To Beep or Not to Beep, That is the Question? (Turn that beepin’ thing off!)

I do not own a cell phone. To me it’s been a badge of honor and I love to tell others that in addition to not owning one, I never intend to get one. Well, that was until recently. Now, don’t misunderstand, I still don’t have one, but Pat has sort of encouraged me to reconsider.

So, I thought maybe I’d try one out, to sort of practice and see what it felt like. I asked Pat if she yet had her old one that I might borrow. She gave it to me and reminded me that there was no service connected to it so it didn’t work. I told her that was fine. She was looking at me real strange.

Well, I held it a while; opened it up; closed it; and then put it up to my ear and carried on a make believe conversation to see how it would feel. The conversation was pretty fun, but I would have felt more comfortable with one that fit my ear as does our real phone. As Pat listened to me talk, she was looking at me real strange, again.

I took it to our Wednesday night Bible study to see if anyone would notice what I was doing. At one point I took it out and acted like I was texting. One lady looked at me but didn’t say anything. No one else seemed to care. I was surprised, since I have always made such a big deal about disliking them.

I also took it to church on Sunday and did the same thing several times. One of the ladies we sit with suggested I check and turn the ring off. Of course the phone wouldn’t work, but I didn’t tell her. My response was: what if I get a call from, say, the President, or God? One of those I wouldn’t answer. The other lady said to Pat that it looked like I had a new toy.

On Saturday morning, at coffee with friends, my pretense was found out and I had to confess that I was just testing the response of those who knew of my aversion. One of them (the wife) then said very dramatically, “Alan, this is not about you.” I still don’t know what she was talking about.

Throughout all of this, Pat continues to look at me real strange.

Now, for my pet peeve. At the yearly university Christmas choral and band concert, the conductor began by asking everyone to turn off all cell phones and small children. Why in the world does he have to do that? Since I don’t own a phone, I guess it rankles me more than others when cell phones ring all the time whether in church, at concerts, family and friend gatherings, and it seems, well, everywhere!

People I know are surely thinking I have become antisocial when I don’t respond to “Hello” out in public (usually Wal-mart) I have responded with a “Hi” one or two times, and to my embarrassment someone is answering a cell phone. Now I don’t bother anymore whenever I hear someone say “Hi,” or “Hello.”

In my opinion the only person who should ever answer a cell phone in public or at any gathering, is one who is “on call” having to do with a job. In the good old days these folks would be at home dutifully waiting for that call to the ER for emergency surgery, or something. Of course, increasingly everyone is “texting” which is a lot better than talking in public.

Does anyone ever talk quietly on a cell phone? I know on rare occasions when Pat hands me her cell to talk, since my mouth is about five inches from the phone, I find myself talking real loud to make sure I’m being heard. Others, I have noticed, do the same thing. Surely they all can’t be non- owners like me.

In our world of high tech, are we losing the all important “high touch?” I don’t mean the physical, although most know that is important too (I do also, even though I’m not one of the real “touchy-feely” dudes). The “high touch” I’m thinking of, is the face-to-face, eyeball-to-eyeball, heart-to-heart, being-to-being relationships that are suffering, in my opinion, because we now have facebook-to-facebook and text-to-text instead.

Nothing is more disrespectful and insulting then someone interrupting a more-than-one gathering to use a cell phone, be it sound or message. If you’re a doctor, it’s O.K. Think of it this way. What if I was visiting you and during the conversation I suddenly, without notice or explanation, pulled out a book and started reading? Then after a paragraph or two, I put it away and said, “I just had to find out what happened next, now where were we?” Now what if I did that, say, every thirty minutes or so? Or jump up and go to the corner of the room, take out my book and do the same thing? Everyone would think I was nuts and most likely call someone on their cell to tell them about it. You would have a hard time not believing that my story was more important than being with you. Right? I rest my case.

My theory breaks down a little because we will answer our “real” phone when it rings and others are present. But we will always tell the caller that we have company and will call them back.

I need to add, that some whom we know are not part of the addicted bunch and still respect the company of others; Pat is also one of them.

Well there you have it. After writing all of this I think my not wanting a cell phone has been reinforced. And, if you ever see me take one out and mess with it, you’ll know it’s Pat’s old one and it doesn’t work anyway. I just like Pat to look at me real strange and wonder some more.


  1. Love this post! Hope to see ya’ll face-to-face here in Colorado sometime soon!

  2. Thank you for your kind words. We visit Colorado Springs quite often.

    Maggie, is that you??? I have to work on last names!!

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