florida where there appear to be extremely few rules of the road. It is not uncommon for one of our calls to drop, but I always wait at least thirty seconds for him to pick up the phone that he dropped in his lap upon seeing a policeman.
It should also be noted that Edward Snowden or some current CIA functionary is receiving a constant flow of highly inappropriate language and discussion as they listen in on our conversations. Tyrone and I frequently point out that as we get closer to death, we also get closer to the point where one of us will have no one to talk to as a result of outliving the other. The ramifications of this will be clearer later in this essay. First, I would like to lay out some of the other issues I have with this satanic device.
My kids rarely answer when I call. I don’t know all that much about current technology, but I am quite certain that my children have some sort of app that lets them know that I am currently speaking to one of their siblings and encourages them to call me. Other than Tyrone, I use my phone about fifteen minutes per day and it rarely rings even for those calls. However, in the rare occasion that I am able to get connected to one of my kids, it is a virtual certainty that one of the other two will call me within twenty seconds. They claim it is a coincidence, but I know better.
My son has a bizarre set of rules regarding leaving him messages. He heavily discourages it. He feels that if I leave him a message, something must be wrong. Then, when he finds out that I just wanted to share something with him, he is typically angry. “Why didn’t you just text me?” he’ll ask. “It might be because I am trying to reach you via a telephone,” I might reply. It’s downhill from there.
The term “all thumbs” used to describe someone lacking dexterity and still does in my case. My kids, however can use their thumbs to type well over a hundred words per minute and with autocorrect, do it without error. They all use some sort of swipe variation that I cannot master. Even my wife has adopted this and indulges their text-not-call system. The problem is that my wife still refuses to abbreviate and as a result, spends more time texting that talking. I have three books published including two novels and I think I wrote them faster than she can relate an anecdote via text. Half of the words I text get autocorrected and most of those into bizarrely different or even inappropriate words.
Too many buttons
I don’t need a phone that has a dashboard like a 747. Since I talk while driving, I also need to talk while getting into and out of the car, or while unloading groceries. Unlike the traditional phones which allowed for a large hunk of plastic squeezed into my neck, I now have a flat device with twenty buttons and icons on the screen. I’ve noticed that I frequently cut off Tyrone during this time. I call him back and he asks what happened (old people always need a reason for tech failures). I tell him that I jowled him. It seems that somewhere on my fat neck, I have a carbuncle or lesion that perfectly lines up with my hang-up button.
Another button problem takes place when I get simultaneous calls. Let’s say I’m talking to Tyrone when one of my kids calls. As a parent, I always check to see if everything is all right. I’ll tell Tyrone that I need to call him back. I have to look at my screen (after putting on my glasses) to disconnect the call. When I finally zero in on the red mark, I begin to thrust my finger toward it. By now, Tyrone will have disconnected from his end. As my finger dives toward the screen, His call will disappear and my kid’s call will show up precisely as I hit the red button, thus disconnecting my kid. After a few expletives, I will call them back and of course, get their voicemail.
All of this brings me to a recent event that caused me a not-so-small amount of embarrassment. I mentioned earlier that neither Tyrone nor I are enthusiastic about a world without the other. There are just too many offensive things that we would have no one to share with. Tyrone recently has a bad PSA test indicating a potential for a prostate problem. He is under the care of a urologist and is fine for the time being. Still, he has encouraged me to be tested. I recently had bloodwork and was delighted find that at 0.8, I have the prostate of a twenty-one year old.
I immediately texted Tyrone to ask what his most recent PSA number was…
TEXT: What was your last PSA?
I immediately got a reply…
RETURN TEXT: PSA???
I suddenly realized that in between texts to Tyrone, my neighbor Tara texted me to thank me for letting her kids use my pool. I hadn’t seen it and had asked my PSA question of her rather than Tyrone. I immediately sent a contrite reply…TEXT: Whoops wrong person. You probably don’t even have a prostate!
She responded with a sense of humor at least…
RETURN TEXT: Probably…I actually got tears laughing from that one.
There was only one thing left for me to say…
TEXT: I hate cell phones!
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