2009.10.27 Don't 'dial ' my number

Written by David Green.

‘Dial the number’


By DAVID GREEN

The New York Times recently published an article about “cellphone refuseniks.” It made me wonder if I’m a refusenik or if I just haven’t gotten around to buying one.

It also made me wonder about the term “refusenik.” I probably knew this at one time. It refers to Soviet citizens who were refused permission to emigrate out of the country. Since then, it’s come to refer to any protester.

So, am I protesting the use of cellphones or am I just preoccupied with my life as it is and haven’t yet found the need to be in constant contact with the world around me?

I’ll have to think that one through.

I still remember the early days of mobile communication. I was in New York City where there are always people walking around talking to themselves. We have a few in Morenci, too, but it’s more of a rarity.

That day in NYC, someone was walking toward us on the sidewalk carrying on quite a conversation with himself. He was dressed in a suit and tie. He carried a brief case. He didn’t look like what I would rudely call the typical person who would talk to himself in public.

Then I noticed the little telephone he was holding up to the side of his face. He wasn’t really experiencing mental problems. He was just an image of the future.

It seems so silly to relate this story, but it’s not like “gather around, kids, and I’ll tell you what it was like when I was growing up.” It really wasn’t that many years ago. Sure, high school kids today have always known cellphones, but that’s not the case for someone in college.

And rampant texting? That’s really recent stuff.

The refusenik story says that 85 percent of Americans use cellphones. That puts me in a shrinking class of stupid and stodgy individuals. The NYT tells me that it’s older or less educated people who have no cellphone, along with those who can’t afford one. I could afford to sign up for a plan if I wanted one and I done gone to college twice. That just leaves the “older” category, but my parents are in their 80s and they have a cell.

There’s that other small class of people who just don’t have much interest. I can easily see the value of a cellphone, such as when the transmission went out on the van a couple of weeks ago. Colleen was just outside of Ann Arbor about 9 p.m. and she called me with her antique cellphone that embarrasses our younger daughter.

What if it had been me? I would have gotten out, stood by the side of the road and stuck out my hitching thumb. Not that I really would have needed a ride. Eventually a car would stop and I would use the Good Samaritan’s cellphone.

OK, I’m stuck in the old days when I really would have been given a ride to a gas station or at least to a pay telephone. I actually have a plastic calling card in my wallet, but maybe it’s a relic now. I guess I see it as a cellphone of sorts.

If I were to buy a cellphone, I would want something more than just a mobile telephone. An Apple iPhone would be my choice, but there’s a big problem there. As it is now, I’m connected to the internet nearly all of my working day and a good share of my evening hours. With an iPhone I would never be free of it. A constant distraction. Just turn it off? Well then why have it?

Perhaps it seems strange for someone who works in the field of communications to walk around phoneless. It’s not my Luddite approach to modern technology. I have a website, I blog, I use Skype, I send my children text messages using my computer.

Instead, it’s this: Why would I want to get a phone call when I’m eating in a restaurant or attending a council meeting or taking a walk in the woods? Why would I actually want to pay for the privilege of being interrupted any time of the day or night?

People who call me on the regular phone know that after a few minutes I’m ready to hang up. The call goes on and I’m soon lying on the floor staring at the ceiling, trying to sound attentive.

Maybe now we’re getting to the crux of the matter. The telephone isn’t where I like to hang out. So don’t take my lack of affection personally, Cellphone. I guess I just don’t feel like talking.

  • Front.nok Hok
    GAMES DAY—Finn Molitierno (right) celebrates a goal during a game of Nok Hockey with his sister, Kyla. The two tried out a variety of games Saturday at Stair District Library’s annual International Games Day event. One of the activities featured a sort of scavenger hunt in which participants had to locate facts presented in the Smithsonian Hometown Teams exhibit. The traveling show left Morenci’s library Tuesday, wrapping up a series of programs that began Oct. 2. Additional photos are on page 7.
  • Station.2
    STRANGE STUFF—Morenci Elementary School students learn that blue isn’t really blue when seen through the right color of lens. Volunteer April Pike presents the lesson to students at one of the many stations brought to the school by the COSI science center. The theme of this year’s visit was the solar system.
  • Front.leaves
    MAPLE leaves show their fall colors in a puddle at Morenci’s Riverside Natural Area. “This was a great year for colors,” said local weather watcher George Isobar. Chilly mornings will give way to seasonable fall temperatures for the next two weeks.
  • Front.band
    MORENCI Marching Band member Brittany Dennis keeps the beat Friday during the half-time show of the Morenci/Pittsford football game. Color guard member Jordan Cordts is at the left. The band performed this season under the direction of Doyle Rodenbeck who served as Morenci’s band director in the 1970s. He’s serving as a substitute during a family leave.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.
  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.

Weekly newspaper serving SE Michigan and NW Ohio - State Line Observer ©2006-2016