Sunday, August 07, 2005

Cellular Dilemma

Cell phones: Everybody has one. Everybody except me that is. I've doggedly held onto my retro belief they're frivolous at best, and quite possibly represent absolute evil. They often seem either unjustified- as counterfeit status symbols, or unnecessary - as electronic leashes that chain otherwise free souls to the unyielding demands of an all-consuming employer or spouse.

It's not that I believe that everyone who has a cell phone falls into these categories. I know a lot of people find them useful in limited situations. My wife has one which she usually only keeps in the car in case of emergencies, and more than a few of my friends use them to keep in contact with eachother on the move. But they at least are intelligently selective about when they carry/answer them and when they don't. I guess I don't believe they're always bad, simply that I never saw myself as needing one. Once I realized I didn't need one, it became easy to see how I might be happier without one at all.

But times are always changing. It used to be that I could always find a pay-phone if I was out and had to make a call. I figured the $1.50 I'd spend in a month from phone booths was cheaper than any cellular plan I'd have to pay for, and I really didn't mind the extra effort of walking to a booth (at least there's never a queue anymore). But now finding a booth is becoming nearly impossible as pay-phones are going the way of the dodo. The few that are left always seem to be out of service, and I secretly suspect I'm the only one who notices.

I'm sure it was wisdom that initially turned me away from the cell phone trend, but I'm doubting it's wisdom any longer. I'd come to hold my lack of a cell as a unique badge of honor, something to set me apart from the mindless masses obliging commercial consumerism. But that rant wears thin when I conclude my explanation of 'why I don't have a cell' with, "by the way - Can I borrow yours for a sec? I need to make a call." I'm realizing that I borrow other people's cells a lot lately. It's gotten so bad I actually get calls on other's cells sometimes. I've ridden my moral high-horse across the ridge of discernment and into the valley of hypocrisy. It's time to get off the horse.

The proverbial camel snapping straw came a short while ago, when my wife became seriously sick at work and needed me to come get her. After I left she realized she'd given me the wrong location to pick her up at. She had to call a my mom (who was at least much closer) to pick her up, and then detour to meet me at the wrong location so I wouldn't search in vain. Ever since then I've decided I could probably use a cell phone of my own. Now the only trouble is actually getting one.

I started shopping on Friday, and was overwhelmed by the different plans/ phones/ options/ distributors available. It made me think about an old former-East-German lady who spoke of the paralyzing fear she felt when she went shopping for the first time after the wall came down. She talked, quite entertainingly, for ten minutes about toothpaste and how she had no idea there could be so many different types of toothpaste or which one she was supposed to buy. She ended up shopping for an hour and then leaving the cart - buying nothing - and never shopped again without a 'helper' for months afterwards. I'm sure it won't go quite so badly for me, but it does seem I'll have to do a bit more research before I commit to a purchase. It's strange because I know plenty about buying computers or handhelds or cameras - just not phones. This must be how old people feel about technology.


Blogger Dædalux said...

Footnote: I got a cell today. A very trendy one too. Heaven help me.

8/11/2005 6:28 PM  

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