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You know what it is? For the love of GOD, it’s a blasted CELL PHONE. Everyone has one. I’ve seen grade schoolers yapping away on them. No one’s been able to look a high schooler in the eye in YEARS – and not due to some kind of teen angst – but because they’re so busy looking down in adoration at the technological marvel in their hands supplying them with the high of instant and immediate gratification and connection that they’ve lost touch with reality.
Yes, I own a cell phone. Yes, I use my cell phone. But – I am not hooked on the thing.
It all comes back to that “BE HERE NOW” thing. When I’m out with someone or a group of friends, I am with them. I used to have a rule about not answering my phone on Sundays…which became well known after a while.
It’s story time folks…it’s a cautionary tale that comes out of the annals of my long work experience….
Once upon a time, there was a gal who was working in a retail store. She stood at the counter and cheerily greeted customer after customer. One day, a man approached with this machine next to his head. He spoke loudly into the machine, all the while depositing items he (presumably) intended to purchase on her countertop, and the countertops of the other two lanes.
When it was the gentleman’s turn to purchase his items, the gal efficiently scanned them all, bagged them all, applied the coupons (which he did not mention and did not supply), ran his card through, and waited. The gentleman never greeted her, never acknowledged her. He might have been at a self-checkout…except that he would have had to provide his own service, and in this case he was actually being served by a human being…
The gentleman left his items scattered all across her checkout area as he ferried them to his car in several trips, all the while busily chatting away on the phone.
Ten minutes later, he came back into the store, a look of consternation on his face. He skipped the other people in line and brandished his receipt in the checker’s face, demanding to know whether he had been given the sale price for the items that he’d purchased. She deftly plucked the receipt from his hand and showed him, item by item, what he’d purchased, and what he’d saved. He said, “Oh,” turned on his heel and walked through the automatic doors without a second glance.
Okay…yeah – I was the checker (though I’m sure you guessed that already). That actually happened. I was agog at his rudeness. Other customers commiserated with my plight as I attempted to gain enough attention at the end of the transaction to get him to pay. Yet no one called him on his uncouth behavior. No one said, “Sir, you’re inconveniencing everyone with your rudeness.” No one told him that he was presumptuous or selfish or myopic.
Hey buddy – BE HERE NOW.
This is endemic. This is epidemic.
I reluctantly started carrying a cell phone when I was given one as a gift. It was a sad day people. I am a great one for going off the map, having little side trips and adventures, getting lost and loving it. I prize my alone time.
And now? Now, since I own this consarned machine, there is the presumption that since they can call, I should answer. That if I do answer, the caller should get priority over whatever it is that I am doing. There are many times when I truly would rather watch paint dry than talk on the phone.
I agree that there is some merit in being able to reach into my purse and call for help if I have a flat tire or run into a crowd of flesh eating zombies. I agree that there is some convenience afforded me by being able to call to find my way to somewhere instead of driving around “aimlessly.” I agree that there is some value to having a cell phone.
I just mourn what I traded in order to have that convenience – being unfettered. And I mourn what society has given up in order to have that convenience – politeness, connection, social niceties, impromptu conversations with strangers, the bliss of watching a movie without someone’s phone going off, quiet dinners in restaurants without someone in the booth next to you banging on about how their boyfriend is a cheating rat and he’s going to get his….and so much, much more.
If it was hard to be present and in the moment – if it was hard to “be here now” in the age(s) that preceded cell phones, how much harder has it become? I don’t really care how “old fashioned” it sounds, but put down the cell phone people – look around at your world and the fabulous people in it. Unplug, and see how quickly calm enters your life. Unplug from that parasite attached to your head, and plug back into now.
(Steps carefully down from soapbox…..)