Volume XI, Issue 15 ~ April 10-16, 2003

<Current Issue>
<This Weeks Lead Story>
<Dock of the Bay>
<Letters to the Editor>
<Bay Reflections>
<Burton, Sky and Sea>
<Not Just for Kids>
<8 Days a Week>
<Bayweekly in Your Mailbox>
<Print Advertising>
<Bay Weekly Links>
<Behind Bay Weekly>
<Contact Us>

Bay Reflections

With My New Cell Phone, The World’s My Oyster
Unless I’m Calling from North Beach
by Allen Delaney

I have seen the future and it’s getting smaller. I say this on good authority since I recently traded my old, clunky analog cell phone, powered by a battery slightly larger than a Die Hard, for a new, sleek, very small all-digital cell phone that runs on a rechargeable piece of lint.

I am involved in a seemingly lifelong renovation of an old home in Northern Calvert County, so I figured I would need a reliable, durable, state-of-the-art, wireless communication device. Power tools are not my friends. I may need to call the paramedics with one-button efficiency.

The problem with this new 21st-century technology is that it’s not designed for sight-impaired, chunky-fingered, middle-aged individuals. The phone is so small that I’m constantly losing it among loose change in the pockets of my my relaxed-fit Dockers. It took a lot of talking to convince a skeptical officer that I was, in fact, searching for my phone and nothing else while in a public restaurant. It didn’t help that I had received the call while the ringer was on vibrate.

My old cell phone had pretty much one function. I would hold it to my ear and yell over the static to the person on the other end, who would eventually finish the conversation by saying, “You’re breaking up. I can’t hea …”

My new phone has so many features that it came with an instruction book the size of War and Peace, only more boring. Being a typical guy, I scoffed at the book. But, with no clue on how exactly to activate my phone, I was forced to read it. Therein lies another complication of this wonderfully annoying new technology: There are no more on and off buttons. That’s because no single button does only one thing any more.

By pressing a red button three times, then a green button twice, then pushing the right arrow five times while holding down the pound key, you can program the phone not to let you use it. I stumbled across this nifty feature while wading through the instructions. Once I had locked my phone’s keypad with a special code, if I were to lose my cell phone, no wise guy could call long distance — say a bar in the Australian Outback — and ask if Amanda Hugginkiss is there.

But each button is the size of an ant’s eyeball, so I wasn’t sure of the code I entered. I had to call the phone company from my home phone. Within a scant 17 hours, a customer service representative mistakenly picked up the receiver and, after overcoming waves of laughter, helped me unlock my phone.

Undaunted, I continued to squint and poke the tiny buttons on my miniature technological marvel. I learned it’s able to ring with seven different tunes, that I have voice mail, call waiting, call forwarding, Internet access, conference calling and even speakerphone capabilities. I also learned, after receiving my first bill, that I had somehow managed to call Africa three times to the tune of $54. I’m not kidding. I don’t know how I accomplished this, but the nice people from the phone company assured me that I did and they’re looking forward to prompt payment.

While renovating the old North Beach house one Saturday afternoon, I enlisted my digital clarity to make an important and decisive call for pizza delivery. So imagine my surprise — especially after seeing the commercials where some guy is wandering around the country asking if you can hear him now — when I turned on my phone and got the message no signal.

Evidently the phone guy doesn’t wander through northern Calvert County. I trekked down to a local antiques store and while searching through the relics, located the rare artifact I was seeking: a pay phone. It ate my 35 cents, and I ordered my pizza.

It’s probably for the best that my phone doesn’t work in that area. What if I accidentally call Domino’s of the Congo? The tip alone would bankrupt me.


© COPYRIGHT 2003 by New Bay Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved.
Last updated April 9, 2003 @ 3:57pm