Namo amitabha Buddhaya, y'all.
This here's a religious establishment. Act respectable.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Talk Thursday: Before Cell Phones

I gotta start this off with a complaint. Well, maybe just a peeve. This happens at work sometimes and it really frosts me and I don't know why. I'll pull into a parking space, get out of my car, head for the elevator. A colleague will pull in next to me and get out of her car (it's always a female; I've never seen a male do this). Said colleague will be talking on a cell phone. It's braced against her shoulder, or she's talking on her headset (it's usually braced against her shoulder, though) and she's in the middle of some conversation that Should Not Be Had In Public, often about the breaking-up of a relationship or the color of poop in somebody's diaper that morning. Said colleague will follow me, or walk next to me, to the elevator and down in the elevator and across the bridge to the building and into the lobby. And then, finally, once we're in the lobby and waiting for the main elevator, said colleague says, "I have to go, I'm about to get into the elevator," and hangs up. Whereupon she looks at me (for the first time in five minutes) and says, "Good morning!"

Too late.

Honestly, I don't know why that bugs me so much. Maybe it's being privy to the conversations I'd rather not overhear. Maybe it's knowing she was driving and talking on her cell phone, which is dangerous. Maybe it's flat-out being ignored, then suddenly being acknowledged, like I only exist when it's convenient. But anyway. It puts me in a sour mood. Do not ever let anyone tell you that Buddhists are always placid and content. We do get in sour moods. Sometimes we even (gasp!) lose our tempers. Over cell phones. Talk about attachment to material things.

It's a little hard for me to believe this now, but I actually lived more than thirty years on the planet without a cell phone. I once had nothing more than a simple land line with an answering machine and thought that was plenty. I never worried about somebody trying to reach me in class or at work or some number of other places where I might not be reachable. The guy in charge of my band (yes, I was once in a band) had one of the first car phones, and he used to leave me amusing messages that sounded something like this: "Jennifer, I'm going to be late to practice because my hearing ran over, so I need you to stop by my house and you stupid son of a bitch pick up the keys from my wife and watch where the hell you're driving go down and unlock the church..." What cell phones existed were huge and clunky and had these weird antennas that stuck up in the air. I couldn't imagine ever needing one. Doctors and lawyers and emergency managers might need something like that, but me? Hardly.

Fast forward to 2011 and try to separate me from my BlackBerry. Go on, I dare you. Many braver men than you have tried and failed.

I might point out, I didn't even have e-mail back then. I'd heard of it, but only a few people had it, and no one that I knew. My dad was on something called "Compuserve" that he seemed to really like, and I was glad he was having fun and so on, but as far as I was concerned, computers existed for one purpose only: To serve as glorified typewriters. Oh, and video game consoles. I was particularly taken with a game called "Welltris" (three-dimensional Tetris) that no one else had heard of. Now I get my e-mail on my cell phone, and play a game called "Brickbreaker" that no one else has heard of. One of these days I'll spring for "Angry Birds." No, I probably won't.

I don't just use my BlackBerry, I rely on that sucker. I read headlines on it, tweet on it, keep my appointments on it, keep my address book on it, get directions on it. It keeps me entertained when I'm waiting for something and oh yeah, once in a while I actually do call somebody on it. If I ever lost it I wouldn't know where I was, where I was going, what was happening in the world or what I was supposed to do next. The mere thought makes me a little green. I have a cartoon somewhere of a meditation instructor saying to the student, "Your posture's very good. Now drop your shoulders a little bit and try to relax your grip on your cell phone." Yep, that's about it. When they pry it from my cold dead fingers.

By the way, my BlackBerry has a meditation timer. Yes, I know I'm hopeless.

Techno-geeks rejoice! Afrah, home of the World's Greatest Pita Bread, is now on Twitter! Follow them @AfrahMedFood. And tell them Jen sent you. I wonder if they tweet in Arabic?


Cele said...

Oh mi gosh I love it. I do not have a blackberry, I do not want a crackberry. I do not text, I do not tweet, it's hard to get me to answer my phone. I haven't done this topic, but I will, it's formulating as we type.

Jen said...

Ah yes, my child, with BlackBerry the first time's always free.

There's actually a Web site called, which has bazillions of gizmos for BlackBerries. I'm a regular.