I have a real hate/hate relationship with telephones. Whether they are at work, at home, in other people's pockets, whatever...I can't stand the things.
When I want to read my newspaper, I can get up any time in the morning, walk outside at my leisure, and pick it up. I can read what sections I want to, when I want to, and skip the parts that I don't like.
The same is true with my mail. I can answer letters if I feel like it, or just chuck the whole pile in the trashcan and go on with my life.
The telephone, however, changes all of this. It is invasive. It tells me when I have to pay attention to it. It rings without warning or invitation, generally when I am doing something else and have to interrupt that activity. Just like a baby, it demands to be answered now, or it will continue to cry and whine until I pick it up and pay attention to it.
Cell phones are the worst. Don't you sometimes leave your house and go to the store or the movies just to get away from the distractions of life? The cell phone, however, is the distraction that is a leash. You might as well put a tag from the vet on it, because it is always going to be around your neck.
To make it even worse, everyone has cell phones these days, My parents each have their own phone. They are together or are at home 95% of the time, but they have to have the home phone and two cell phones.
All of the teenagers have the stupid things. At a doctors office the other day, a man was complaining that his daughter and her best friend will sit nest to each other in his back seat and text each other instead of talking! At a rate of over 3000 text messages a month, his daughter averages about 100 a day. Take away the hours in school when she is not allowed to use the thing, and you will see that she is constantly playing with her modern day gigapet.
We are even giving versions of the things to babys now and starting them off young. We put a baby monitor in the crib next to little junior. When he wants a bottle, all he has to do is cry and Mommy or Daddy come a runnin'. Sounds like an infant version of "Domino's Pizza Delivers" to me!
With all of the new cell phone gadgets now, it is impossible to tell the crazies who talk to themselves from the people who've got a blueberry pie (or whatever they call those things) in their ear. It used to be, that if they were dirty with un-combed hair and smelled and talked to themselves, they were crazy (or just truck drivers). With the grungy fashions and modern technology, they could be "stylish."
I'm not a full technophobe when it comes to modern means of communication. I do like e-mail. I can read it when I want and then answer it at my own convenience. All I've got to do is keep my computer's volume turned off and I don't hear the "you've got mail."
I also kind of like the caller ID box that I have on my telephone. The only problem is that, when it rings, I have to go over to the phone, look at the box, and wait for the second ring to decide if I want to answer or not. If I decide to ignore it because I don't want to talk to that person, I still have to listen to a few more rings before the answering machine picks up.
I found an old friend from my youth the other day. We have not seen each other or spoken in almost 20 years. She informed me on an e-mail yesterday that she was sending it from her cell phone and that she is fully wired up. It made me think of her as looking something like a Borg from Star Trek, with her electronic gadgets attached all over her body.
In truth, I'm the guy who thinks that there is no call so important (except maybe a death in the family) that it can't wait a few hours until I get home from the store. See, I don't really need the call at noon when I'm in line at the local choke and puke telling me that we'll be having supper at 6:00 and that the dog pooped on the rug. At noon, I only care about my lunch. News about supper can wait until I'm back in the office and it is nearing time to get off work. News about the dogs bowel movements can wait until I get home...because people hearing my side of that conversation would probably put me in the crazy category.
I finally got a cell phone of my own. When I travel, I have to have some way of contacting my work and my home. My company will not pay for long distance charges on my hotel bills any more or allow me to put phone cards on my expense reports. It seemst that they expect us all to have cell phones with free roaming and unlimited minutes and pay for all this ourselves.
See, I used to take her phone on out of town trips with little or no problem. I would then, however, spend half of my time telling her friends who called that I had the phone this week and that they were going to have to call her on "the land line" (and cell phone people use that phrase as if it is an insult and a cuss word).
It was not a pleasant experience getting the thing as my wife practically had to drag me, kicking and screaming, to the store.
Do you know that it is impossible now days to get a phone that does not have text messaging, cameras, games, calculators, calendars, etc.? I told the girl at the store that I did not want any text messaging and was not going to pay for any messages sent or received and she noted that in the contract. Within ten minutes of activating the phone, her company sent me two text messages! I guess they were too busy punching buttons to read their own contracts!
She informed me that I would be charged 15 cents for those two messages, and seemed peeved when I told her to take that off of my bill. When she was punching buttons with one hand on the computer, I think she was using her other hand to secretly text all of her fellow employees and tell them that she will dealing with a techno-phobic old fart.