Always Accessible

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Always Accessible
by Joe Lavin


I was given this new cell phone at work, but I'm starting to think it's
defective. You see, it tends to ring a lot. Like, for example, I'll be minding
my own business walking to lunch, and suddenly it'll just start ringing.
Even worse, when I answer it, it'll often be someone asking me a question
about work. I'm thinking of calling the manufacturer to see if they can fix
it. It's really starting to bug me.

Yes, like many others, I have been dragged kicking and screaming into
the world of cellular phones. I long vowed I would never own a cell
phone, and to be honest I still don't. My employer owns it. I'm just the
one forced to carry it around.

I suppose it's really not so bad. It is convenient, and the phone can even
fit into the palm of my hand. It's a nifty little gadget, and part of me (the
part that forgets how evil cell phones are) likes having it. Yes, I can be
reached at any time, but I can also turn it off and let the calls go to voice
mail.

Of course, it's still tough to have a good excuse for ignoring the phone.

"I called earlier, Joe, but you didn't answer."

"Oh, sorry about that. I just went out for a second."

"So what? You have a cell phone."

"Um, I mean, I was in. That's it. I was in and couldn't get your call. Oh,
damn the batteries are running low, and I think I'm walking into a tunnel.
Let me get back to you."

While I may look oh-so-important when walking around with my cell
phone, the only reason that I have it is because I don't have a real phone.
My new job at Harvard is to go around to different departments and help
them pay bills with Harvard's new financial system. I'm rarely at my
desk -- hence, the evil cell phone.

I still feel squeamish about having it, and I have yet to make a call while
in public. After all, I just dont like having to subject others to my phone
calls. On some days, I dont even like subjecting myself to them.

And whenever it does ring, I feel slightly embarrassed. Well, actually,
first I look around confused for a second before exclaiming to whoever
I'm with, "Oh, that's me!" I'm not at all prepared to conduct a business
call while walking around. God forbid when someone actually gives me a
number. The other day, if by chance you saw an idiot on a cell phone in
the middle of Harvard Yard trying to use a tree as a writing surface for a
piece of scrap paper, that was me. Luckily, I did get the proper
information, but even then I managed somehow to schedule a meeting
for my day off.

To be honest, I really shouldn't feel so self-conscious. I'm certainly not
alone. I'm simply one of over 70 million Americans with a cell phone. All
over, cell phones are suddenly pervasive. More and more restaurant
owners have been forced to ban cell phones so that people will stop
yakking into them during meals. Many theater owners have complained
about cell phones ringing in the middle of plays and movies.
Increasingly, states are even considering laws restricting the use of car
phones.

And then there are the people at sporting events. Lately, I've been
watching the baseball playoffs, and during most every game you will
now see some loser sitting behind home plate with a cell phone waving
at someone on the phone. I suppose it's an innocent act, but it still makes
one yearn for a sudden foul ball.

"Hi, Mom. It's me. I'm on TV. See me waving. Right where the foul ball is
about to -- AAAAARGGHH!"

Not that I should really wish such a thing on anyone, but there's
something about cell phone users that most people hate. Well, let me
correct that. Most people would hate them except that most people are
now starting to own cell phones of their own, and so it becomes more
difficult to hate the cell phone users.

Especially for me. After all, if you want to reach my apartment, you can
now do so with one of four different numbers. My roommate Anna and I
have separate phone numbers, and each of us has a cell phone too.

I have a feeling that we might just be a little too connected to the world.
You think?


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