I Don’t Have a Cell Phone

For the last couple of months, at any rate, yes — I haven’t had a cell phone.  Reasons why in a minute.  I do save money, there is that. But that is not interesting. The more interesting thing about this is that there are some interesting repercussions side effects of this decision.  I thought I would share just a few of them, in no special order:

#1: When a cell phone ring or chime goes off, many times I am the only person in the room who does not look down. I think we are looking at at a future epidemic of neck strain, akin to whiplash, caused by people jerking their heads downward or to the side every time a phone goes off.  I am going to call it “Ring Neck.”  Like the pheasant.
#1A: I am amused at the number of people who will still look down at their cell phone when “Party Rock” starts playing even though I KNOW better than they do apparently that their ring tone is Beethoven’s Fifth.

#2: This spring, the school where Mira had her pre-school class instituted a new policy.  The doors were constantly locked from the outside after school started, and in order to get in you had to call the cell phone number of a hallway staffer who would let you in.  This was done because too many high school kids were slipping in and out to have a smoke or to disappear for an hour or so.  This school is the site of the “second chance” school, so there are a fair number of questionable decisions made daily by kids enrolled there. Also, a totally bizarre juxtaposition beside young parents walking around with babies and young children.
 [To be fair, most of the kids are rather polite to us, having been told that bad behavior around young kids may result in their expulsion.  However, about once a month you do have to explain why the bald girl with the lip ring is threatening to “cut dat ‘ho what stealin’ my man” to your three-year-old.]

Anyway, since I don’t have a cell phone, I have to make sure I get there early enough to go in alongside the set of parents arriving for the same class I am.  If not, I have to go the long way around the building to knock at a door in the front, which often requires me to lift the stroller with my one-year-old up the steps first.  I’ve thought about calling before I leave the house to say “I’m on my way.  Wait on the inside until you hear a milk bottle flung against the door in about ten minutes and then let me in.”

#3: That time in the parking lot when a guy came up to me in the parking lot of the grocery store and asked if he could borrow my cell phone because his car broke down and he needed to call for a ride.  Rather than say something like “I left it at home,” or “It needs a charge” or whatever, I just said “I don’t have a cell phone.”  He gave me the oddest look and then said “Really?  Who doesn’t have a cell phone?”

To which I said, “You, apparently.”  At which point we just sort of walked past each other.

BY THE WAY, as a proud member of Paranoids Anonymous (which is not its real name because we don’t want you to find us), before you consider lending a stranger your cell phone you should think about it for a moment.

“But Dad – EVERYBODY has an iPhone.”
“I don’t even have a cell phone.”
“I meant everyone COOL.”

#5: When you tell a prospective babysitter that you don’t have a cell phone but they can call the restaurant where you will be if there is a problem and have them page you, if their eyes flash a look of panic or widespread confusion, it’s strike one.  Conversely, if they are not fazed because they don’t expect any problems and because they know first aid, CPR, and monkey style kung fu, you have a winner.


The reason I don’t use a cell phone is simple — I didn’t use it.  And when I needed to use it, it was inevitably dead from sitting around not being used.  Also, the number I had is the number that MSU misprinted as the number for assistance with student housing, so most of the calls to my cell phone weren’t even for me.  My phone package comes with no additional charge for long distance, which was one of the reasons I got a cell phone oh, so long ago.  It also didn’t help that Verizon Wireless was so completely unhelpful in nearly every regard any time I needed help or had a question.  When I went in to transition my monthly plan phone number to a pre-paid plan, none of them had ever experienced that particular customer need before and they had to essentially call a staff meeting right then and there, complete with a teleconference, to figure out how to do it.  Four of them listened to the same cell phone NOT on speakerphone and pushed buttons on the computer, trying to get something to happen.  It basically ended up like THIS.

They did it wrong, by the way.  My neighbor’s thirteen-year-old told me how to do it later.


Author of over sixty children's books, as well writer of textbook materials and standardized exam text. I may have helped teach your children...

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