Me and My Cell Phone

A piece from the archive — April 2008

I found a batch of writings I posted almost 15–20 years ago. At the time, it was my way of teaching myself to write down my thoughts in general, and more specifically to write them in English. It was simple; write something, post it (and myself) in public out there, get the feedback and built on that. It’s interesting as well to read what the younger me what thinking back then!

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I got my first cell phone in 1997, new year’s eve to be more exact. The number even ended with xxx97, so I had a few hours to brag about that coincident. Getting a cell phone back was a big deal to me; I was finally part of the “guys with a mobile” trend. My earliest memory and my main excuse to convince my parents to get me one at that age was a story I heard while a friend of the family was having coffee with my dad. It was something about this friend’s brother, living in Canada, getting stuck somewhere off the road in a time of a blizzard.

Then it goes as how he called in the “Canadian’s version of 911” (I am sorry I am not familiar with the emergency line there), and how they came and rescued him. Of course using that story as the headline of my argument with my parents didn’t get me anywhere close to getting a phone. As most guys my age, I managed to find a way around it (behind their back) and got my cell phone. Goes without saying, I had to hide it for a few weeks, until I got busted and they just let it have it after a long argument about responsibilities and financial consciousness. I enjoyed owning a cell phone; I can be reached anywhere, I am always connected with my buddies, my contact list was full, from friends to tire shops and pest control phone number, just filling in any number I see. You never know what you might need them; such a strategy saved the Canadian! I moved to US a few years later, and as soon as I was able to get a phone, I was walking out of the Sprint Store with my new flip open mobile. With never ending text messaging, miss calls, alerts, alarms, notes, phone calls 24/7, and of course the built in games, my life was complete. I had my work, my friends, my car, my place, my girlfriend and the one that kept them all connected in my universe, my cell phone. “I own a cell phone”.

2004, celebrating my birthday out with my friends, some made it to the bar, some couldn’t due to time zone and geographical difference, but that was ok, I had my phone, I was popular that day. A sense of importance emerged every time I picked up that phone or checked a text message, “I am on demand”. Around 11pm or something, I went to use the bathroom, came back and found out my cell phone was GONE! Right off the table, in the plain sight of my friends, someone I knew took off with my phone thinking it was his (or so he said). Turn the lights on, shut off the music, everybody shut the fuck up. Where the hell is my cell phone? How did no one see him take it? It literary ruined my day, I felt violated, exposed, and manipulated. I called my cell phone number, even called the guy who took it, but he just didn’t pick up. There I was yelling at my friends, blaming them, just feeling pissed off. I even left the bar with a couple of my friends, went straight to the guy’s place looking for my cell phone, but he wasn’t there yet. We end up back in my place to “have fun”. All I think of is my cell phone and how the guy’s face will look like after I punch him. My world slowed down, I felt like I won’t be able to function right the next morning, I mean how would I? I was disconnected from the world, I am missing important calls, and what if there was an emergency! All my data on the cell is now exposed to him and to whom he ever wished to share with. I came up with a thousand excuses why I was so pissed off over it. The happy ending came next morning when I managed to reclaim my cell phone, and the earth can go on spinning again.

Sometime later I realized a little typo, or an arrangement of words in a certain phrase I said in 1997: “I own a cell phone”, the bold red marker came to correct that statement in 2005 into “I am owed by my cell phone”. It was a true, I always worried about it, I often checked the new phones out there, I treat it like my bodyguard, and without it I am helpless. My modern life seemed to depend on it. There was that assumption that when I lose a cell phone, TONS of important calls will be missed, emergencies won’t be responded to.

It’s 2008 now, been 2 and a half years without me accompanied with a cell phone. More than 800 days without owning a mobile, and I only encountered one incident where a cell phone would have come in handy and assisted it me in an emergency. We live in world dominated by possessions. We value our lives by what we got. I am not saying technology is not good, and that whatever assistance and comfort it can provide us is unneeded, I am simply stating that a piece of plastic or metal with few chips and Numpad can truly connect us with everyone, anywhere, anytime, but at the end of the day it is just a piece of plastic. I will be absurd to give that piece or any other piece the authority to determine our daily mood, or dictated how we react if they suddenly decided to break down. With so much around us, from technology to simple piece of furniture, decorations, souvenirs, cars…etc. we are the in control of them. We buy them, we sell them, exchange them, burn them, donate them, gift them… we decide. No wonder that the more you own, the more you have to lose. Sadly ownership is defined by materialistic possessions only, and we forgot the purpose and source behind them. Chuck Palahniuk in his novel Fight Club says: “Things you own end up owning you”…Well….only if you let them.

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