Thursday, September 27, 2012

Troglodyte


I do not own a cell phone.

Yes, I know. I'm a troglodyte. I'm similar to the final caveman who said, "Fire? Why in hell would I want to use that? I've been happy eating raw bloody mastodon meat for years now. Why would I want to... What is it you call it? Cooking? Why would I want to "cook" my mastodon meat and then have to wait for it to cool off before I could actually eat it? You people are NUTS!"

(I could have riffed on the wheel, or even moved things into the semi-modern age by pretending to be a person who preferred horses to automobiles. Both of those probably would have been better choices, since they have to do with inventiveness and technological advancement, but I decided to go with fire because when else will I ever get a chance to write 'raw bloody mastodon meat' in a sentence?)

Be that as it may - and it no doubt was - I do not own a cell phone. Hell, I don't even know how to use one. I've borrowed cell phones from people - perhaps 3 or 4 times over the past twenty years, which shows you how often I've ever had reason to believe I might want to own one - and I've always had to ask the owner how it works. They try to show me.I then fumble around for a couple of minutes, probably dialing a few numbers that cost a gazillion minutes and also give away banking info to some guy in Albania, then they notice I'm not accomplishing anything useful so they end up dialing the number for me and handing back the phone, which I then shift from my ear, when listening, to in front of my mouth, when talking, because I still don't understand how a phone can work unless you talk directly into it, so I miss half the conversation.

Why do I not want a cell phone? Easy. I don't like being on the phone, period. I much prefer face-to-face interaction or the more relaxed conversation one can have via the written word. Being face-to-face offers intimacy. The written word allows one to compose thoughts succinctly. Phone calls combine the worst of both worlds, with inarticulate immediacy and no compensating facial expressions that might ingratiate yourself to the person who thinks you're an idiot.

Telephones tend to make me angry even without the bad conversations. It's like having a brainless barking dog in the house. Telephones make demands ("Answer me! Now! Answer me! Now! Answer me! Now! I'm not going to stop ringing, Jim! Put down your bass guitar and answer me! I don't care if you've just come up with the best riff ever that will be the basis for a million-selling song and now you'll never remember it - ANSWER ME!") and I do not respond well to demands. I am contrarian by nature. If I'm asked nicely to do something, I'll usually try to accommodate the request. If I am ordered to do something, though, I will make every effort to do the exact opposite, every time. That's why I keep our telephone in a room where I can safely ignore it and let the answering machine deal with whoever is interrupting me. Even if someone I love is on the other end, I never enter the conversation with a happy thought. And if it's someone trying to sell me something, having interrupted my evening meal of raw bloody mastodon meat, I become livid. So why in hell would I want a friggin' portable device to carry around with me so that it could annoy me 24 - 7?

And another thing, he said, knowing full well he was coming off more and more as an embittered old toad with every sentence he uttered. I find that most people who use cell phones in public are assholes. They have idiotically boring and mundane conversations at volume levels usually associated with campaign speeches. These self-absorbed dickweeds want the world to know that the trip they just made to the dogwashateria was some sort of life-changing experience. Or they're telling blatant lies. I actually heard a guy telling someone he was on AMTRAK from New York, and would be getting into town in two hours, while he was actually on a subway train in downtown Boston. Then he said, "I love you, too", while ogling a blonde across the aisle. I wanted to grab his phone and shove it up his ass on general principles alone, but then the thought occurred to me that perhaps the person on the other end was just as much of an asshole and they might deserve each other.

Yeah, phones make my sweet and charitable side blossom.

Why am I all of a sudden telling you this stuff? What brings this to mind now? I'm glad you asked.

MY WIFE purchased a cell phone. Not content to inhabit the mid part of the twentieth century with me and watch endless Life Of Riley reruns, she instead has decided to make an attempt at including herself in modern society. I am, of course, appalled. Why in the name of Satan's left tit does she need to speak to other people when she has me around? I do have to admit to a certain level of amusement, though, because she doesn't quite know how to make the thing do what she wants it to do.

First, I should tell you it arrived at our house almost three weeks ago. It sat in its box for two weeks, unopened. I considered it a hopeful sign that MY WIFE might be having second thoughts about being up-to-date. However, three days ago (or maybe four; tough to tell with my sundial) she opened the box, took the phone out, and then tried reading the instruction manual. This did not lead to joy.

I was in the living room watching a Life Of Riley rerun. She came into the room with a bitter look on her face, saying, "I can't get this thing to work. I've tried calling myself three times, but nothing happens."

I said, "You've dialed your new phone on our old phone?"

"Yes, but it doesn't ring."

"Did you try doing the opposite? Did you dial our old phone from the new phone?"

"Yes. Still nothing."

I then gave her the benefit of my entire storehouse of knowledge concerning telephones. I said, "Huh."

Usually, once an impasse of this sort has been reached, I offer my manly services. I tell her that I'll give whatever it is she's frustrated by a look-see and try to get it to work. That's what we men do. We dope things out for damsels in distress. It's what we live for, really. We love to do stuff like that. In this case, though, I held my tongue. I knew damn well that her cursory glance at the instruction booklet gave her more knowledge concerning cellphones than I'd ever have. I would not allow my manhood to be so easily deflated.

"Well, best of luck!"

She went back into the bedroom, leaving behind her a small trail of steam.

Since then, she's been more successful with the thing. Or at least that's what she tells me. I haven't actually seen her in action with it (nor would it make any difference if I did since I wouldn't know if she was faking it.) She says she sent three text messages yesterday. Apparently, at least one of them was actually received by the recipient because she got a reply. She has checked her e-mail on it, I think. I don't believe she's actually made a call yet, which is the main purpose of a telephone as near as I can remember, but I suppose that will come with time.


MY WIFE has probably started something that will end with me being dragged, kicking and screaming, into the current century. When I arrive, I'll give you a call (if I can figure out how.)

Soon, with more better stuff.

43 comments:

Craig said...

Well, you know, we got our first microwave, as well as our first VCR, sometime in the 90s (and not the early 90s, either). You want to give these new technologies time to work the bugs out. . .

I used to work for a wheel company, and when folks found out that I was an engineer, they would invariably ask, "How much engineering is there in a WHEEL? You make 'em round, right?"

I got my first cell phone as a freebie from my car insurance company, back in the 90s (auspicious decade that it was), when I started commuting more than 10 minutes to work. For the first 5 years I owned it, I'd make about three calls a year on it, only if I had a roadside emergency. Then, maybe 6-8 years ago, one of our kids (and cell phones alone could yet turn out to be the most significant reason I might ever rue the fact that we reproduced) talked us into getting a cell phone 'family plan'. Since, you know, that way we could always be in touch with each other. What s/he didn't say was that s/he could ignore calls from Mom & Dad. And also that horny girls from school could call at 3AM (I am not making this up).

Anyway, silly me, I thought phones were about talking, but now, they're about looking stuff up online, checking email, etc, etc, at least as much as boring old conversation. . .

And now, I suppose I'll have to think about writing my own post about this. . .

Jackie said...

Some of the rudest behavior I've seen is by people on cell phones. But, saying that, I have to admit that I will turn my car around and drive back home if I think for one moment that I've forgotten my cell phone.
I hope that your wife enjoys her phone. I look forward to an update from you. Truly!

Buck said...

I don't like being on the phone, period.

Yet another thing we have in common. That said, I haven't had a land-line since 1999 (It would be hard to have one in an RV, no?). Further... my employer gave me my first cell phone in the mid-90s, it was one of those "condition of employment" things, in that I had to be "reachable" 7x24. I REALLY hated that.

And again: I bought my first smart phone two years ago, up until that time I made do with the cheapest, most basic phone I could find. But now? I'd HURT you if you tried to take my phone away. Hurt you BAD. Think: Pandora. And e-mail. The list goes on...

haphazardlife said...

When we moved a year ago, we decided to ditch the land lines (house and cottage) for cell phones. I have on average 6 minutes of talk time per month on my phone - which tells you just how much I like talking on the phone.

However, I will admit to being quite taken with texting. I love that you can dispense with all the bla bla that's expected on the phone before actually getting to the point.

Tabor said...

Yes, I do have a cell phone. I used it much more when I worked, but now that I am retired I doubt I use more than twice a month. I also hate phones. I do not have a smart phone, so texting is out of the question. My husband got a smart phone a few months ago and I avoid answering any questions he has about it completely. I refuse to get involved even though I am the techie in the house. He has gone to the store three times to have them help him in using it. It does everything except change the grandson's diapers.

Stephen Hayes said...

I'm a troglodyte, too. No cell phone. Nobody ever calls for me anyway.

The Broad said...

I have a smart phone and I use it a lot -- but mostly not for talking! I, too, like texting, but having said that I never come close to using all my text allowance or my minutes. The cell phone is now so predominant that there are fewer and fewer public phones around -- so if you need to call someone for whatever reason and don't have a cell it can be a problem. And this summer when my tablet computer failed while I was on holiday -- I was able to blog -- using my cell phone!

Uncle Skip, said...

Luddite, Jim, you're a Luddite... NTTIAWWT.
I'm not overly fond of phones, either, but somehow they've become indispensable and they're more practical than semaphore, smoke signals, and heliograph.

Angela Christensen said...

You're not really a troglodyte. You're more of a Luddite (as I believe one of two of your other grateful readers may have pointed out). Nevertheless, we're all so damn happy you bother to write about it. A pleasure, as always.

Angela Christensen said...

"...one or two...", I meant to say. Writing. Sheesh.

lime said...

ya wanna know something funny? i never wanted a computer because i had a typewriter. when we got one i didn't see the point of having the internet. i also did not want a cell phone, but we got those too. now i am the guru of technology in our particular household. go figure. yeah, you may be dragged into the current century, but i suspect you'll manage it one way or another.

Kerry said...

I've had a cell phone for a few years, using it several times a week. Hubby never had one, then BAM, he got an iPhone last fall. Like jumping from horse-and-buggy to a bullet train. His iPhone is rarely used as an actual phone however. It's more like a tiny computer.

Ami said...

What does it say about me that after reading the first part of this post, all I can do is wonder why you didn't use the phrase 'masticating my mastodon'?

I love having a cell phone, and I use the hell out of it. But no iPhone, no touch screen and GASP it's only been a year since I started texting on it.

Jimmy said...

I sit and watch my wife text and talk on her cell phone, if it rings I just listen to the little tune it plays because I wouldn't know how to answer it if I wanted to.

You are not alone Jim, pass the mastodon.

SueAnn Lommler said...

Ha!!! I have 5 teenage grandchildren who all have cell phones. We text each other on a regular basis!! It makes my day to receive communication from them. Especially since we don't live near each other.
Good luck on your journey! I am enjoying the new technology! Grin!!
Hugs
SueAnn

Jinksy said...

I think texting is fun- and a test of your spelling capability at the same time- You can't have a spell check on a mobile phone or perhaps these days you can? Mine is very basic compared to the computer like smart phones...they practically sing and dance as well...

messymimi said...

Cell phones are a pain, and i have one because i've received many a middle of the night call from a teen in trouble (car broken down or flat tire). The main use is emergency contact like that.

Suldog said...

(not my) Uncle Skip - I thought of calling myself a Luddite, but I'm technically not one. I use a computer all day long; I enjoy driving as opposed to most other forms of transportation; I watch and enjoy TV, radio, etc., and basically the only modern invention I don't much care for is the telephone; so "Luddite", while a great term to know, isn't truly applicable.

OK, yeah, I'm not actually a troglodyte, either, but shut up.

Suldog said...

Kerry - Well, see, one of the things that truly bugs me about these things is the tiny keyboard. I'm much more of a big shaggy dog than a toy, so I'd be misspelling things and ordering pizzas I didn't want and otherwise becoming aggravated beyond all reason if I had to deal with a keyboard that didn't fit my fingers.

Suldog said...

Jinksy, AmiMental - I can see where it could be fun to have conversations, but the little keyboard would drive me up a wall. I'm much more of a pound-it-with-a-hammer sort of guy than one who would not be aggravated via using jeweler's tools, if that makes sense. My blood pressure would rise ten points every time I misspelled something.

Suldog said...

All - If I had kids, it might be different. I might like to have a means of communicating with them. Then again, I might not...

Matt Conlon said...

The thing about the cell phone, is yes, it makes it POSSIBLE for your to be in touch, but the darned batteries are so independable that the excuse everyone used before cell phones about being in the shower has changed to "My battery was dead".

It does take some more intelligence though, cause "My battery was dead when you called" can sometimes lead to "But your facebook status says "from my mobile device" two minutes after I called you".

I think we're getting to a point when you can actually just say "Yeah, I just didn't feel like answering. But hey, I'm answering now, and that's better than it was before cell phones and you'd have to wait for me to return your call on Saturday."

I can definitely agree with you on the interruptions though. I hate the fact that a phone call means "drop what you're doing and deal with me now."

Thank god for voicemail.

Valerie said...

Of course you now know that women are superior when it comes to cellphones.... grins.

Loved this post, it made me smile .... a lot.

Daryl said...

Your Wife is smart so i am not going to ask if she contacted the service provider to activate the phone ...

Daryl said...

oh yeah .. Toonman doesn't own or want to own a cell phone .. just sayin'

A Recipient of YOUR WIFE's text message said...

"So why in hell would I want a friggin' portable device to carry around with me so that it could annoy me 24 - 7?"
--------
Fair point, and one that I share and sympathize with. But:

1) Owning a cell phone no more requires one to carry it around constantly than the 2nd Amendment mandates the bearing of arms, or the purchase of Ted Nugent albums.

2)While it *does* seem based on anectdotal evidence that most cell phone owners are indeed rude morons (like most people in general), we never see/hear those who use them courteously and responsibly. Yet this is not grounds to condemn the technology as such.
To keep with the libertarian (small "l") theme, the existence of Lindsay Lohan doesn't mean that the 18th amendment was a mistake.

There are probably people who obsess about hammers, and will stay up all night to be the first one to buy Black and Decker's latest ball peen. Others hammer at the most innapropriate times (viz. Peter, Paul & Mary), or use then to smash things other than nails. But I'll still be glad to own one comes time to hang pictures in my new home.

A Recipient of YOUR WIFE's text message said...

Oops!

The 18th Amendment -- both the law and my citation of it -- WAS a mistake. I should have said the 21st Amendment.

Of course, if it wasn't for the 18th Amendment, we wouldn't now be enjoying Boardwalk Empire.

Suldog said...

Recipient - That you deign to answer my irrational blatherings with rational thought just proves your own irrationality. So there, and imagine me sticking out my tongue and waggling my fingers in my ears (neither of which I could as readily do if I were using a cell phone, although I could download an image of same, send it off to millions concurrently, and be way more efficient at pissing people off, I'll grant you that.)

Insofar as Lindsey Lohan is concerned, neither the Founding Fathers or subsequent legislators could possibly have been expected to foresee such a thing, so you may as well have said the 19th Amendment.

Michelle H. said...

I hate phones, but I have a smartphone. I barely make calls except to set up pediatricians appointments and answer it when the pizza guy is about to deliver my food. I don't text message, and I don't get any annoying telemarketers trying to sell me stuff. But I get emails from work clients constantly, so I might actually put it on my tax return and get something back from having one.

pattianne70 said...

I read this in public on my phone laughing hysterically and most likely annoying the hell out of everyone in my immediate vicinity.

Suldog said...

Michelle - If you can get money from the government for having a phone, let me know. Maybe I'll get a phone then. Anything I can do to get my taxes back would be fun.

Pattianne - Thanks for being a public nuisance on my behalf!

Shammickite said...

I had an ancient cell phone shaped like a brick and I carried it around for years never knowing if it was working or not as I didn't tell anyone my number. And it wasn't able to send texts or pictures, it was prehistoric! I have now inherited my DIL's flip top phone, a little more modern but not much. and I still haven't told anyone my number so I never get any calls, And if I got a call I'm not sure that I know how to answer.

Maggie May said...

You really surprised me. I thought you'd have the most up to date model!
I just have a 'pay as you go' for text and emergency calls.
Maggie X

Nuts in May

Paula Wooters said...

Good luck with that! I hate telephones too... which is exactly why I have a cell phone. My son can now text me important information without me ever having to actually answer the damn thing. I recently got rid of my land line so I didn't have the phone ringing all the time with annoying requests for donations. I'm a much happier person because of it.

Babs said...

Were we separated at birth...??? Are you my long lost fraternal twin my mom didn't tell us about lol.
But I do have a phone..I don't have the souped up kind, just a plain ole 19.95 one from Walgreens that I can put my sim card in. I don't like how everyone is glued to the phone like the walking zombies. Poor babies and pets get so neglected because of it. Not to mention other atrocities occurring. I get it. Imagination what would Edison or Einstein had been like if they had had cell phones?

I tried posting on your last post but there wasn't any way to do so..now I don't remember what I would have written. lol

Jeni said...

Cell phones and I are not best buddies! I have a cell phone now and I think in the year since it was given to me (by my son and his girlfriend for my birthday last year) I think I have made maybe 6 phonecalls at the most on it! They got it for me because they thought it would be a good thing for me to have so if my car breaks down -or I get lost someplace out in the boonies around here -I can call someone for help! Fat joke that is! For openers, if I were to get lost out in these boondocks, odds are generally NOT in favor of my being able to call for help because ....Verizon needs to do a whole lot more of the "Can you hear me now?" work in this area. If I were to need emergency help at my house, I would have to drive my jeep out of the village -up the hills and over the creeks to Verizon's service available site you know in order to call for an ambulance or whatever! And to reach one of my kids via their cell phones? Oh pleeeaassee! Give me a friggin' break as they always are having one problem or another with their cell phones! (BTW, my son got my phone as a freebie, offered to people of a certain age and up -as an emergency convenience. I get 240 freebie minutes per month and right now, my available number of minutes available for my usage is around 1500 minutes or some such equally obscene number. And don't even think about trying to tell me how much cheaper it is to have a cell phone than a land line either! I've seen my daughter's phone bills (cell type) as well as my son's) and no way did my phone bill come close to what they pay each money since younger daughter got caught having run my landline bill up with over $90 in long distance phone calls back in the day when there was no such thing as "free long distance calling coast to coast." (I told her to please get an f'ing friend whose number did not involve dialing "1" at the beginning of the call -not that it worked exactly, but the calls she made did subside a little bit anyway! A really long story -maybe even worthy of a blog post on that topic provided I remember having mentioned this here tonight as I'm trying to medicate my nerves into sleep with my second triple shot of Kaluha on the rocks! Also another long, long story which doubtful that it will be post worthy -ever! Oh and if you ever do get a cellphone of your own, with text capacity, be very careful of what you choose to use as your signal that you have incoming text. Daughter's phone gives out with a whistle that had me thinking every freaking time I heard it that our neighbor was out in the yard whistling for their dog to come home!

Jeni said...

BTW -hope you weren't expecting a short comment from me on this topic cause if you were -well, good luck with that idea another day!

SarcasticTestGuy said...

Keep solid, Jim: Do not go gentle into that good night! I hate the damn phone, but with such a large and accident-prone family, it's a bit of a necessity for me. I much prefer raw mastodon meat.

Hilary said...

I have only had a cell phone since January. I find myself texting more than talking. You sound more like Frank. He hates the phone (but has the same one as mine) and refuses to take it with him and/or turn it on until he has something he wants to do with it. He cares not about others trying to reach him. I just find the whole thing frustrating so we use mine as the contact phone. His is just a money waster. ;)

Suldog said...

Jeni - Your two comments, taken together, should be elected to the Rant Hall Of Fame :-)

Jenny Woolf said...

We need people like you who stand out against phones. I have been pulled into their horrible enchanted circle, and I've been trying lately to get out again. It's hard, very hard.

No matter what your wife does, don't give in!

Joan said...

Texting is great. You don't have to talk. :)

Barbara said...

I'm always one of the last to get the latest technology device, but you and the WIFE make me look like I'm cutting edge! lol That made me laugh when you said the box sat unopened for two weeks. I do the same thing when I get something new.