Sunday, September 5, 2010

“One ringy dingy (snort…) two ringy dingys…is this the party to whom I am speaking?”

If you are old enough to remember this skit from television, Ernestine the telephone operator, then you have probably experienced the three T’s…telephone technology trauma. I was forced into an upgrade on my cell phone yesterday which I enjoy about as much as going to a doctor. Something I never do either unless the wound is leaving blood splatter on the ceiling, then I at least think about it.

As I recall, the telephone was invented to communicate verbally between two parties located some distance apart. My needs therefore were simple at the phone store and perplexing to the young man who drew my name. Since when do we sign it at the reception table and wait to be called? Can I have a glass of wine too while waiting for my table? So the poor suspecting young man approaches my son and myself (my son being the interpreter because I don’t speak fluent techno-geek), drooling in anticipation of another overblown commission and I simply hold up my ancient flip phone at eye level, the one that is only a step beyond the antenna version and looking well loved (or frequently lost) and his eyes widen in shock. “How….how long since a….you know…..” he stammers. My son replies, she needs an upgrade, I’ll be over there. Before the drooler can even try his sales pitch on me, I give him mine. No text, no web, no cameras, no internet, no games, no projectors, no videos… see young man, I want to call people using the numbers 0-9 and I want people to call me, get it?

He shows me two flip phones as if going to the dirty movie section of a video store. One has a camera, one does not, but because one comes in red, I’m sold. Good enough, let’s go. (I buy cars that way too; they must be red and have 5 wheels). Son must interpret all the paperwork part because I am too snarky to deal with it. Rebates? Why not just cut the price right now? I embarrass him with my “ignorance”, a ruse I maintain so as not to be too distracted by the possibilities of technology that would take me away from actual art made with a brush. So why am I such a snit when it comes to phones? I don’t even like the ones with cords which I stubbornly maintain in my kitchen with a cord so short I can’t even reach the table to multitask. My main reason is that people don’t know when to shut up. Say what you have to say, ask what you have to ask, and then hang up. Long conversations are nice, but I tend to start doodling and stop paying attention and then have no idea what the person is talking about on the other end. Next thing I know, I am in charge of some event that is going to soak up all my free time.

I don’t need a camera on the phone. What if I am talking on the thing and see a really cool image I want to take? I can whip out my pocket camera and shoot while still listening to you (or not). I don’t need that text stuff. I told my son that when he is at college, he will call so I can hear his voice and we can have a conversation of merit because all the little snippets of life which will have been written down on a notepad to be shared, not tossed out as text treats every few hours. Also, he needs his freedom and independence like we had at his age. Call when you leave, call when you arrive, check in and so forth. I don’t need to helicopter over his every move and decision. He will gain life experience one way or the other as we did. I get people who say, but what if there is an emergency? Well, if I am driving and I get interrupted with a call that there is an emergency, then we will have two on our hands because mommy would probably panic and crash. Best to check for messages upon arrival, 911 is there for a reason, call them first, not me.

I don’t need to watch a movie on a 2” screen, I don’t need to play games or take videos…I like watching actual reality around me. I can check the weather by looking at the clouds. Remember when our grandparents taught us how to read the sky, listen for the insects and birds, or look at the leaves on a tree to know what weather is coming? I wear a watch to tell me the time, the kind with 12 numbers on it that goes around in a circle. I check email and snail mail when I get home. Paying attention to life around me is where I get my creative inspiration.

And ringers? Geeze….do we really need a different tune for every person? My son set mine to ring, like a telephone rings (how ancient is that?). I borrowed a phone that was set to make cricket noises as a ring tone. 5 women in a car panicking that a cricket is loose is not a good thing. Too bad the ringers can’t be voices like my navigator system. I’d love to overhear one say “hey moron, answer your pants already will ya?”. My favorite would be to hear “one ringy dingy (snort) two ringy dingys… and then just tell Ernestine to take a message, I’m busy driving, reading, painting, eating, having a glass of wine on the deck with my husband discussing our day, having dinner with my sons and catching up….I can call you back later because I know you will answer anytime, anyplace.


  1. I was told by the salesperson when I got my new phone that there is a 3 week 'learning curve'. So what does that mean? People think they called me and left a message but it will take me 3 weeks to find out how to retrieve messages or texts? Or set it so it actually rings when someone calls?? I just hand my phone to my son for him to set up for me too. I let him look it over every once in a while to see what needs adjusted. I'm sorry but cell phones and e-mail are getting to be like the telemarketing calls we used to get before the 'do not call' list.

  2. OMG... Your blog sounded so familiar to my Verizon experience 3 months ago!

    My 5 year old Nokia cell phone finally gave out so I needed a new phone.

    All I wanted was a basic cell phone, ... no need to take a picture ( have a camera), or text ( have a PC at work and at home ) , or play a game ( no time for that), or to check my email ( do that at work and at home ).

    So what happened last week?

    I started selling Banner Ads to the " Mobile Market " Audience for my employer, the Repository on ha ha

    Did you know that the typical mobile phone user carries his or her phone for an average of 14 hours a day.

    The 90 Million active mobile Web users in the US sent and received on average 480 text messages per month in the first quarter of 2010.

    Nearly 1/3 of the Smartphone users start their day with the mobile internet!

    The majority of mobile internet users are 25-44 and the people in the know are projecting that by 2014, the number of Mobile Internet Users will be greater than Desktop Internet Users! WOW!!!

    Well, I better go now and head down to my Verizon dealer so I can trade in my" Dumbphone" for a Smart one! ha ha

  3. Down to ground and realistic. I like that!