Recently, I upgraded my old flip phone to a smart phone. I’m not sure why, exactly. It was perhaps a little impulsive. I never thought much about my old cell phone. It served few purposes, but came in handy to locate my sister if we got separated at the mall. Hardly worth the monthly fee, but there it was. I also used it if my car was in the shop for a tune-up, and the mechanic had to let me know when the car was ready–although too often he would call only to tell me how much more work it needed. (Highway robbery, if you ask me, but don’t get me started…) In short, I used the phone so seldom that I didn’t even know my own number. It functioned strictly on a need-to-use basis.
Why then, you ask, did I bother even upgrading to a more complicated gadget? Good question. I could answer that it was time for me to come into the 21st century. (Thanks, but I’m happily ensconced in the 19th). I could plead to wanting to keep up with the Joneses. (I’m already three generations of technology behind. There’s no way I’ll ever catch up). But the real answer is that I felt left out.
To illustrate, I must go back and tell the tale of how I almost started smoking. During my nurses’ training (in the middle ages), cigarette smoking was still socially accepted, even, gasp, in a hospital. It was allowed anywhere and everywhere in the building, except where big signs read, OXYGEN IN USE. NO SMOKING. Imagine that! At any rate, I was doing a month’s rotation in Psychiatry, and every morning, the staff would have a meeting. The door would close to seal us all in the small report room, and then without fail, everybody would light up. With one exception. Me. A haze of smoke, like warm, woodsy fog, enveloped us. Day after day, the scene would be repeated. I began to feel an almost irrestible urge to bum a cigarette off the nurse next to me. Just so I wouldn’t be, sigh, left out. Fortunately, my native shyness stopped me. To this day I count myself lucky to have emerged from Psychiatry smoke-free.
Which brings me back to the phone, and my rationale for getting one. The thing is, everywhere you go nowadays, people are using their smart phones. In the malls, waiting rooms, cars, theatres. Even in the hospital cafeteria, as soon as meals are eaten, out come the phones. Nimble fingers text messages back and forth, or slide over the large viewscreens, seeing wonderous marvels on magical apps. To me, it’s the smoky Psychiatry report room all over again. The siren call is unmistakable; everybody’s doing it. Go ahead, don’t be left out.
What can I say? I succumbed. Just before Christmas, the longing in my heart could no longer be denied. I bought my own smart phone. I walked around quietly ecstatic, smiling every time I thought of it. My daughters chuckled as they watched me fumble with it, wondering if I’d ever get the hang of it. Yet, surprisingly, after a few days, I logged almost 400 texts, downloaded three whole apps (before I lost my nerve and deleted one), took 23 pictures, and changed the wall paper back and forth before finally settling on the original.
Then, gradually, like coming out of a fog, my phone fever broke. I simply turned the thing off and put it in my purse, where it stays until activated for duty, or for the day my car goes in for a tune-up.
My sister just chuckles, as she sits there playing with her new iPad. Really. What, exactly, does she find so fascinating about that silly gadget? Yet, it seems to keep her enthralled for hours. You see them everywhere nowadays, the malls, waiting rooms…I’m feeling a little left out. Hmmm…