Thursday, January 04, 2007

That Black Speck May Be a Cellphone!

I just bought a new cellphone. It is like wading through a dark, eerie forest to find out just which company to join, and since it involves contracts, etc., one must approach it as though it were an International Treaty. Each company gives you so many minutes in which to freely call anyone you want. After those minutes pass, you are in deep trouble. You will get The Bill....and there is nothing that hurts more than paying for chatter you've indulged in two weeks before.

To be a cellphone user, one has to keep an eye on the calendar and the clock. There are free calls after a certain time, when most people are watching television and resent intruders, and on weekends. You can gab to your heart's content from Friday evening until Monday, but you must watch the clock on weekdays. It sort of reminds one of schooldays, when you used to pray for Fridays and the weekend seemed gloriously free.

I have learned the hard way that one should never provide a teenager with a cellphone. Teenagers love to communicate. They will set up a date to do something together, call about their wardrobes, their meeting time, their probable activities, then they arrive at each other's driveways and call again before knocking at the door. The teen that sits in sulky silence in your home will suddenly become a talkshow host on a cellphone. They never stop talking or sending messages back and forth. You can't get them to finish an essay for English class, but they will Text Message each other for hours.

Cellphones seem to have a problem with shrinkage. One used to be able to grip them with some comfort, but lately, they have become the size of thimbles. They are so small that they get lost in the palm of the hand and, if you are trying to call a number, it is best to use a sharp fingernail or a toothpick for that purpose. Even then, you will hit one number when you are aiming at another.

These small phones are difficult for those among us without the eyesight of Superman. We peer at these tiny apparatuses and try to understand the squiggles. It is like trying to read the fine print on a television ad, one of those that says "No payments for five years and we pay the sales tax!." If you COULD read that print, it would say....."limited to those that make a $10,000 purchase," but you can't read it, so you rush down to buy a table or a couch and pay the sales tax and the payments.

The popularity of cellphones is amazing, considering the fact that there are many places where you just can't make a call. My husband and I were in such a spot in a Tennessee park years ago. In order to call the kids, we had to climb a mountain, reach the summit, and even then the sound was garbled.

Because I am Hearing Impaired, I had to find a cellphone with a very loud ring tone. I finally settled on one that plays something that sounds like a loud moosecall. That same hearing defect hinders me from hearing any conversation well, but I figure I can scream "Help! Police!" and give myself some amount of safety. That is the most beautiful thing about cellphones. They can save your life on a dark, country road, if you are accosted or in need of help. The only problem is trying to find the numbers, 911, on the teensy phone with the teensier numbers in the dark of night.

I could have used a cellphone the day my car conked out at a gas station. I asked the attendant for help, but she said that no customers were allowed to use the phone. So, I went to a payphone, used my last fifty cents in coin, and shouted out my problem to whoever answered, because I couldn't hear a thing. After a half-hour wait, my dealer sent a towtruck to haul me away to the garage.

However, the driver of the car was allergic to dogs. He wanted Jedi to ride in my disabled car, which was loosely chained onto a flatbed truck. I knew this would frighten her, so I offered to ride there with her. He replied that this is against the law. So, I told him to go back and send out another towtruck. He didn't want to do that, so he and I rode in his truck, with Jedi held on my lap, while his eyes ran and he sniffled and snorted as though he would pass away any minute.

With a cellphone, I wouldn't have been limited by the use of my last fifty cents of change, and I could have reminded the dealership that I had a Hearing Dog with me.

I am constantly amazed at the people who use cellphones everywhere. If you go to the bank or the grocery store, or just walk down the sidewalk, there they are, talking into their cellphones. What is it they talk about? Who is it they are calling? Why is it necessary to call someone on your cellphone if you are in the meat department of a grocery store? "Listen, babe, should I buy chops or a roast? What about hamburger, it's cheaper? Or did we have hamburger last night?" I just can't believe they spend those precious minutes chatting needlessly...and I would hate to see their bills!

Cellphones are quickly beginning to take on historical importance. The grisly execution of Saddam Hussein was photographed with a cellphone. Without it, we would have thought this execution was dignified and orderly. Only with a cellphone taking pictures could we hear the taunting jibes and the sectarian shouts! Because of a cellphone, there will be renewed violence in Iraq.

Like most inventions, there are the ups and downs of cellphones. Just as furnaces warm us without effort, but halt the woodcarrying and chopping that gave us exercise in years past, the cellphones have a good side and a bad side. But one thing is for sure, the world will never be the same as it was before we had them. I used to talk to friends and neighbors with a telephone hooked to the wall. It was on a short cord and the kids would take advantage of the fact that I was tethered to the wall and begin bouncing on the couch, emitting Indian yells.

With a cellphone, one can chat and change a diaper or stir the soup. One can pace around to let off steam, apply lipstick, or put away the dishes. If cellphones had been around during our country's beginning, one can imagine the significance of the calls. "Hello, George, Tom here. I've heard rumors that you will be our first president. I've been working on this Constitution thing and it isn't easy. Should I say 'all men are created equal,' or should I say 'all men and women'? Ask Martha about that and let me know, okay?"

Who knows the differences in historical fact that might have taken place should cellphones have existed back then? We'll just have to wonder about that. In the meantime, I must try to locate my thimble-sized phone and get it working. I can call someone, play games, send messages or listen to various ringtones. Some might say it is another way of wasting time....but what else have I to waste?