My granddaughter thinks I need a cell phone. My son thinks I need a cell phone.
Have these young adults stumbled upon a truth that has eluded me for at least 50 years?
When I was a child in a small hamlet downriver, there were three telephones in town. They were located in the Conoco station run by the deputy sheriff, the Northern Pacific depot and the only hotel in town.
Together they would have filled the box of a half-ton pickup truck.
The phones had no dials, only cranks that rang a bell. One long and two shorts. Or two shorts and one long. Etc. It didn’t matter.
If one phone rang, folks picked up on all three of them. Party line, don’t you know?
I bashed the thought of cell phone ownership around all afternoon until an idea struck me smack between the frontal lobes. Wow! I thought. If I could trade my land line phone for one of those battery-nursed mini phones, I could save a chunk of cash.
I knew I would not spend a lot of time texting.
“HI. HOWR U?”
Nor would I toy with “apps” that enable a user to locate the nearest electronics shop, consult Google, shave, slice, dice or make julienne potatoes.
I decided, too, that I would not carry my cell with me.
“4COL Wts / wi jo.”
For crying out loud. What’s up with Joe?
I might use my cell’s Global Positioning System to determine exactly where on earth my wandering has taken me.
“WEIR M I?”
“U R RIT HERE.”
I could buy a cell with a hole in the back to take pictures. With a lot of luck, I could get shots of Rodney King beaten to puree by a troop of California cops.
“Kant we all B frens?”
I bought a cheap cell phone that came with a small supply of minutes. I told the clerk I wanted my land line number on my cell phone.
“No problem,” said the young vendor.
“My lame speculation of how I would use my new cell ended when I called the manufacturer to help me activate it.
The tech guy told me what my number would be. “Hang on, Slick,” I said. “I want my present number.”
“No problem,” said he.
Restoring my old number would take 30 days, he said.
“Thirty days?!” I yelped. “Someone hits a toggle switch on your end and the job is done.”
“Nope,” said the phone guy. “We could do it that way, but we don’t.”
He said his company needed the cooperation of my old phone company to “port” the number.
Aware that a encyclopedic knowledge of “porting” would not return my old telephone number, I begged him not to explain the process.
“How did the cell phone company get my number in the first place?” I wanted to know.
“You must have given it to them,” he said.
“I did no such thing,” I said.
He ignored my protest and told me to call the cell phone company. I did and the cell phone lady told me her company does not have the number that no longer exists.
The next day my stationary phone died. I called my old phone company.
“The cell phone company now owns that number,” the tech said.
“Expletive, expletive,” I said, demanding to speak with a supervisor.
The “supervisor” was on the line in three seconds. She could not have been far away.
I pictured the first tech handing the phone to her friend in the next cubicle and mouthing the words, “You’re a supervisor.”
To make a long story shorter (but still insufferably long) know that I spent four hours talking to the people who lost my old number, listening to the woman who said her company not only did not have my number but had no means of getting it.
First my neck began to cramp. Then my shoulders ached. A two-megaton headache made me forget the other complaints. Finally, I surrendered.
“Port away!” I screamed. “Send me a postcard when you locate real numbers for each of my phones. I’ll be right here, rubbing my neck.”
I still use my new cell phone occasionally to swap instantaneous voice messages with friends. At all other times the little bugger lies on my desk next to my real phone.