ANN BAILEY: Weekend without cell phone proves gadget is more luxury than necessity

I'm not someone who has to have the latest electronic gadget, but I have to admit I do like my cell phone. I especially like it in the winter because having it with me gives me a sense of security when I'm driving on drifted roads in the middle o...

Ann Bailey
Ann Bailey

I'm not someone who has to have the latest electronic gadget, but I have to admit I do like my cell phone.

I especially like it in the winter because having it with me gives me a sense of security when I'm driving on drifted roads in the middle of nowhere. In fact, the reason I got my cell phone in the first place was because my husband, Brian, was concerned about me driving solo on country roads and highways across the region during the winter of 1996-1997. We had resisted buying a cell phone until that time because back then they were pretty expensive and we figured it was more of a luxury than a necessity.

Security, convenience

However, that changed during the winter of 1996-1997, the huge amount of snow we received resulted in roads that were even tougher to travel than this winter's, and I was pregnant with our first child, Brendan, at the time. Brian didn't want me to get stranded during those road trips and sit there until someone found me. (My tummy was as big as a couple of basketballs, so shoveling the car out, myself, wasn't an option.) The cell phone didn't make navigating the roads easier, but it gave both of us some comfort knowing that I could call someone to come and rescue me.

I never had to use my cell phone to call someone to save me from a winter calamity that winter, and only once in the 14 that have passed since then, but it still gives me a good feeling to know it's with me in the car if I need it. It's also useful for coordinating schedules with my husband and children, when I'm away from home, letting them know if I've been delayed at work or checking with them to see if they need me to pick up anything when I'm at the grocery store.


Though, over the years, I've come to see there are advantages in owning a cell phone, I still don't consider them a necessity and believe there are places where using them can actually be a disadvantage, not as much to myself but to those around me.

No call list

For example, I turn my cell phone off before church, going out to eat with friends or during meetings. The reasons to do that seem obvious when it comes to church and meetings are obvious and I think most people do the same as I do. However, apparently staying off of the phone is not nearly as universal of a practice when it comes to eating in restaurants and I am surprised at how many people I see talking to someone on the phone when they are seated with friends or family members. Unless it's an emergency, it seems rude to me to ignore the people you are with to talk to someone else, so I refrain from doing it.

Another time when I avoid using my cell phone is when I am in the checkout line at a store. I've stood behind enough people who are talking on the phone while the clerk is trying to give them information about their purchase or give them their receipt, to know it's something that I want to avoid doing. As far as I'm concerned, people who are providing a service deserve to have my full attention and it doesn't seem polite to be talking to someone else when they're helping me with my purchases.

The majority of the time that I spend without my cell phone is when I'm at home. After talking on the phone much of the day at work, conducting interviews, I'm tired of phone conversations. More importantly, my time with my family is precious and my priority is to converse with them.

I don't carry my phone with me when I go outside of the house, either. I value the time feeding the horses, weeding in the garden or mowing the lawns as "quiet time" and don't want to be distracted by technology.

Making the call -- not

Given my relatively low attachment to my cell phone, it was an easy call for me to not go back to work to get my cell phone on a recent Friday when I realized I had left it at work. I was only a couple of blocks away when I remembered I had left it on my desk, so it wouldn't have involved a major time investment. The reason I left it was because 1.) I thought I could get along fine without it and 2.) I wanted to test that theory.


The realization that I was pretty used to carrying a cell phone with me occurred seconds after I made my decision to leave it at work. The first thought that popped into my head was that I should call a co-worker and ask him or her to put my phone in my desk. It was similar to the times when the power goes off at night and I'm searching for candles and then try to switch on a light so I can see better.

During the weekend, when I was out and about, there also were a few times when I started reaching for my cell phone, then realized I didn't have it. It was no problem, though, because I just waited until I got home to make the phone calls.

When I got to work on Monday, I was curious to see how many calls I had missed. There was only one, from one of my brothers. He had also tried my home phone number, so I really didn't miss the call, after all. Given the lack of calls, it appears my family and friends are as detached as I am. When it comes to cell phone use, that's a good thing.

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