I remember my first cellphone. My first cellphone was some time in the mid 1990s, and it was a big, bulky, heavy Motorola. I didn’t use it very often. Basically, I had it for emergencies, which is the great thing about cellphones…you can use them in emergencies.
But I also remember life before the cellphone. The first twenty-two years of my life, in fact, cell phones weren’t really a thing. I’m sure there were people who had them before that, but I don’t know how they worked. I remember seeing car phones in TV shows like Cannon and Charlie’s Angels in the 1970s, but I think back then, they operated on a radio signal. When I was a kid, we had some sort of radio at home that would intercept car phone calls sometimes. We could also pick up foreign radio stations…I have no idea what kind of radio it was…shortwave maybe? My brother and I would search the dial for any sound, and when we heard something, we would stop and listen. It was great entertainment for us when we would hear a language we didn’t recognize or intercept a phone call.
My 15-yr-old daughter has no concept of life without the cellphone. She has asked, “What if you got sick at school, and your mother wasn’t home to answer the phone?” Well, we just stayed at school. If we were really sick, we might call Daddy or a neighbor to come get us.
When we were older, if we were meeting friends at a movie or restaurant, we had to plan before leaving home. And if we were waiting outside the movie for that friend, we couldn’t call if they were late. We just waited.
When I was in college and had to drive a couple of hours to the university, I did it without a cell phone. Two hours on the road with no cell phone. If I had experienced car trouble along the way, I would have had to rely on the mercy of strangers. I likely would have had to walk to a gas station or to a stranger’s home to use a phone. I knew where every house and every gas station was along the route.
Once, when I was driving back to school, I ran over something and had a flat tire about 20 minutes from the university. Without a cell phone, I would have been stranded or at the mercy of a stranger, but lucky for me, on that particular trip, my friend, Angela, was following behind me. I pulled over, and she stopped so I could get in her car. She drove me to the nearest pay phone, and I called a guy friend to see if he would come change my tire for me. We then drove back to my car and waited. He came and changed my tire, and we were back on our way. But if I’d had a cell phone, I could have stayed in my car and called AAA. I was lucky Angela was there, and I was fortunate to have a good friend to call.
Later, when I was 24, I was in a car accident in Mobile. As medics put me into the ambulance, a gentleman approached me and asked if he could call someone for me. I was so shaken up that I couldn’t remember Daddy’s work number, so I told him where Daddy worked and asked him to call him. The gentleman went somewhere nearby, looked up the number, and called Daddy to tell him they were taking me to Springhill Hospital.
Having a teenage daughter now, I’m thankful for the cellphone. My daughter is about to turn 15, and even though she can’t drive, she is out and about on a regular basis. When she goes somewhere with friends, not only can she call me if she needs me, but I can track her if I need to. I try not to be that mom, but anytime I feel something isn’t right, I will use Find My iPhone. I trust her, but teens will be teens. We have the same policies my parents had: Use your best judgment. I trust you till you give me reason not to.
So yes, I’m thankful for cellphones. There are some bad things about them. They are a distraction. We can never get away from them. They interrupt us. But those same reasons they are bad make them good too. They’re a distraction? Sometimes I need a distraction. If I’m waiting for a long time in a quiet room, I welcome the distraction. We can be found anywhere? Sometimes we need to be found…like when our kids are sick at school, or when there’s an emergency. They interrupt things? Sometimes an interruption is a good thing…maybe an excuse to get out of a lengthy meeting. Did I ever mention I don’t like long meetings?
Viva la cellphone!