Sunday, May 8, 2011


Years ago, I remember smugly stating that I would never want to own a mobile phone. (That’s what we called them in 1982…that or car phones, because the early models were huge and would not fit in a woman’s purse.)  “I hope to never be so important that I must be reachable twenty-four hours a day,” was my stated conviction. But alas, Gary purchased our first mobile phone in 1984, a putty-colored brick-like object with a four-inch antenna jutting out the top, and declared I must carry it with me to and from my job in Dallas in case I ever broke down and needed to call for help. I was touched by his concern, but hardly ever used it. I never did break down, and that phone did not invite talking while driving – it was so heavy that my arm would start to ache after just a few minutes use.

Several years later, Gary surprised me with the gift of new matching mobile phones for him and me. They were smaller than the first - but still mammoth compared to today’s sleek models. He proudly showed me how I could now carry mine in my purse while he sported his in a leather holster positioned low on his right hip. (He looked every bit the dashing gun slinger.) I didn’t really want the phone and still felt that owning one was just a bit affected and pretentious. But my husband is a gadget guy who loves and enthusiastically embraces modern technology. He views each new device with interest and excitement, while I have a tendency to mulishly stay with the status quo. So, it has been Gary who has kept us technologically current, dragging me along with him into the twenty-first century.

We have owned a succession of what we now call cell phones over the years…red phones, blue phones, flip phones and razor phones. Each new phone caused me enormous anxiety. I just do not have the “figure it out” gene in my DNA, and I get just a bit cranky when Gary has his up and running in a matter of minutes. So it was with a heavy heart that I reluctantly welcomed our new Samsung Captivate with Android technology smart phones into our lives this past Christmas.

I will say, they are quite lovely…black and shiny with snug little covers that protect them from harm. Gary immediately hunkered down over his while I was preparing dinner.

“Look at this! This phone has the most amazing graphics.”

“Really? That’s nice.

“No, seriously. Come look at this. You can get onto Google right here and access the internet. I’ll bet we can link into our router and use the WiFi while we are at home.”

“Uh huh.”

“Leslie, come look at this!”

“I am cooking right now and I don’t want the potatoes to boil over.”

To be truthful, the potatoes were fine. I just wanted to be left on my own for awhile as far as the phone was concerned. I have this primordial need to slink off with a new device and study it unobserved. That way I can make all the mistakes I know I inevitably will make without anyone watching me while I make them.

A few days later, I was shopping for Gary’s birthday when my new cell phone rang for the very first time. I pulled it out of my purse and saw a green phone symbol lit up - my daughter Stephanie was calling. I tapped on it and put the phone to my ear. It rang. I tapped it again, harder this time, and put it to my ear. It rang again. I took a good look at it and saw no other symbol that implied some other way to answer the phone, so I gave the green symbol a final hard rap and noticed a man at the next clothing rack watching me with amusement. I put the phone to my ear and was rewarded with silence. The call had gone to voicemail. Fortunately, I had already learned how to place a call to one of my contacts, so I was able to call Stephanie back.

“Oh, you are there,” she said. “I need to ask you something.”

“Okay, but first I need to ask you something. How do I answer this darn phone?”

Stephanie laughed. “When you are receiving a call, you will see a green phone symbol on the left side…”

“I know, I did see it and I tapped on it but it did not pick the call up.”

“That’s because you aren’t supposed to tap. You sweep your finger to the right to answer the phone.”

“Oh…okay, call me back so I can try it.” I looked around and noted the man at the next rack was trying very hard to not look as though he was eavesdropping.

She called. I swept. It worked! I was very pleased with my success and shot the man a victorious smile. He pretended not to see me.

Since that day I have perfected the art of sweeping and have only had to call Stephanie twice more to answer phone questions. It amazes me that where I once believed I would never want to own a mobile phone and be accessible at all times, I now feel very nervous if I leave home without it. It is my faithful little companion - capable of directing me to unfamiliar destinations, assisting me in verifying facts, amusing me with games while I wait in the doctor’s office, and serving as a dictionary. And thanks to my phone, I am accessible to my friends and family twenty-four hours a day!