Cellphones are great, but they need booths

Published 8:45 am Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Column: Tales From Exit 22, by Al Batt

There used to be a time when we didn’t know things.

We’d have friendly arguments over the things we didn’t know.

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It made for spirited discussions that involved memory and knowledge.

These friendly arguments have developed a stutter.

Whenever there is a question, where we are not sure of something, someone looks up the answer on his smartphone. He Googles it.

There was a time when people didn’t spend all of their free time looking for Apple juice to charge up their iPhones.

A time when we used flare guns for emergencies instead of cellphones.

My grandparents’ lives were changed greatly by the introduction of electricity to homes and farms.

My life has been altered dramatically by cellphones.

I am not against cellphones. I own one, and I use it regularly. It is great for the directionally challenged. My mother thought that every direction was north, and I am her son. I can get lost driving to a corn maze. Maps can be misleading. A survey found that 74 percent of cellphone owners use navigational maps on the cellphone.

I enjoy asking my cell phone, “Are we there yet?”

I could watch a football game on my smartphone, but I’m not sure why.

Pew Research found that as of May 2013, 91 percent of American adults have a cellphone and 56 percent have a smartphone.

Do women find men without smartphones to be better listeners?

Cellphones allow everyone to think out loud. Anyone who has ever been in a public place has listened to one side of a cellphone user’s conversation. Few say anything that makes me hope that they’d keep talking. Remember telephone booths? Each phone booth contained a pay telephone. At least that’s what they were called. We know that every phone is a payphone. Each cellphone should come with its own phone booth. I’m just glad that the average cellphone user doesn’t spit as much as a baseball player. I shudder to think about that.

My neighbor Crandall stopped at a rest area, an oasis for the traveler of the interstate highways. He told me that he’d barely sat down in a restroom when he heard a voice from the neighboring stall saying, “Hi, how are you?”

Crandall has never been considered shut-mouthed and he’s friendly enough, but he’s not the type to start a conversation in the bathroom. However, he’s more than happy to pile on a conversation once it’s started. “Everything is nearly copacetic,” he replied.

The other guy said, “What are you up to?”

Crandall thought that considering the circumstances, it was an odd question, but replied, “Oh, I’m on my way to Cabela’s to look at alluring lures.”

The other fellow asked, “Can I come over?”

Crandall was trying to get out of there as fast as possible, yet still be polite in ending the conversation, “No, I’m a little busy right now.”

Then the guy said, “Listen, I’ll have to call you back. There’s an idiot in the next stall who keeps talking to me.”

Leaving the house without your cellphone, which you didn’t even have the first how many years of your life, is now cause for panic.

I was doing a video recently. It was a grueling 1 minute, 20 seconds long. I’ve done TV stuff for years and not long ago, did a 12-hour filming. I figured that 1 minute and 20 seconds would be a piece of proverbial cake. And it almost was.

I was babbling away in front of the camera, and it was perfect. Nothing even close to a flub in my words. Then I heard a rooster crowing. We were indoors. There shouldn’t have been a rooster crowing indoors. The filming came to an abrupt stop. The perfection would never be seen. All because of my ringing cellphone. That’s right, I’d forgotten to turn my cellphone off, my cellphone with a crowing rooster ringtone.

The affluent folks who live in my zip code play a game. They put all their cellphones in the middle of the table at the café while they eat. Whoever checks his or her phone first, picks up the check for everyone at the table.

It would be easier to check the cellphones at the door.

I admit that carrying a cellphone is much handier than walking around with a typewriter.

I don’t Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr or Instagram.

How about texting? Nothing but a dead battery can stop some people from texting.

I do text, but I do it on a phone with a rotary dial.


Hartland resident Al Batt’s columns appear every Wednesday and Sunday.