I had an unusual cell phone experience this past weekend.
I don’t own a cell phone. I don’t WANT to own a cell phone. I don’t have a good reason for this, except that I am wary of the idea of being “in touch” twenty-four hours a day. I know you can turn the phone off, but how many people do that? I like the idea of being hard to contact. In a world of constant, ever-flowing information – a world of incessant chatter – a world in which you can instantly see or talk to someone on the other side of the planet – I want less data, I want more quiet, I want privacy. I understand I’m swimming upstream against the societal norm and this weekend I was foul-hooked and gutted for it.
I went to see my oldest daughter dive for her college in the conference championships this past weekend. The venue was small with limited seating so a number of swim team parents were sharing tickets. One woman who didn’t need her seat for Friday kindly sent me her ticket. It was predertimined that I would return her ticket at 10am on Saturday so that she could watch her daughter swim. I was in the lobby at 9:30am, waiting. My wife had insisted that I take her cell phone for emergencies, which I had in my pocket turned off. Why have it on, I only need it for an emergency was my thinking. Apparently, the woman whom I was meeting kept sending me texts and messages to the cell phone in my pocket explaining that she was going to be late. With each non-return call she became more and more upset with me (who I remind you was early for the meeting and waiting patiently). Eventually, she looked up my home phone number and called my wife complaining that I wasn’t returning her calls. My wife calmly explained that I probably had the cell phone turned off. Eventually, she arrived (two hours late) and angry. When we found each other, she immediately berated me for not using my cell phone properly. She made a disparaging comment about the differences between someone from NYC (her) and Maine (me). I said nothing, just nodded my agreement and handed her the ticket.
She made no offer of apology for being late. I was in the wrong. I was the bad person. I was an idiot. Somehow, my desire to remain cell phone free is stronger than ever.