May 31 - June 6, 2012
Requiem to a Cell Phone The cell phone has become an indispensable tool of modern life with instantaneous worldwide communications in your pocket or purse. Check in at the office, call home, send and receive texts, photos, emails, and now with advanced technology devices like the Ipod and Ipad, you have a virtual highpower computer at all times. There are applications that give anyone the ability to set up a camera surveillance system at home and monitor all the cameras from a cellular device. It really is truly amazing. Everything that just 20 or 30 years ago was Star Trek science fiction is now a reality. Except for the “transporter” which scientists they are still working on. When the cell is sounding off one call after another, beeping, vibrating, playing “Yakety-Yak, Don’t Talk Back,” doing everything but exploding we wonder how did we ever get along before cell phones existed? Tke a minute and think back to the 1970s and 1980s to remember what life was like without a cellphone. Back then we all had an answering service. We’d call in to the exchange and a live operator would deliver our messages over the phone. Actually, I liked the personal touch. There was a live
human being on the other end of the phone. And, I could give them instructions that if someone calls back, tell them, “I’ll be home at eight,” or to “meet me at the deli at six.” It was more than just a machine – it was a real human being. The next big innovation was the answering machine. It had a little red light that would blink when you got a message. The first thing you would check when you got home was to see if the light was blinking and then rewind the little cassette tape to see if it was a bill collector, your boss or a hot date called. The tapes gave way to digital recording but the principle was the same. The answering machines did not have the personal touch of the answering services but they were a much cheaper alternative, and with remote pickup they functioned just the same as voice mail does today. Life in the office evolved much the same way. Companies would have receptionists and phone operators who would either put calls through or take messages. Then came voice mail. “Mr. Pitt does not seem to be answering. Would you like to be connected to his voice mail?” Needless to say, it didn’t take long for the bean counters to figure out
they didn’t need the receptionists anymore. My big revelation in the mid 1980s was figuring out how to handle call volume in the office. If I was working on a big project or busy in meetings, it was very distracting and disruptive to be interrupted continuously with calls. So, after a while of welling frustration, I devised a plan. I would let all the calls in the morning pile up and then around 11:30 a.m. or so, pickup the messages and make callbacks. I would repeat the process in the late afternoon. That was the only way I could get anything done and it worked well. Calls were made when I was able to concentrate on the matter at hand and I was free from distraction the rest of the time to actually get something done. And then along came cell phones. Whatever notions of organization and control over my life I might have had went to hell. I was now captive to this little device that could go off at any minute, day or night, and did. Just the other day, I was in the middle of a three way conference call on a cell phone when in the middle of that call, I got another call on an urgent real estate deal that I had to take. During that call, I received a text that was so long it actually came through
the mosh pit
By R.G. Pitt
in three parts. During the entire three-way conference call, I received three other calls that went to voice mail. With all those calls and messages, I some how managed to cutoff the original conference call, and spent the next 45-minutes retrieving voice mail messages, deciphering texts, answering calls from irate clients, and trying to figure out who else tried calling me and gave up. I have a recurring dream that I am going to take my three cell phones, drop them in the street and run them over with my car, savagely, violently and repeatedly, back and forth until they have been ground down and reduced to nothing but a pile of cracked and mangled parts. The next day I will mount the remaining fragments of my demon phones on a board and frame it, the final resting place for all the conspirators who have tormented me so ruthlessly over the years. The simple plaque, which will hang on my office wall, will read simply “Requiem to a cell phone. May I rest in peace.”
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