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Author: Larry Simoneaux
Date:  November 1, 2009

Topic category:  Other/General

One less distraction.

My cell phone died last week.

Trust me, it wasn’t from overuse. I only have it because my doctor, my wife, and a friend or two convinced me to get one.

Anyway, last week while I was in the Okanogan, I remembered that I’d told my wife that I’d check in every now and then to let her know that alI was well and nothing hurt too much. So I pulled out my phone, hit the “on” key, and nothing happened. Zero. Zip. Nada. No cute tones and nothing but black on the screen.

My hunting partner was a full-fledged member of the “always in touch” crowd and he tried to help.

“Pull the battery out and put it back in again. It might be a poor connection.”

I tried that. No luck.

“When was the last time you charged it?”

“Just before we left home and it hasn’t been on since.”

“You may have a problem. It might really be dead.”

“How would that be a problem?”

“You wouldn’t be able to contact anyone when you wanted to.”

“I’ve always been able to contact someone when I wanted to. Sometimes it just takes a bit of time.”


Later, back at camp, we tried a few more things which basically cemented the fact that my cell phone (did I mention it was the cheapest and most basic unit I could buy at the time?) was toast.

Anyway, when I got home, I told my wife what had happened and, shortly thereafter, headed off to buy a new one.

The title of the old Robert Heinlein novel “Stranger in a Strange Land” pretty much applied to my presence in the cell phone store. I’ve seen the ads on television for “3G” networks, all of the new “apps,” and have watched what the young guys at work do with their “phones,” but it’s all beyond me - mostly because I want it to be. So, when a young man at the cell phone store came up to see what I needed, I told him what had happened to my old cell phone and that I needed a new one.

“What features are you looking for?”

“I want to be able to make and answer phone calls.”

“Do you want to take pictures?”


“Do you want to send text messages?”


“Do you need to connect to the Internet?”

“Nope. I just want a simple phone. Got one like that?”

He did and it only cost nine dollars. He was even able to rescue something called a “sim card” from my old one so that I didn’t have to re-enter the 13 contacts stored in my directory. I was out of there in about 20 minutes.

I’m not sure what all of this means, but I’m pretty sure that the “connected” world has passed me by. I really didn’t notice when that happened and, from what I can tell, the effects haven’t been all that bad.

I already think that I have too many things to deal with and being constantly “in touch” would just add to that pile. Too, it seems as if we already tend to pass too many good things by without noticing - and I’m as guilty of that as the next person.

For instance, a couple of years ago, a world-renowned violinist named Joshua Bell dressed himself in everyday clothes, stood inside of a D.C. metro station, and began playing classical music on a $3.5 million dollar violin.

Hardly anyone stopped to listen. And, no, it wasn’t because they were all on cell phones. It’s just that they were too distracted or too focused on other things to notice that something very good was happening within just a few feet of them.

But, then again, I recently read about a young lady who was so busy text messaging while walking down a street that she fell into an open manhole.

Things like that last are becoming a lot more common these days and it makes me think that “24/7” communication isn’t all it’s cracked up to be and might even be dangerous.

Still, I have a new phone. It just spends most of its time in the “off” mode.

Which works just fine for me.

Larry Simoneaux

Biography - Larry Simoneaux

Larry Simoneaux is a regular columnist for The Everett Herald in Washington state. He is a retired ship driver for the US Navy and NOAA.

Copyright © 2009 by Larry Simoneaux
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