Well, if you had asked me a month ago I would probably have classified them as a curse. From what I’ve observed on the streets and highways, people engaged in phone conversations while driving are not paying full attention to the traffic around them.
My husband and I agreed a long time ago that we didn’t want a cell phone. We liked the idea that when we were traveling in the car it was rather nice that no one knew where we were.
There is a definite freedom involved in driving a vehicle if you have no communication device in it.
Sometimes I would weaken just a little bit, like when I was in a store and forgot whatever it was I wasn’t supposed to forget. But, when I thought it would be a good idea to get one nobody was there to urge me on, so we remained cell-less.
Besides, conquering new technology is more of a nightmare than a dream for me. All of those buttons to push, and I have no idea of what will happen when I push them. In addition to that it always rather frazzled our children when we kept turning down their kind offers to get us a cell phone.
But, as you know, I have been spending a lot of time here at the nursing home with my husband. We have lots of visitors, and the folks here have given me access to their phones, but I finally had to admit that a cell phone of my own could be useful.
As soon as I said the word, Ed, our son, presented me with a cell phone. It’s the basic black model with silver trim. Unopened it looked simple enough. Then I opened it up.
The number keys looked familiar enough, but then there were the other keys including two phone receivers, one red, one green, a camera, a left and right black dot and a thing that looked like a stiff tornado. In the middle of this array is a space-age silver circle with arrows going in four different directions.
Ed explained it all to me. I really did listen, but it was too much to digest in one sitting. I didn’t admit that to him. I just asked if there was a book of directions, thinking I could figure it all out if I could just read it.
There is, and one of these days I’m going to sit down and read it.
I put the phone in my purse in a slot that was apparently placed in the purse for that purpose, and promptly forgot it was there. When it rang I looked around to see whose phone was ringing. This was not too surprising because I did it before when my daughter insisted I use her cell phone when we went shopping at one of the big city malls.
She had entrusted one of her phones to me so that if we were separated she could locate me with a phone call. It seemed like a good idea, but when I missed her I just went to the food court and sat down to wait for her. I got rather irritated when someone sitting close to me didn’t answer his cell.
Then my granddaughters caught up with me and told me it was my phone ringing.
This time I finally answered, and it was Ed. Fortunately answering the phone is fairly simple. You just open it up and say hello. But, of course, he wasn’t satisfied with that. He told me to call him back, “just for practice,” and he hung up.
No problem. All I had to do was open the phone, and push some buttons. Problem! Which buttons? I had forgotten already. Doggone!
Well I opened it up and pushed a few buttons. Some things happened, but I didn’t make the call. I closed the phone, opened it back up, and pushed more buttons — same result. I did refrain from throwing the instrument across the room, and I tried again. Miracle of miracles, I heard the tone, and Ed answered.
He said, “Great job, Mom. Now I’ll hang up and you try again.”
I yelled, “No! I have absolutely no idea of how I did that.”
Since those early days some of our grandkids have come to the rescue, and I am now able to place calls quite well. I also recognize my ring when I hear it, and I can answer. I can even dare to hope that in the future I will be able to use the camera (which now quacks when I try) and perhaps even understand and use all the other features, but never when I’m driving the car.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: This column was first published in the Greenville Advocate on Aug. 9, 2006.