Sunday, October 23, 2005

Worrywart -or- Why I Love Cell Phones

I remember clearly the days before cell phones were so common... actually before there were cell phones. When I was a young adult, the only other commonly used means of communication, that is, other than the telephone (aka land line in today's world), was a C.B. radio. (Citizens Band, as opposed to those channels reserved for government agencies such as police, or for rescue.) 10-4 Good Buddy, Smokey comin' your way.

And that's pretty much the extent of my C.B. lingo, because I never had one. Watched 'Smokey & the Bandit' though. Back when Burt was a dreamy hunk (and a good guy).

When Kev & I bought our 80 acres, we didn't have enough money to build a house right away, so we built a big pole barn and finished off half of it into living quarters. Quickly, because our house in town sold the week we put it up for sale... and we had planned on it taking at least 6 months. The new owners met our price, no haggling, but their one condition was they wanted to take possession pretty much immediately. So we hurriedly pack up, rented a crappy little house for the summer and worked on our land and pole barn.

When we moved into our pole barn, it was a cold day in early October. Living conditions were still rough because it wasn't entirely finished. Bare 2x4s and cement floor. No electricity yet, so we had a generator. Only heat was by our wood stove (well, that remains the case to this day). And no telephone.

Kevin was working a 7 & 2 swing shift at the time - worked 7 days in a row and then 2 days off, so the days off came at any time during the week. Swing meant 7 midnights, 2 days off, 7 afternoons, 2 days off, 7 days, etc. And his building was busy, so mostly he was working 12-hour or 16-hour shifts, and no days off. For weeks & weeks. Truly, he worked about 3 or 4 months with no days off (but that's another story). So I rarely got to see him, and he had no time to work on the pole barn, and I had no telephone. I did try to use a C.B. radio (borrowed from my sister), but we could never get it to work, probably because we were in the middle of the woods and couldn't get a signal.

What I remember most about those days was that I missed Kevin dreadfully, and I worried about him CONSTANTLY. If he was 10 minutes late, I imagined all the worst things that could have happened. And no telephone.

We finally did get a phone line the following April, but only because I took a different job with my employer, and with it, I needed to have a computer at home. My employer paid for the line ($1,500 which was a king's ransom to us then; we were flat out broke) and more importantly, got the telephone company to actually move us up in their schedule. Clout counts with the phone company. Basically, the phone line allowed me to sleep, because I could call Kev at work at any time. It also allowed me to work pretty much 24-7 because the West Coast guys were constantly calling me late at night to run ad hoc reports for them left & right. I still think it was worth it.

So now nearly everyone has a cell phone. In our family of 4, 3 of us have cell phones, and my 10-almost-11-year-old wants one for his birthday (he will be disappointed). Most of my family members have one, too. I love it. I love being able to reach my family at almost any time.

Kev is cell-phone-challenged, though. He kept his first one for over 4 years, and I finally insisted he get a new phone. He has no idea how to retrieve his voice mail, and he never updates the phone. Often, he will forget his phone or he'll take it, but forget to turn it on.

Drives me batty. The good news is, though, that I'm simply irritated, not worried.

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