I checked messages on my cell phone the other day. I hadn't done so in awhile and there were quite a few. I listened to a couple and then just erased my whole inbox.
The first one went something like this: "Congratulations, Roger! We heard you just got a mobile phone, too. Isn't this incredible?! We're sorry we wasted the money to have a phone installed next to the toilet, now. Oh well, who knew? Chow."
The second was: "Roger, sorry to use up your minutes, but I wanted to let you know we have plenty of bottled water for Y2K in case you run short. Oh shoot, sorry, I'm roaming now. Gotta go."
I figured the next 3,269 messages couldn't top these in historical significance, so I didn't hesitate to delete them all permanently. I probably freed up a lot of memory on my phone so now I at least have the option of taking my first photograph with it, if I can figure out how. What would I do with it, though? Send a clear, winter night shot of a half-dozen UFOs hovering low in formation over Big Burn to the CIA? They say it's possible to check the weather with it, too, but so can I, so why?
I don't think I'm a cell phone guy. It's not that I hate them; it's that I hate them in the hands of others. The problem is that so few people know how not to use them properly.
Do you really have to call to let me know that you are waiting at the bus stop and let me know you're bored and just want to know what I'm up to? In the old days, would you have wasted a dime and the 10-step walk to the pay phone to call me to say the same thing?
Of course not. Well, let me tell you, the value of that type of phone call hasn't gone up. So, here's a rule of thumb: If you wouldn't have risked the contraction of the Ebola virus in the old days by holding a public phone to your face to make the call, then don't make the call today and risk getting brain cancer from your cell phone. To learn that I'm checking box scores on the Net while at my desk isn't worth the risk.
But, that's just wasting my work time. What really irks me is when you call while I'm racing home from work on my bike in a rush to enjoy my free time. FYI, if I don't answer the first time, don't call back 30 seconds later.
The quick call back makes me think it's an emergency, so I usually stop, peel off my backpack, sift through all the crap in it, and by the time I locate my phone I will have missed your call anyway. Then protocol dictates that I check my message and call or text you back, but I refuse to try that.
I threw the owners manual out 15 years ago and I'm not going to work myself into a rage pushing buttons trying to figuring out how to do these things on my own dressed in colorful Lycra on the side of the road. Even if I did, our ensuing conversation would not be pleasant.
Enough on the joy of using a cell phone for catching up on idle chit chat, though. The fact of the matter is that I can't do business on the toilet or in the men's locker room, either. Trust me, sometimes it is critical to be out of touch, and I mean this more for your sake than mine. If I was blessed with a photographic memory, things might be different. I could give you the answers you want when you interrupt me any old time. As it is, I must remain cognizant of keeping various kinds of paperwork separate and in its place in order to assist you.
I know I'm not going to change your habits, though. The tit-for-tat is not to be insulted if it takes me several years to return messages left my cell phone. Honestly, I think the cell phone could be much improved if you could only call out on it, like when you are trapped in a crevice on Mt. Blanc, for example. Then at least the value of the thing would be way more obvious.