About 20 years ago, my husband said I should get a cell phone “in case of an emergency.” At the time, I was commuting 25 miles morning and evening to my job in the nearest city, we had two young children, and three members of our family who were in their 80’s. My commute also involved long stretches of country highway, not highly traveled, and with various species of large animals who liked to cross the road in the dark. Even though cell phone coverage was fairly spotty for much of the trip, it still seemed reasonable to me that having a phone in the car “just in case” was a good idea.
At that time, cell phones were not necessarily new or unusual, but most people I knew didn’t have one. Those who did were doctors or emergency personnel and perhaps the occasional high-technophobe who always had the latest toy before everyone else.
In the interim, cell phones have become so common an accessory that I am pretty sure it won’t be long before sperm cells will contain miniature communication devices so that we will be able to talk to our children before they’re even born. (I am convinced that somehow my in-laws managed to anticipate this coming development, as I am pretty sure they were born with phones clutched in their little fists, and haven’t stopped talking since.) So far I haven’t heard about cell coverage in the grave, but it probably won’t be long before coffins come with a Bluetooth option.
Back to the idea that I needed a cell phone for “emergencies.” Beyond a few occasions that could fall under a definition of emergency that would please Mr. Webster, over the years what has actually constituted an emergency for which my cell phone is necessary?
- Can you stop at the hot dog stand and bring some home? They’re four for $3.00 today.
- Check and see if the auto parts store is open. I need some WD40. Large can.
- What are you planning to make for dinner tonight?
- I was going to pick up my mess from the dining room table, but I got distracted.
- Don’t forget to go to the post office and pick up the mail.
- I parked all the way at the end of the parking lot and some dingbat parked right next to me.
- The town dump truck turned around in our driveway.
You get the picture…..
I am not sure when it became necessary for people to be in constant contact or when it became critical to share the excruciating minutiae of everyday life on Facebook or by constant texting, e-mailing and phone calls.
Clearly the technology has many positive and socially important uses, and perhaps I am wallowing in a bit of old lady bah humbug here. But just because you CAN call me with every random thought that cruises through your consciousness doesn’t mean that you HAVE TO. Yes, I know there is caller ID and voicemail, but the problem now is that if I don’t answer my phone, or return calls immediately, then obviously something must be wrong and I also get a text and an e-mail asking why I didn’t answer.
It’s because I’m in a dead zone – not THAT dead zone, just the one that Dan Hicks was referring to when he wrote “How can I miss you if you won’t go away?” Sorry, I still can’t hear you…….