Are Cell Phones Worth the Trouble?, 2024 Judge’s Choice

By Les Tanner

“Cindy!  CINDY!!”

“Hold it a second already. I’m all set to tee off.”

Your car!

I turned to see what Deb was yelling about.  Someone was just getting into my husband’s sleek little red sports convertible.  Bob had grudgingly let me borrow it for this afternoon’s match since my non-sleek, not-so-little, once-blue van was in the shop for replacement of some doohickey or other that was leaking a lot of really smelly goop.

I’d seen the young man looking the car over earlier, but hadn’t thought much about it.  Deb and I had come down here to play a bit of disc golf.  The tee was 40 or 50 yards or so from where I’d parked.  Cascade is a small town where not much happens in the way of crime, so I’d left the keys on the dashboard in front of the driver’s seat as I always do when I’m in town.


Oops.  I got off the point there.  Sorry.

I guess I haven’t even mentioned the point yet, have I?  I have a true and passionate dislike/hatred of cell phones.

If I were a teenager, I’m sure I’d have one grafted onto my left hand.  But I’m far from being a teenager, at least not in body.  Frankly, I’m an old broad just four months from being sixty—sixty—years old!  I know it to be a fact, though, whenever I look in the mirror or count my pills or open my clothes closet.

Back when I was growing up in the late ‘60s and ‘70s cell phones weren’t around.  I guess the first real cell phone was made in 1973 and weighed about four pounds.  I was familiar with those desk phones that had buttons, but dial phones and phone booths—working ones—and the like were more common.

My dad remembers when you had to dial the operator to make a phone connection.  And there was a comic strip character named Don Tracy—maybe it was Dick Tracy—who had a wrist watch that was also a radio.  Maybe even a TV.  But that was long before my time.

These days it seems that most phones are cell phones.  A lot of these are called “smart” phones (I have no idea why) and they seem to be the rage.  Maybe rage isn’t the right word.  Necessity is probably closer, at least to most folks, and not just to teenagers or the “in-crowd”.  Most of the other ladies in my bridge club have them.  So do folks at church, and there’s not much that’s more annoying and inappropriate than having a phone ring (or chirp or buzz or whatever they do) while the minister is leading us in the “Lord’s Prayer”.  Is there no decency left in this world?

For reasons like that I have—had—steadfastly refused to buy, rent, accept as a gift, or by any means become the owner of a cell phone.  But a few months ago I fell in the back yard and couldn’t get up.  Bad knees.  It was only when my best friend Debbie Bingham came looking for me three hours later that I was able to get up and get back into the house.  Luckily, no real damage was done.  It happened on a nice, dry April afternoon, too.  But what if it had been January?

The result: At the insistence of my husband, Will, our kids and our grandkids, as well as Debbie and several others, I became the owner/intended-user of a smart phone.  It didn’t take more than a couple of weeks of fiddling with it, though, before I became the hater/victim of that electronic beast.

As they say, “Let me count the reasons.”

   I can’t figure out how to turn it on and off.  I have no clue what all of those little bitty things called “icons” stand for.  Every time I touch it when it is on, something happens that I don’t want to happen.  If I hold it wrong, it goes bananas (and so do I).  I can’t ever find it.  When I do, the battery seems to be dead.  For it to be useful, I need to have it with me all of the time.  Where do I carry it?  It weighs a ton and causes bulges in my clothes (where there are already too many bulges). And so on and so forth.  I’m sure there’s a word limit to this, so I’ll leave it at that.

But my smart phone does, or should I say did, have one important use.

To clarify that statement, I will now return to the beginning of this tale:

…. I had seen this guy on a moped or whatever those things are called checking out the car, almost from the moment we’d driven up.  But the Cascade Sports Complex is a very public place, so I didn’t think much about it.

The game that Deb and I were going to play is called Disc Golf, and it has become quite the rage.  At least it has here in Cascade.  Not only that, but a map I found on the Web shows there are disc golf courses all over Idaho.

It doesn’t involve much equipment, just a disc and good shoes.  And maybe a special glove, but I don’t know about that.  It’s great exercise, involves a lot of walking, and usually plenty of gossip, depending on who’s playing with whom.  I’ve never been much for participating in sports.  Wrong size and wrong temperament, among other things,  But I do have a strong throwing arm, maybe because I’ve spent almost forty years stocking shelves and doing similar duties at the hardware store in town.

   When I’m playing disc golf, I carry a bag in which there are an extra disc, a bottle of water, some tissues, and some chapstick.  And because I’d recently become a smart-phone “user” (as if), I’d put the thing in the bag.  Maybe someone would steal it.  One can only hope.

My first reaction to Deb’s call, and to seeing what was about to happen, was to drop the disc I was about to throw and start running toward the car, yelling (shrieking, actually) “Get away from there, you pervert!”  He had hopped on his moped thingy and was about to skedaddle.

My second reaction was to reach in my bag and grab something.  Maybe my spare disc. If I threw it toward the guy, maybe he’d chase it.  He looked like he might be into that kind of stuff.

The next thing I grabbed was the water bottle.  Pretty useless at the moment, so I tried again.

The next thing that came out was my phone.

“What are you going to do with that?” called Deb   “Call the police?”

What to do?  What to do?

It was not a decision, just a reaction—and I suddenly discovered the perfect use for that dreadful phone.  I wound up and with my best disc-throwing motion I sent that nice, flat, rectangle sailing in a perfect left-to-right arc.

And that smart phone finally worked perfectly for me.  There’s nothing that stops a moped quicker than a front wheel that’s been totally shredded by a hurtling, spinning, half-pound chunk of metal and plastic.

I’m just glad it didn’t hit the guy.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *