Signing off from using cell phone

Published 2:18 pm Friday, September 28, 2012

Don’t call me on my cellphone. I won’t answer.

Last week, I did what I’ve been threatening to do for years. I threw that slippery eel of a nuisance away. I had lived five decades without one. Why was I stuck with something I hated now?

Every time I met a car heading straight toward me in my lane with the driver oblivious and talking on the phone, I swore to get rid of my own cellphone. Every time some shopper in Wal-Mart bumped into me as she was explaining, loudly, to her phone that she was, well, in Wal-Mart shopping, I vowed I’d get rid of mine.

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Once while I was giving a speech, a cellphone rang. That was bad enough. The man answered it and began a loud and inane conversation. I thought that day, enough was enough.

There is no escaping civilization now. People carry the blamed things on boats and into amusement parks. Those silly customized rings go off in movie theaters and nice restaurants. And when they do, everyone in the building starts slapping his pocket to make sure it isn’t his phone.

When did we all start having so much to say? What changed besides technology? Remember the days when you lived them, then went home and relived them with your spouse and family face to face?

I realize that I’m only hearing half the conversation when I am forced to listen to others on their cellphones. Unavoidable eavesdropping, I like to call it.

But I’ve never once overheard anything that resembled a profound thought, or even an urgent one. Instead you hear endless recaps of ordinary actions. We have become relentless narrators of our own boring lives.

“I’m at the Piggly Wiggly on the baking aisle. I can’t remember if I’m out of sugar. Maybe I’ll just buy some anyway.”

Fascinating stuff.

While I’m on this rant, I should say that people in general talk too much. That’s why nobody knows anything. If we’d listen more, talk less and process thoughts before spewing them into the ether, the world would be a more informed and tolerable place.

The older I get, the quieter I strive to be. It seems reasonable to me to retreat to the private cell of your own thoughts when you get past a certain point.

On the eve of some new telephone release last week, people slept in the street to be first in line to get the contraption. I’m not sure what exactly this phone will do besides call another one. Possibly wash and hang out dainties, or feed the family pet.

Reports of a new tsunami of talking headed our way depressed me. I could envision clerks who never look up to help a customer, spouses who never look into one another’s eyes, drivers with no hands free for the steering wheel, picnics with telephones instead of ants, children watching movies instead of playing tag and some stranger somewhere telling me and the rest of the world her private business.

That was what tore it. Don’t call me on your fantastic, expensive, new-fangled cellphone. Because mine is history.

(To find out more about Rheta Grimsley Johnson and her books, visit