Over the past several weeks, I've done something stupid, repeatedly, and I have to say I kinda like it:
I've left the house without my iPhone.
Usually, I realize within a couple of blocks, and the Responsible Rabbit voice within hauls me back. Yet a few times, especially if I've just been heading out to get mail, or go to the gym, I've uttered the two-word equivalent of a raised middle finger and just kept on going.
And I remember: this is how it used to be.
We didn't have 24/7/365 on-demand access to our friends, families, clients, contacts and, increasingly, prompts to BUY ALL THE THINGS. "Out" meant "not in," and your voicemail message, or pink phone slip, or even (until a few years ago) email waited for you until you got back "in."
I remember car phones when that's what they were- hunks of heavy metal either hardwired into a car or extremely inconvenient to haul around. My two senior law partners in the early 90s had them, of course, and when I borrowed one of their cars one day (the Taurus wagon, not the Porsche, duh), I got tapped on the car's ass at a gas station and found the car wouldn't start. Couldn't figure out how to use that phone for the life of me; wound up using a pay phone to call AAA and got a very expensive lesson in how Fords all had fuel shutoff switches installed after those pesky Pinto incidents of the 1970s.
A few years later, I was out of that firm, into this town, but still commuting back to Rochester several times a week. One afternoon, it was my turn to pick up Emily from daycare- a place that had a strict 6:00 pickup time with fines and (even worse) stares for being late. The 90 was backed up a good 20 miles by 5:15; turned out a minivan from our town had been destroyed in an accident and two kids from Emily's future middle school had been killed. But even if I heard that news on the radio, there was no way to talk back to the station or the JCC to tell them or Eleanor that I would be necessarily late.
By the end of that week, I'd gone to Rochester Tel Mobile and gotten my first-ever cell phone. Not as big and bulky as the Taurus model, but probably bigger than eight iPhone 4s bundled together. Telescoping antenna, ten whole memory spots for speed dials. No texts, no office email, no Candy Crush.
I miss it.
Years later, another emergency sent Eleanor, my sister Donna and I to Florida, and the phone became useless; I'd tried porting the number from Verizon to Cingular, but the area code had split in the intervening years and while I could call Eleanor (for whom I'd just gotten a 716 phone), she couldn't call me. So on our return I switched to the new, purely 716 number I still have. That, I think, was a flip phone. So cool- just like Star Trek.
And you could text- not that I ever did.
Miss that one, too.
In time, Emily got one, too, and upgraded more or less along with me to where we now both are, with iPhone 4s. Eleanor's shown no interest in anything other than a number and a line for outgoing and incoming- and increasingly, she's leaving hers behind when going to work or the gym, quite on purpose.
Me? I still feel more need to stay in touch with clients, especially during the workday, but I've been making a conscious effort to shut the sound after 5:00. That, along with the subconscious leavings-behind, may help keep me saner as life gets less sane.
Hearing the story
of the train full of mobile users, ignoring a carload of warning signs before a murder finally got their attention, makes this learned indifference seem even more tragic. This story- Alexander Graham Bell meets Kitty Genovese- makes me want to forget that phone now more than I ever have.
This entry was originally posted at http://captainsblog.dreamwidth.org/165306.html
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