When I left for the Peace Corps in ’99, only a few people had cell phones. The handful of people I knew who had them kept them in their car for emergencies. Texting was not really a thing, and anywhere anytime availability wasn’t really either.
When I came back after my two years in Poland, I think just about everyone had a cell phone. They seemed extravagant to me after living in a dorm room in the school where I taught with a phone that only worked in evenings and on weekends if the school secretary remembered to forward her line up to mine before she left for the day. It was an inconvenience for my parents when they called and the phone would ring endlessly in the school office, but not in my room. They had no other way to reach me. I could make local calls from that phone, but had to walk to a payphone in town to make a call beyond my town limits. I certainly could have gotten a cell phone in Poland, I think they took off there before they did in the U.S., but I didn’t really feel the need for one, and didn’t want to pay for it either, preferring to save as much of my stipend as I could for travel.
But when I came back home, this little blue phone showed up at my door. My dad, who believes everyone should be properly equipped with technology that makes life more convenient, had gotten a family plan and put me on it.
For the first few years, I only used the phone after 7pm and on weekends, when I could call the other three people on the plan (my mom, my sister, and my dad) without using up my limited minutes.
But when David got his own cell, I started using my little blue phone to call him to coordinate meeting up after work or requesting a ride home from school after my evening classes. I also admitted it was handy to have in case of an emergency.
A few years later, I received my first text. I had given the number to a friend who then texted me. I didn’t even know my little blue phone had texting! I started sending the occasional text myself; it wasn’t very efficient because I had to push each button a few times to get to the letter I wanted, but in some cases it was more convenient than making a call.
Eventually, I memorized the little blue phone’s number and started giving it out instead of my landline. I took it with me wherever I went and checked my messages regularly. While others around me started switching to flip phones with cameras and even email, I stuck with my little blue phone. I was used to it and that convenience far outweighed the fancy features a new phone would offer. My dad offered upgrades several times over the years, but I had no need for a new phone. I was happy with my little blue phone, and even more so when just a few months ago, my sister showed me that I could set my phone for smart texting. Whoa. Now I could just type in the letters and the phone would figure out what word I meant.
I started to notice that I could barely hear the person on the other end, but that was ok. I’m not much of a phone talker anyway. Beside, I got a lot of compliments on my phone with it being 15 years old. How many people can say they got their cell phone when their current college students were five? Not many.
Then, about two weeks ago, I realized I didn’t have any reception near the window in our house where I can usually get two bars. I didn’t get reception in town either, or on campus. Something was wrong. David’s best guess was that the antenna was broken, and that duct tape probably wouldn’t fix it.
Luckily, my dad had a spare phone. It is nearly as old as my little blue phone, but I’d call it an upgrade: it flips open, I’m optimistic that I’ll be able to hear better, it has a little keyboard, and it even has a camera.
But still, I’ll miss you little blue phone.