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Thursday, August 21, 2014
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    The ‘Art of Loss’ …and Cell Phones

    by | Jul 22, 2010

    The bald-headed, naked truth is that I am about to lose it.

    I am really good—maybe even extraordinary — at what one might term “the art of loss.” Coats, gloves, hats, golf clubs, car keys, eyeglasses, and wallets have slipped through my watery grip and ‘butter’  fingers with more regularity than I care to admit. ‘Bumbershoots’ are a particular specialty. I have misplaced enough of these to keep a small town bone dry during a monsoon, especially if that small town was, say, the size of Chicago. (The umbrella that you found in your office recently, was more likely than not, originally lost by Cantrell.) At one time or another, I have forgotten the location of my car, lost a sofa from the bed of a pick-up truck and once, for eighteen hellish minutes, lost an eight-year-old nephew at the mall!

    The “it”—i.e. the item ‘most likely’ to be lost this time— is my new cell phone. Officially named the ‘Techna Wizard 990, it replaces my recently deceased “Brick 100.” The latter died two weeks ago, after a decade of faithful service.  Towards the end, the Brick just failed to respond t0 anyone. It was also leaking what looked an awful lot like transmision fluid.

    The old phone had been contemptuously nick-named ‘Old Yeller’ by my friends and family as it was said that this is what I morphed into when taking–or making—calls on the thing. Its replacement is an all-seeing, all-knowing, omnipotent, vibrating, “whirring” dervish of transmitters, receivers, “radar cameras’” “space eyes,” Zodiac calendars, hurricane predictors, laser alarms, and all manner of geosynchronous “do hickeys”. Among its various and sundry features is what appears to be an atomic clock. (The cell phone company, I guess, envisions me as having frequent footraces with real, live atoms.)

    The new phone’s brochure boasts of a “…a sleek, sexy, art-deco, aerodynamic design”. Sexy!? Aerodynamic!? —the latter feature, being useful, I guess for throwing  the Wizard great distances after unsatisfactory encounters with cellular customer service. (Of course, you’d think  that if that were the case, they would’ve designed the damn thing in the shape of a boomerang.) The Wizard’s list of features baffles my already boggled mind —so much so that I am actually tempted to violate one of the main precepts of The Testosterone Credo and actually crack what seems to be a 1,500-page Instruction Manual and Online Tutorial. (To my male readers: Fear not,  I have not as yet succumbed to this temptation. Pray for me though.)

    Our relationship worked—-me and the Brick’s. For one thing, it was impossible to lose—even for Cantrell. It had size and weight and ‘heft’—about three kilograms as I recall. It was a cell phone for a real man—especially if that man was, say, Jim Brown or possibly Sasquatch. The phone grew hot if more than two calls came in within a short period of time. Because of a cracked facade and “exposed innards,” you could actually smell the acrid smoke of an incoming call. (No need for one of those ubiquitous, obnoxiuos ringtones so prevalent among today’s state-of-the art models.) About ninety seconds into any cellular conversation Old Yeller would overheat, giving me a great excuse to either end the call or going to find an oven mitt. Receiving and making calls was more than a mere business transaction or handling a family matter, it was  confirmation that the owner still had an above average threshold of pain. (You can bet that the new, “fancy, dancy” ‘art deco’ Tehna Wizard doesn’t give you that same reaffirmation of manhood!)

    Over the years. I’d managed to keep Old Yeller working through the deft use of paper clips, tin foil, rubber bands and a weekly drop of Freako’s Bar-be-que Sauce. And the thing functioned well too…in reasonably close  proximity to the carrier’s headquarters, although elsewhere, signal reception could be ‘dubious’.  A deal breaker for many users, I found the lack or range and spotty reception to be  beneficial when trying to avoid bill collectors, relatives wanting to either borrow money or visit, as well as insufferable telemarketers.

    My new carrier, Inter-Galactic Mobile, boasts that users can talk with anyone at anytime as long as the call is initiated within two million light years of Earth. Now, (sadly, I might add), anyone can chat me up, even “ET”—to say nothing of those same relatives seeking to borrow money or visit. (I vaguely even remember the Wizard salesman mentioning something about now being able to talk with dead people—- though I remain steadfast in my refusal to try.)

    Another reason that me and the Brick, “got along” was that it minded its own business—unlike the Wizard, which minds mine. It constantly pushes, prods, scolds, rebuffs and reminds me of “Things to Do” —-meetings, birthdays, reports that are due, and trash that needs to be taken out. The Wizard does not readily accept excuses for missed appointments, deadlines or non-performance either. (Perhaps it would be more aptly named  the Conspiracy 2010.) The thing is sneaky too. Last week, after I fell asleep, it went behind my back and without my permission or authorization, it contacted one of those Internet travel agencies and booked a two week cruise to Jamaica! I hope that among its myriad of features is a part-time job so that it can afford to pay for the trip.

    As you can surmise, me and The Wizard are still getting to know each other. So far our relationhip is tenuous and uneasy. The Wizard is having ‘its way’ with me. My talent at the ‘art of loss’ may, for once, come in handy.

    And soon too.

    ###
    Will Cantrell

    Will Cantrell

    Will Cantrell (a pseudonym) is a writer, storyteller, and explorer of the milieu of everyday life. An aging Baby Boomer, a Georgia Tech grad, and a retired banker, Cantrell regularly chronicles what he swears are 'mostly true'  'everyman' adventures. Of late, he's written about haircuts, computer viruses, Polar Vortexes, identity theft, doppelgangers, bifocals, ‘Streetification’, cursive handwriting, funeral planning and other gnarly things he’s dealt with in an increasingly more and more crazy-ass world.   As for Will himself, the legend is at an early age he wandered South, got lost, and like most other self-respecting males, was loathe to ask for directions. The best solution, young Will mused, “was just to stay put”. All these years later, he still hasn't found his way but remains  a son of the New South. He was recently sighted somewhere close to I-285, lost, bumfuzzled and mumbling something about “...writing' his way home.” Of course, there are a lot of folks who think that “Cantrell ain't wrapped too tight” but hope that he keeps writing about his adventures as he finds his way back to the main highway.

     

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    • http://www.billyhoward.com Billy Howard

      I was going to call and let you know I liked the story in person but I can’t find …. oh well, you understand.

    • http://www.irvinproductions.net Trevor Irvin

      Will, that phone sounds like trouble to me. I had a cell phone once… I hated the damn thing. I never actually got out of the menu function long enough to use it. I gave the stupid device to my kid, told him he could have it if he never brought it near me again, and that was the end of that. I take all my calls now from a phone booth down the street.

      Oh, by the way you left an umbrella over here …

      T

      • http://bigboomtheory.blogspot.com Will Cantrell

        Trevor, I always figured that you were one of the smartest people that I knew. Pawning the cell phone off on your kid though is perhaps one of the smartest things that you’ve ever done. The kid may well be getting another cell phone from his ‘Uncle Will’ any day now. The absolute smartest thing that you’ve done is actually finding a phone booth these days. I thought that they became extinct along with the dinosaurs.

        As a brief aside, cell phones may well be the most insufferable device EVER made…maybe even more so than taxes …or even chitlins’. I am convinced that the cell phone is some kind of communist plot (although it maybe a right wing plot because you can bet that Dick Cheney is somehow involved.) The thing that I can’t figure out is how we adults ever let ourselves be talked into HAVING the damn things in the first place. You’d think that the rest of us (i.e. everybody but you) would have had better sense than to be sucked into this conspiracy. I tell ya, we shoulda seen it coming….

        • http://www.littlewallaby.com Frank Povah

          Yes, Will -- how DID we get sucked in to having the bloody things? But here in Kentucky they are fighting back. It is now illegal to text while driving (though you may still search for numbers and dial numbers and text – yes – emergency services) . The penalty for same is a whopping $84 and $200 for a second and subsequent offences, fair dinkum…$84. You can still TALK on the beast while driving, however.

          The other day I watched a woman in Georgetown, where they have nose-in angle parking, climb into her enormous Dodge Ostentatious (I think that’s what it was) and, in this order, begin talking on her phone, start the motor, light a cigarette, reverse into the traffic, turn left at the nearby street, signal the turn. Maybe she fastened her seatbelt at the lights, I’m not sure.

          We have no cell phone reception at home -- that is a GOOD thing. Once you tell people that, they tend not to call you on the damned thing.

    • Alex Kearns

      Bwahahaa…soon Canadians will rule the world for you can neither talk nor text while driving in an increasing number of provinces. Eventually there will be more of us (given that the US population keeps answering the phone in the car -- and hanging up…wrapped around hydro poles). Consider, too, the fact that when men carry their cells on their belts it contributes to impaired sperm motility, hence less procreation. (Okay, I confess: it’s all a nefarious world-domination plot by the Canadian Federal government and Bell Canada).

      I watch the “children” frantically, endlessly, texting and have come to the conclusion that, through evolutionary processes, the human race will soon be creatures with tiny shrunken brains and massive, mutant thumbs.

    • http://www.anjailahmad.com Anjail Ahmad

      Will,

      I love the way you artfully sum up the not-so-cozy relationship many of us have with cell phones that seem to sprout a new, seductive model laden with seemingly endless features (whether needed or not) just about every other week. I enjoy your sometimes sarcastic and always humorous tone. Looking at our own behavior is not always easy, but you manage to make us want to do this and we have learned to appreciate it. You are truly gifted. Thanks for lightening our collective load!

    • Meg Gerrish

      I completely adore my cell phone. It sits quietly on the desk, waiting patiently for a trip to the market or some other outting. At that time, I put my fairly snazzy (but not news-worthy snazzy) cell phone into the special slot in my purse where it seems happy just to be getting out of the house. And if my cell phone needs to step up for a project, at that time I turn it on, push buttons to make a call or check an appointment, and with the task completed I turn it off. I love how it accepts messages even while it’s turned off. And besides that, not that this is special either, but besides that, I can make long-distance calls at no extra charge. Sweet!

      So the secret to our successful relationship? The Power Off button. Love it.

      • http://bigboomtheory.blogspot.com Will Cantrell

        Hey Meg:

        Sounds like you’ve discovered the secret. I’ve tried to turn the thing off a time or two, but still can’t quite figure out how to do it. (By way of full disclosure, I must admit that your friend, ‘Cantrell,’ is a bit of a ludite.)

        If I still haven’t figured out how to turn the damn thing off by the time the bill is due, I am just not going to pay the damn thing. I figure that will get it turned off for good!

        Also, my phone is not well mannered like yours. Every time that I get ready to go somewhere, I can’t find seem to find it. I regularly find it under the sofa or between the cushions. I can only surmise that it has secret legs that it sprouts when no one is looking and then crawls around the house to play ‘hide and seek’ with me. Of course, I also worry that during these periods it is also “tom-cattin’” around and trying to mate with other automated devices to bring even more unwanted modern stuff into the house. Will

        • Meg Gerrish

          Confession time, Will: I, too, occasionally have to get serious about turning the phone off. I’m afraid I made it sound oh-so-easy in my reply, but the phone is reluctant on that score. It wants to stay and play. I want it to shut up. We are each tenacious, but I always win. The real flaw in my Power Off relationship with the cell is that when the phone goes missing, I can’t make it ring out and give up its location with a call from someone else’s phone.

          Fortunately, I’m fairly good at keeping track of stuff. Everything in its place has always been easy for me. To your Loss Of Stuff troubles, I have considered acquiring a fishing vest with lots o’ pockets for traveling purposes, making sure all necessaries are on my person and not counted by the airlines as “luggage.” Perhaps, Will, you might consider such a garment, securing all pens, notepads, eyeglasses, car keys, wallet, remote controls, and of course, the cell, conveniently upon your person. Then, when something goes missing, you merely need to stand in place and check all the pockets — pat, pat, pat, pat — until the “missing” item reveals itself.

          You won’t get the same exercise benefit you currently enjoy from being ever on the hunt, but, oh well! — Regards

    • Beth Rennie

      Always looking for your next article.
      This article was very relevant in today’s society.
      As you know I am a Techie and think that this is quite funny.
      Keep up the good work.

    • http://joanie19.wordpress.com Joanie

      Will, now if the “Wizard” had a real brain that would have been scary. As to “Ole Yeller” did you ever try super glue?

    • Marilyn

      RIP “Ole Yeller” Great story….always can count on getting a laugh when reading your work. Keep up the good work. :)

    • http://enterthelaughter.com Marti

      Loved your story -- very funny!

      I have a cell phone but I don’t like it. When my old one died I got whatever upgrade was free and it is so funky! I can’t find missed calls until I miss another one and it graces me with a list of them -- but I’d have to write them down on PAPER because as soon as I click on one, the list disappears! LOL! I can’t figure out half of the settings on it and it changes ringers for no apparent reason. I think it’s haunted *grin*

    • http://jackdejarnette.org Jack deJarnette

      I started my cell phone relationship with a brick, actually it was more like a concrete block. My cell phone expertise evolved as did cell phone technology. Ultimately I became an IPhone aficionado. When I retired I decided that I no longer needed all of the apps that I had come to depend on, so I sold the dumb thing. I went to the local ATT store to purchase a basic model that simply made and received calls. To my chagrin I found that ATT did not have such a device.

      I ordered one of those cell phones made for seniors with the much larger key pads and no capacity beside being a phone. After several uses I discovered that I am not the old fart I had thought myself to be. I returned to ATT with egg on my face, paid a premium price, and fed my IPhone addiction. I now have the G3 model with more apps than ever, even one that locates the phone for me when I lose it.

      I have managed the art of texting and keep my grandchildren enthralled with my technological prowess.

      • http://bigboomtheory.blogspot.com Will Cantrell

        Jack…Jack…Jack. Your comments are very funny. Disturbing—-but very funny nonetheless. (In fact, I hope you don’t mind if I steal the line about the ‘concrete block’ for a future piece). The part about you learning to be proficient enough to send and receive text messages is a little worrisome though. It means that you’ve stayed in touch with reality. Maybe nobody told you but us older guys are not supposed to be experts on anything more technical than actually dialing a phone…er, ‘punching the buttons’. Please be considerate of the rest of us and ‘get with the program’. You’re giving the rest of us a bad name. Now, that our younger kinfolk and others know that we can actually master “this stuff”, we will no longer be able to feign incompetence as a reason for not text messaging, etc., etc. I hope that you’re proud of yourself. Will

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    Happy Left-hander's Day

    By: Mike Cox

    August 13th is National Left-handers’ Day. I will celebrate quietly. I’m not sure about my sister; she is also a southpaw. That means our parents created two left-handed children, well above the national average of 10 to 13 percent. If you believe human traits are the result of parenting and choices from our youth, my parents did something radical to create this high percentage of southpaw children, something I wasn’t aware of. If you accept science, and think we are preprogrammed with certain traits then it was a matter of chance. Being left-handed used to be a tough way to live. Every relig  Read on →