Saturday, April 1st, 2023 Church Directory

I’m Not on Call

I remember buying my first cell phone back in early 2007. It was a small NET 10 device that I bought in an electronics store for about $20. Before that, I really didn’t think I needed one.

But in January of that year, my late wife Julie was scheduled to have open heart surgery to replace her heart valve. I knew I would be on-call at the hospital the day of surgery and I wanted to make sure the doctor could reach me.

I also needed to be reachable in the following days after surgery. Since I was working full time at the newspaper and raising over 100 sheep on the farm, it was likely I would either be on the road covering a story, or working outside much of the time. I wouldn’t be near my land line phone at home to answer a call from the hospital if there was an emergency or if Julie called me.

Everything with the surgery turned out okay, and once Julie was back home a few weeks later, I didn’t really need the phone as much. There were a few occasions I needed to take a trip back to New Jersey and I wanted to stay in contact with her. So the phone came in handy. But it was never something I thought about keeping with me all the time.

For me, a cell phone was just a way to be available in an emergency. And despite how things have changed over the years with “mobile devices,” I still feel that way.

Now I’ll take my phone with me when I drive somewhere so my wife, Rita can reach me. But once I’m home, it stays on a table with my keys and wallet. It’s not in my pocket when I’m in the house, and I don’t take it with me when I’m working outside on the farm. If I ever dropped it in the field, it would be a major chore to find it.

But it seems the rest of the world has become so dependent on their “devices” that they can’t go anywhere or do anything unless their extra appendage is right there with them - sort of like how doctors used to carry pagers for emergencies. And this has caused a change in people’s attitudes towards communicating with others. They think everyone else has their device with them 24/7. So they won’t even make a phone call. They think they can send a text and get an immediate response.

I don’t know how many times I’ve witnessed people engrossed in their devices, sending texts back and forth for what seems like hours.

But that doesn’t work with me.

My phone gives off a single soft “ping” when I get a text. If I hear it, I can look at the screen and see if it was something important. (Usually it’s not.)

But the phone rings six times when I get a phone call. That’s the way it should be. A phone call implies more urgency. To me, that means someone really wants to reach me. A text, on the other hand, lets me know someone wants me to get back to them when I get the chance.

But I’ve had some people say to me, “Why didn’t you answer me?” when they sent me a text. My response is. “I did, when I was ready.”

So I tell people if they really want to get in touch with me for something important, don’t text. Call me. That has really cut down on the number of texts I get.

I think they got the message.