Friday, July 28, 2006

Phone Home

Joined the 21st century today and got a cell phone. I've been a holdout for lo, these many years. Several factors went into my getting one and joining the ranks of the Great Connected. First reason is financial. My budget will not allow for trips to Mazatlan, Lord & Taylor dresses, designer vodka, or solar high phone bills. The last of these was one impetus to get cellular, as it turned out.

Another reason is that I've lived 59 years on the planet without being available 24-7 to anyone who wanted to contact me. I am a bit of a loner despite my intense love of friendship. I just never liked being all that available. As a kid, I would organize projects and play scenarios for the other neighborhood kids to keep them busy. Like turning them into denizens of an old western town, setting them to building a saloon, church, jail, school house, and general store out of palmetto fronds and junk lumber. Then I'd leave them to go nose around the swamp, woods and creek I grew up next to assured that I wouldn't be followed.

I left home fairly young and lived by myself independently. Made my own soup and killed my own snakes. I also spent 5 years in Utah without running water, electricity or a phone at my ranch in Indianola Valley. I got used to the solitude and quiet over a lifetime and then reinforced it there.

I never did see the need for a portable contact device. I've relied on my own wits for whatever situations I've been in. Flat tire? Change it. Out of gas? Walk. Check on the baby sitter? Use the pay phone in the lobby.

I've watched with barely disguised humor as America first discovered portable phones, then as they have become ubiquitous in our culture. Also have been pissed at drivers talking on the damn things when they should be paying attention, idiots speaking on them loudly enough to share their life and sex secrets with everyone within earshot, or having one of them play Macarena from a purse or pocket during a meditation or church service . Watched them morph from the arm length, 2 X 4 big and ugly early box model with an antenna long enough to put an eye out three rows back to a tiny ear plug that makes the user look like One-of-Seven from Star Trek.

I saw no need to join the technically compliant who plugged in, held their bodies at weird angles out of multi-story buildings to pick up a signal, bitch about low batteries and lost signals in elevators and roaming and junk calls and leaving the thing on the back of the toilet at Wendy's.

So what happened to change my mind and return me from the Renaissance? A succession of events all helped to sway my opinion. Not knowing if a friend was okay when she didn't arrive at a meeting place as planned, realizing that even using the body weight trick my dad taught me to loosen a recalcitrant lug nut on a flat would be damn embarrassing at my age and size, getting lost and not being able to find an English speaking American in any convenience store or gas station, running late for an appointment because of road construction and knowing I should alert someone about it all played a part over time.

But the biggest one ended up being high phone bills. First of the year brought two family deaths in other states that required lots of phone time. I got my bills from Verizon and felt shock and awe as I read that two phone calls on each of the two successive bills ran my monthly total up over $150.00. I was shocked! The helpful customer service techs at Verizon told me that if I had a PLAN that they would not have been so high. The PLAN they suggested pushed my monthly basic service up over $75.00 and that did NOT include any calls made with the supposed reduced rates of the PLAN. So I cut my land line, waved bye-bye to Verizon, and signed up with Brighthouse. Got cable, uber high speed computer service AND complete phone service for under what I paid just for the phone bills from hell. The problem is that if the electric goes out - a frequent circumstance here in the lightning capital of the world, Tampa - I have no phone service. So that was the final little push.

And I had to say it many times until my mind would wrap around the idea of it. "I really should get a cell phone." The suggestion finally took. But I'm not committing! Nor siree! I got a pay-as-you-go ghetto phone. I'm not going to be corralled into a 2 year contract with a marriage, let alone with a company I don't know - strangers for hell's sake! And the deals seem to get better on cell phones every year. Maybe I'll miss the really great one that gives you 1 cent unlimited anytime minutes. Maybe I'll miss a new incarnation of the technology that calls a number when you think it. Maybe I just need to see if I can learn how to work the damn thing. My Motorola V170 came with a half-inch thick book of instructions after all.

So. I am connected. You'll forgive me if I don't give out my cell number so readily. I still like to sneak off to the woods much more frequently than I would reach out and touch someone.


Martha Marshall said...

Tell yourself it's not so that you can be reached. It's so you can reach others when the need arises.

You will save big on having this phone versus any plan that's being offered. None are good deals!

Pat said...

Well, I got my first cell phone this year after saying I would NEVER own such an instrument. My daughter decided I just had to have one. But it is NEVER left on and I don't give out my number. And I will NEVER phone you while having dinner with Larry. I will never use it while standing in the check out line at the grocery store. Or the department store. I once saw a woman talking on her cell phone at the Holocaust Museum in DC. And a man knee deep in surf talking on his. What is this addiction????? Pat

queenlint1 said...

Good thoughts from both of you beauties!! I'm actually taking to it rather fast. I made 2 calls to test it out. Mainly, I'm working with the gizmos like selecting ring tone and backlighting, contrast and clock/date setting, and phone book input.

Pat. The woman in the Holocaust Museum in D.C. was rude and disrespectful, I think. There's just certain sitches where they should not be used.