Sunday, January 06, 2008

Cellular decay

Well, we've joined the 21st century. This week we bought a cellphone. Probably doesn't seem like a momentous purchase, but we live in a community without cell service, and one that is soundly resisting all efforts by communications companies to bring it into the cellular era. So we feel guilty and traitorous. But our trips to Calgary have shifted the balance for us. After realizing how many delays and extra stops and inconveniences for both ourselves and the people we're trying to meet up with the lack of a cellphone has caused, I finally bit the bullet.

In homage to my Ludditish community roots (and in keeping with my basically frugal nature, as well as my desire for simplicity) I bought one that doesn't have a radio, a camera, an MP3 player, internet access or any other bells and whistles. It's a phone, and just a phone. Okay, I lie. It has a couple of lame games, and also a ring-tone composer, which the kids gravitated to immediately, setting me up with a ringtone that is the first phrase of the 2nd movement of the Telemann Violin Concerto in G major. That I can live with. It has about 100 minutes of time on it, and that won't expire until January 2009 if we don't use it up -- which we may not, since we'll only be able to use it 2-3 days a month, when we're in the city.

We took calls from four different people in Calgary. Yes, we could have phoned them or e-mailed them our hotel number, but that will change every trip, and our cell number will stay the same and that makes it simpler for others. The cellphone also works even before we've checked in to the hotel, which we don't do until after we've had our first day in the city. On the way home we were stopped and re-routed (a 3-hour detour) around an accident on the TransCanada highway that had closed both lanes. I used a payphone to let Chuck know about the delay, because one was handy, but later Noah delightedly used the cellphone to call home again and update him on our slower-than-expected detour, letting him know we'd be on the 7 pm ferry and likely not home until almost 9.

So far so good. Assuming cell service doesn't come to our community, I think it will be a very helpful addition to our travels. If we do get cell service "at home" at some point, I think it will be as if the ground has tilted, and we probably will start sliding down a slippery slope.


  1. Congrats on joing the 21st century--I think!

  2. Ah, don't you love those "necessary evils?" Wow, ring-tone composer? I could like that! Sign me up ;-)

  3. Anonymous1:27 a.m.

    I too have the simplest one available - tho a *much* older model. Megan programmed the ring-tone - Bach, I think - plus the vibrate function, as I never hear the phone in the traffic noise of the town centre if I'm on foot. Also a cheerful message of 'Hi Mum, hav a nice day!' which pops up every time it's switched on. I only ever use if for 'arrangements' - never to chat!


  4. We're the opposite...only cell phones, we don't have a landline at home.

    It absolutely shifted us, but for the better.

    I hope you find it useful, yet unobtrusive, in your travels.


  5. Mary, I think the main reason we prefer limited land-line service (no voice mail, etc.) is that both Chuck and I are involved in providing services to our very small community on a variety of fronts and levels, while simultaneously having social relationships with most of those same people. He works crazy clinic and hospital hours on-call, I provide mental health and sexual health care support to many people in the community, and we value the time when we're 'unavailable' very much indeed. It is also hard to make sure that our friends have the same intuitive sense of boundaries between social and professional relationships. At a violin lesson I was just asked a bunch of health-related questions, and already this morning a friend/patient called me for advice about parenting stress and anxiety attacks. Most people "get it" that they shouldn't bother us at home about health-related stuff, though not everyone. If we had cellphones, the distinction between home and work would be made far muddier. I'm also involved in countless volunteer activities and non-profit groups. If I don't purposely make myself unavailable a lot of the time, I get inundated with phone calls that should really be going to other people -- and I start to lose the time for myself and my family that I need. I realize that cellphones can be turned off, but with cell service comes higher expectations for availability ... and that's what I'm leery of.


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