Questioning need for new phone

By Karl Terry: CNJ columnist

At times I’m a little conflicted over technology. I love it for the most part but there are downsides.

Let’s take cell phones for instance. My contract is up and I’m thinking real hard about upgrading to a new model. Music and e-mail in my phone sound like handy things but then again I’m not nearly as fond of my cell phone as some folks are. As evidence the lady at the cell phone store told me I could probably downgrade my plan since I’ve accumulated 47,000 carryover minutes.

I don’t use my phone unless I need to — maybe with music and e-mail I would use it more often.

I’ve begun to notice my lack of cell phone addiction has maybe put me in the minority. Folks are using their phones all the time anywhere and everywhere and it’s a little annoying.

Take for instance the convenience store clerk I encountered recently.

I had my soft drink and was approaching the register when the female clerk said “Hi there handsome.” She was turned so I didn’t see the phone stuck to her ear and I blushed at the thought of this young woman being so forward. No such luck, she was on the phone with her honey and my checkout was completed without her ever getting off the phone.

Then there was the incident at the pharmacy this week that left me, and the guy behind the counter chuckling. A guy in front of me was picking up a prescription for his mom and didn’t know her date of birth — required to get the medicine. No problem, just whip out the cell phone and phone mom and ask her. Problem was that apparently mom was deaf as a stobb. The guy yelled the question through the phone, getting progressively louder to no avail. He finally pocketed the phone and left without the meds.

Working in retail at an automobile dealership, I get to experience first hand how rude people can be with their cell phone usage. Not bothering to end their call when you’re trying to help them. Taking a call while you’re doing a demo or worse yet on a test drive. It’s not just in that business, I see it everyday these days, people trying to carry on a phone conversation while doing something else that should be getting their attention.

The scariest I’ve seen lately is the folks driving down the road texting at 80 mph. It’s a little harder to figure out that’s what they’re doing during the day but at night that illuminated phone face in the dark cockpit of a vehicle is a dead giveaway. I cringe and move way over as they fly by me. If they’re not speeding then they’re in the left lane going too slow because they’re concentrating on their texting.

I passed the same woman three days in a row texting in the left lane with a baby in the back seat. She went real slow for awhile then sped up and passed. My first thought was to whip out my cell phone and dial 911 but I figured using my cell phone while driving to report someone driving and texting seemed a little silly.

Legislation has been proposed lately to make texting and driving against the law.

I say the darned things have become so dangerous that we really need to have everyone register their cell phones with the government and get a permit.

I can hear the opposition now, “When cell phones are outlawed, only outlaws will have cell phones.”

When it gets right down to it though I guess they’ll just have to pry my cell phone (with music and e-mail) from my cold dead fingers some day.