Why'd You Put Your Quarter Down On Me?

The universe loves irony. I know this because after venting my dislike for James Taylor along with a complaint about basketball, the start of the NBA Finals tonight featured James Taylor singing the national anthem. It was, if I may say, awful. It sounded like what I imagine a rehearsal in James Taylor's garage might: off-key, a lot of loose plucking of strings, no cheering. And it was acoustic and mellow which is, of course, exactly what you want to pump up the crowd before a game.

As I commented on it, my roommate noted that he was named for a James Taylor song. So there's that irony, too.

It's getting ready to storm here.

This may be because I'm considering getting a cell phone which would be one of the bigger shocks in the world. The main reason I'm thinking about one is that I'm planning on doing a little (a very little) traveling, and having an easy way to be in touch with folks when I'm on the road might be nice (though to be honest, I only call people before bed when I'm traveling) .

It's funny to me because an off-hand remark on another online site I frequent about this consideration has earned me more responses than anything else I've done there. People, it would seem, feel very strongly about the need to have cellphones. It's a bit like the way married couples - most at least - feel the need to hound you like the Furies if you're single (hm, both are weird sorts of long term contracts...). Of course, none of my cellular-enabled friends has yet tried to fix me up with a phone or a carrier or anything like that, but I think the comparison is apt.

I've never had a desire to have a cell phone before. I like being out of touch when I want to be. Yes, I know you can turn them off, but you all know that once you have a cell phone people react differently when you don't take a phone call. I like that when I make a plan to be somewhere, sometime, that plan is more likely to be stuck to because no one can call me and tell me they're going to be late. I like that I'm not one of those people who thinks that whatever I'm thinking at a particular moment is so important that I must speak about it in the car or the grocery store or the bathroom.

I love that people with cell phones all think they can react just as fast when they're talking in the car as someone who's just driving in spite of a ton of studies that show it isn't the case. I think people should be offered a choice: you can use a cellphone in your car or you can use a gun. I'd love to be able to take a shot at someone who cuts me off because they're too busy talking about what they bought at the store to actually check the lane next to them. But I'm from Texas, and this may be some sort of genetic condition that requires me to want to shoot at someone sometime.

And anyway, cell plans are ridiculous. A two year commitment? Honestly, you cell users stand for this? Does your cable provider demand a commitment that long? And how do you figure out how many minutes you need during the day for a month? It seems to me like that's dependent on whether your friends and family feel like they can reach you any time of day.

But still, the part of me that loves to press buttons is intrigued by this. I love me some Internet searches (I served as a sort of unofficial reference librarian in my shared grad student office because I could find good information more quickly than anyone else - or maybe it was just because I was a sucker who liked playing on the Internet enough that he didn't mind being taken a little advantage of). How could I not be intrigued at the possibility of doing those things unobtrusively in a boring faculty meeting?

And did I mention that I really, really love to press buttons? Once, when I was in second grade, I managed to get my parents to let me leave the sermon in church to go to the bathroom. On the way back - the long, long way back - I found a hidden light switch at church. Now I knew the fact that this was hidden probably meant I shouldn't touch it, but honestly, could you resist? Interestingly - and I think this was a design flaw on someone's part that totally absolves me - the light switched activated the fire alarm.

But I probably didn't have to turn it on a second time.

Anyway, the storm's starting, but that's no indication that I've come to a decision on this whole cell phone issue.


6 Responses to “Why'd You Put Your Quarter Down On Me?”
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Brigindo said...

Yeah I held out on a cellphone for as long as possible. But I found they come in handy when driving very old cars. We no longer have a land line and only do cellular now. However I never go anywhere near my monthly minutes (I have the lowest amount they'll allow); refuse to phone and drive; and generally avoid using it in public spaces. Also if you don't give people your number they're not likely to call you when you don't want to be reached.

The 2-year contracts? --way out of line.

June 6, 2008 at 9:36 AM
ash said...

DEAR GOD! Quick, let me run outside to see if hell has, in fact, frozen over! Dr. C with a cell phone? My world has been turned upside down...

June 6, 2008 at 3:49 PM
Dr. Curmudgeon said...

No worlds need to end just yet. I'm not sure a cell phone is in order.

I feel like once I get one, I'd get rid of my land line. And that'd mean I'd need to give everyone my number and that'd lead to the sort of behavior I was worried about.

But really, trying to wade through the contracts is ridiculous. And then you've got to try and figure out who you know on what company and where you're going to get coverage.

I'm pretty sure what need I might have for a cell phone isn't enough to make me care that much.

June 6, 2008 at 8:37 PM
Dance said...

There are pay-as-you-go options. E.g., you buy 100 minutes and use them until they are gone, instead of a monthly bill. Then you keep your landline and keep it mostly turned off.

I'm surprised no one has tried to fix you up, because many companies, calling other mobiles for the same company don't count against your basic minutes. So if you expect to have long conversations with someone, it may pay to be on the same company.

Anyhow, yeah. For a long time, I was able to have a cell phone and feel free to turn it off or not answer it, because somehow I lost that when I got a new phone, and now it's an electronic tether.

June 7, 2008 at 3:03 PM
Dr. Crazy said...

Responding to this way late, but I think that the way for you to go, at least initially, is what Dance suggests. This is what I do with my Super Secret Cell Phone, and the only time I really use it is when I travel (though sometimes I do use it for it's ever-important clock feature. I bought the thing like 3 years ago, and now I just recharge the minutes once a year. I'd estimate that I spend around $8 on it, and it's more than sufficient for my cell phone needs, and nobody even pretends that they can actually contact me on the thing.

June 9, 2008 at 9:46 AM
Dr. Curmudgeon said...

Oh, it's not so late to jump in as all that. I've been deliberating for days.

Pay-as-you-go is the current plan, though I haven't dived in yet. I've talked with several friends about what service they're on - and some of them have given some supremely excellent advice (thanks, if you're reading this!). It's been interesting to see who's had good things to say about what companies.

At the end of the day, the deciding factor has been that I don't plan on being here next year (he said, again), and until I'm sure of where I'm headed, I'm not signing up for a two year hitch.

And since I really only what the phone in the case of emergency at the moment, there you go.

June 9, 2008 at 11:14 PM