No phone, but my days are numbered


I don’t own a cellphone.

I know what you’re thinking. What the hell is wrong with her? 

Ninety-two percent of Americans own cellphones. Back in 2004, just 65% were tethered to electronic leashes. Sadly, my days are clearly numbered.

Why do I find the thought of owning a cellphone so awful? As with many things, I had to pop on my thinking cap and ruminate.

I thought about the time I faced a cute soldier friend back from an overseas deployment for a brief 24-hour visit. My phone rang. My news director ordered me into work on my day off because everyone else had called in sick. I’d like to tell you that I was a team player and bailed on my soldier, but I did not. My boss had to do the sports segment on the news that night. I don’t think he ever forgave me. All these years later, I feel a bit guilty. If only I hadn’t picked up the phone.

Then there’s the fact that I’ve spent the last 19 years teaching in a Phoenix high school, during which I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time asking … cajoling … begging … OK, threatening students to, PLEASE STEP AWAY FROM THE PHONE! Please, stop cradling those electronic devices like they’re defenseless newborns. And, geez, are those tears? I promise I’ll give the phone back at the end of class.

My students are universally unmoved.

When informing folks of my phone-less condition, they are at first incredulous. I can see it in their eyes. You are, of course, joking. They stare, waiting for a punchline that never comes.

My sweetie pie does not generally use a cellphone either. Again, I can read your mind. How did they find one another in this world of seven billion plus people? While that remains a mystery, we both agree that cellphones can occasionally be useful. Over the last year, we’ve noted those times: looking for a Thai restaurant in an area with which we were unfamiliar, searching for a friend’s house when I forgot to write down the address, getting lost on my way to officiate a high school football game. I think that was it. Three times over the course of a year.

Now, a disclaimer. When we travel, Ryan grabs his trusty, little black flip phone. And, yes, we see those disparaging glances, ones that label us as old technophobes. We risk the disdain because we’re not dumb. We learned during a long overnight flight delay that some airports lack easy-to-locate pay phones. Also, Ryan now places the flip phone in my car during football season, when I traverse much of Metro Phoenix on my quest to throw yellow flags.

“You might need it.” He shrugs.

“But I don’t want it.”

“Just take it.”

Here’s the funny thing. While many people roll their eyes at my cellphone-less status, more often than not that wide-eyed shock morphs into a sad smile.

“Wish I could do that,” they say wistfully.

“But you can!” I cry, thrilled at the thought that there are more of us out there. “I’ll help you!”

Then they shake their heads at the absurdity of cutting themselves free.

I’ve considered creating some sort of resistance, but I fear there are far too few residing on my side of the isle. And the cellphone companies are too rich and powerful, filling the airwaves with commercials touting their shiniest new gadgets that will soon bring the miracle of 5G.

Still, I’m always on the lookout for like-minded folks who might help me lead the revolution. I’d say, “Call me!” But … well …

A Light in the Desert-cov (6)


Blank Slate Press/Amphorae Publishing Group

286 Pages

Price: $16.95 Paperback, $9.99 eBook

As a Vietnam veteran and former Special Forces sniper descends into the throes of mental illness, he latches onto a lonely pregnant teenager and a group of Pentecostal zealots – the Children of Light – who have been waiting over thirty years in the Arizona desert for Armageddon. When the Amtrak Sunset Limited, a passenger train en route to Los Angeles, is derailed in their midst in a deadly act of sabotage, their lives are thrown into turmoil. As the search for the saboteurs heats up, the authorities uncover more questions than answers. And then the girl vanishes. As the sniper struggles to maintain his sanity, a child is about to be born in the wilderness.

Come to the launch of A Light in the Desert on Friday, November 30th at Changing Hands Bookstore in Phoenix. The program begins at 7:00 PM.

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