Efficiency and the Device


I have cellphone service again. I went two whole days without it… and I was musing on how when I was a kid, we didn’t even have a telephone in the house. Or electricity, but that’s beside the point. Had there been an emergency, at a few years in my life, going for help would have involved a half mile run, ride on pony, or bicycle ride (or walk, because when it is more than 20 below zero you don’t run. It’s bad for your lungs). My mother didn’t drive until I was in my later teens, and Dad was frequently working hundreds of miles away. We were lucky to have people that close to us. 

All that in my past, and I was so very stressed the last couple of days trying to resolve the issues with my phone that arose when I tried to switch services. Which, by the way… do not try to use Visible Wireless. They may be cheap, but you get what you pay for. Which in my case was cheerful, confident incompetence. They had no idea what they were doing, but they were friendly while assuring me they were fixing the problem! Which was, I realized by the end, that they had sent me a defective SIM card. Easy fix. Never even occurred to them to try. I really, really do not like to be bold-faced lied to, and told that I must be doing something wrong while I am jumping through the hoops they hold up and keep switching out. So I paid a little more, had service in two minutes, and my phone number ported and usable in three minutes. T Mobile is a strong contender to take down the erstwhile giant of Verizon (Visible is a subsidiary of Verizon). Them, I recommend. The store folks were friendly AND knew what they were doing, which was delightful. See what a difference that is, Visible? 

Back to my rambles, though. Why was I so stressed over being without the phone? Because like so many other labor-saving devices in our lives, it enables our grasps to far exceed our reach. 

The First Reader was wondering why I wouldn’t just take and use his phone during those two days. Because it wasn’t just that I wanted a communication device. I use my phone to keep lists – so many lists – to pay bills, to track the budget, to keep track of my diet and exercise. I use it to update this blog if I am out of pocket and can’t reach a real computer (and let me tell you, wordpress is not friendly to mobile interface on the backend). You do what you have to, and the modern woman is expected to juggle a myriad of household duties while she works at a career. I’m telling you, this little rectangle with the glowing screen is a lifesaver. 

And the fact that I can hike solo, with a text to a group chat that announces where I’m going, and approximately for how long, gives me both the freedom and the safety to do something I love. For that matter, when it comes to safety, I have learned that workplaces sometimes don’t bother with updated emergency phones and lists in the immediate workspaces – they assume that in the case of something big going down, everyone will have a cell phone and use it. 

I have the ability – and use it! – to keep my ADD self on-track and productive by dint of reminders and alarms and calendars. I’ve been using a device for this since the original Palm Pilot. Trust me when I say that I am not Type A, existing in a role where I must be, in order to take care of my family and myself. If I don’t stay on top of stuff, who will? The smart phone gives me a powerful tool I can use to my best advantage. Oddly enough, social media is way, way down there in the list of my app usages. Kindle? Yeah, that’s up there. Also, Amazon Music and Overcast (a podcast player and organizer). Half the time I don’t even have facebook on my phone any more – I keep deleting it when it stresses me. 

With my phone, I can stand in a grocery line and read. Or sit in my car waiting on grocery pickup and answering a client’s email. Or add stuff to the grocery list – one I won’t lose or accidentally toss out. 

Like any other tool, if mishandled it can be a detriment. But it’s become my computer-on-the go. And this, from a woman who first learned to program in BASIC on a Commodore 64 using cassette tapes to record those programs! We’ve come so far, baby! 

And there’s my alarm. Time to pack a lunch and scoot for work. With my handy-dandy fully armed and operational phone in my pocket. 


12 thoughts on “Efficiency and the Device

  1. I hardly use my “smart” phone but admit that it is useful.

    On the other hand, I find it interesting how these devices have changed how we live and the world around us.

    I remember reading a 1970’s “gothic” and the main character has gotten off a bus in a remote area but her friend wasn’t waiting for her.

    My first thought was “call your friend with your cell-phone”. 😆

  2. It was telling, years ago, that Verizon sued to get the domain ‘verizonsucks’ away from its owner rather than, oh, NOT sucking and thereby making the site/domain pointless. That told me I should never deal with them in any way, ever.

    1. That I had not heard. I’m not a fan of contract plans and leasing phones – I can do math. So I’m looking at prepaid, or pay as you go plans. Which can be surprisingly good. Ting, which we had for years, was great until I needed unlimited data.

  3. After years of leaving my grocery list on the counter, it now lives in…. Discord.

    I have a PM with my husband, and the pinned message– if I actually ran low enough on anything to NEED to buy it soon, or we need something that is specific– is the shopping list.

  4. I ended up with T Mobile because 1. they cover my geographic area and 2. there’s no charge in those parts of Europe where I tended to roam. (Data’s a slightly different story, but I needed the talk/text part.)

    Re. the Gothic novel. There’s still large swaths of Eastern Europe and the western US without cell service. So the story would still work for certain settings.

      1. I once (20+ years ago now… and it is SO weird to type that!) had a guest who *worked* for a cell carrier. He was *thrilled* that his employer’s service dropped dead just before where I then lived. “I can’t be bothered! This IS a vacation!”

  5. We actually have Verizon. But I discovered several years ago that while Verizon had service halfway up the mountain in Heavenly Valley in Lake Tahoe, T-mobile did not (it was a family thing and we needed to be able to contact each other). So, I’ve been leery of T-mobile since as I really do need the ability to connect from weird places and I’m not certain of their ability to do that yet. It may have changed, but I haven’t checked.

    As for leaving home without it or even (gasp!) turning on the do-not-disturb feature, I’ve really enjoyed my time away from the device. It’s a double-edged sword for sure.

    1. We took a week at a remote cabin in TN a few years back. No cell service – neither Verizon nor T-Mobile as we had separate services then – within ten miles. It was nice… but under my control. Made a difference.

      Verizon Used to be king of coverage, but I think that is changing.

      1. Yeah, under my control is one thing. Thinking I can contact somebody and discovering that’s not possible is entirely different.

        I will say that with my parents gone, keeping the phone on and next to the bed is no longer necessary and I am sleeping better without the always present anticipation of one of *those* calls. At the same time, knowing I could be reached at any time if necessary was something of a stress reliever as well.

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