Joanne Palmer: For emergencies - or everything


Joanne Palmer

Joanne Palmer's Life in the 'Boat column appears Wednesdays in the Steamboat Today. Email her at

Find more columns by Palmer here.

— I just got a new phone. By the time I figure out how to use it, I'll be ready for my next upgrade. I've already misplaced my owner's manual. But that's OK. Truly. Because I still have two CDs to view and a 70-page manual of shortcuts to master.

It's easy to understand the appeal of cell phones. They promise a happy life. They don't promise you'll ever figure out how to make a phone call, but who cares? You'll be busy doing other things : all while insanely happy. The brochures, Web sites and commercials show happy young people, happily texting, happily watching TV on their tiny little screens, happily dancing to music, happily taking pictures or videos and e-mailing them to friends and family. Occasionally they are even shown happily talking on the phone. It's really the marketing feat of the century. Business students will be studying the cell phone phenomenon for years to come.

"Just for emergencies."

This is the reason most of us got a cell phone in the first place.

We were only going to keep it in the glove compartment of the car and use it to call for help if the car broke down. And then one day, on a long boring drive, we thought, "Oh what the heck, why not make a phone call?"

One phone call led to another and another, then another, and then you can't leave the house without it even when you're on a walk because who knows when an emergency situation might strike? Not only could you be wearing dirty underwear when the EMTs arrive, but you might not have your cell phone to call your sweetie-pie to meet you at the emergency room.

Then you upgrade.

Then the phone starts to accompany you everywhere you go, and I do mean everywhere. You hope and pray no one can hear you flush, but your mother always knows. "I can't believe you're calling me from the bathroom!"

Then you upgrade.

You convince yourself you won't need insurance because the phone is just for emergencies. After all, you hardly use it. And then something happens. Disaster strikes. You accidentally flush it down the toilet, drop it in the dog's water bowl, leave it on the soccer field or back over it in the driveway. Then and only then do you get hysterical. Your phone doesn't work and you have to wait at least 48 hours for a replacement. It's too quiet. There's nothing to do. While you wait, you join a support group. You admit you are powerless. Your phone controls you and not the other way around. You jump every time it beeps or buzzes.

Then you upgrade.

When your new phone arrives, you spend hours studying the ringtones. It's fun to look at the names and figure out what they might sound like. Bike bell is easy, but antelope? Dimples? Et voila? Caffeine?

Your friends begin to worry because they never see you. They get text messages in the middle of the night, but you are so busy learning all the new features of your phone you have no time to socialize. You need to synch your phone with your computer, download music, master BrickBreaker and other games.

You upgrade your plan. You need complete coverage. You need the world at your fingerprint. You throw out your calendar. There's no need for paper, you have a handheld device that chirps a reminder to you whenever you have an appointment. Your alarm clock is next to go. Your phone can do that. Goodbye calculator and camera. Out goes the iPod, in goes the headset to your phone.

Then you upgrade.

Then you give up your landline.

Your addiction is complete.


mtfinally 8 years, 8 months ago

I am all of the above. My phone is my phone (no landline), my calculater (even figures out my tips when dining out), my iPod, my address book, and my alarm clock. My kids have cellphones and from them I've learned at least 2 things....when they call with phrases that start out with, ", will the cellphone still work if it goes in the river with me?" or...".....can you look up (so and so's) number cuz I don't know it by heart cuz I keep it in my contacts but now I can't read my contacts cuz I cracked my phone screen...."...I know we've all become too dependent on this little box of technology.


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