It’s time to admit a problem: I’m powerless over my cellphone

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Their laser-focused eyes were burning holes into my inner being.

I had to respond, to swallow my pride and admit what I dreaded. Slowly, with knees trembling I rose from my chair, took a deep breath and confessed.

“I’m Chuck and I’m addicted to my cellphone.”

“Welcome Chuck, we’re with you,” was the response from the circle of “friends” who shared my dilemma.

I awoke from my winter slumber, my heart pounding from the dream….but it wasn’t just a dream.

Yes folks, like countless others among you, if not most of you, I’m hooked. Stone cold, gone down the road Katy bar the door, hopelessly sucked into the world of cell phones. And it’s got me a bit verklempt.

These marvelous technological marvels have so invaded my life I find myself in a pseudo panic mode when, just a few blocks from home, I realize my “lifeline” is not with me. What’s happening here?

For most of my life I did not have a cell phone, of course they hadn’t become available to the masses for many of those

years. The only folks who had portable phones had them in their limos and my aging Dodge Ram is hardly a limo.

Now, with phone in hand, I can connect with most of the world if so moved. That is, of course, unless I’m rolling through one of the many canyons, mountain passes or long stretches of open country otherwise known as Montana.

Or, as it turns out, inside my house, which has an unobstructed view of a mountain top brimming with cell phone towers probably less than 20 miles away as the crow flies.

But going outside on what is thankfully a covered porch to speak without interruption to the caller or callee on the other end of the “line” is not what really troubles me.

I’ve gotten used to telling folks who I’ve called or who call me to hold on while I step outside, not a fun thing to do in the middle of a Big Sky winter. There are, unfortunately, other perils included in this $107 a month convenient inconvenience.

Cellphones have become “smart” phones, a term equally as terrifying as what President Reagan used to talk about when he said “The most frightening words in the English language are, ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.’”

Like their cousins the “computer” they have become George Orwell in your pocket.

The other day I saw when I picked up my phone, which knew I just picked it up, that there were some messages, all indicating that while I was sleeping several applications on my phone had been updated.

Cool, I guess. Thanks, I suppose, but nothing I need more info about.

A short time later a message appeared saying “We (who the H E double hockey sticks is WE?) noticed you don’t open and

read these notices we send.”

I was then given the opportunity to check a box saying don’t send these notices any more. Sure, I get it, then you can do anything you want without me knowing. Hey, don’t get smart phone with me, I’m paying your salary.

It gets worse. The phones know after a short time of “learning” when I’m awake, when I usually hit the sack, where I just drove past and what I’ve purchased. My phone even wants me to rate my experiences at places I’ve never actually been.

Imagine the sick, childish fun I’ve had with those requests! (“My meal kept being interrupted by gang violence and something was wiggling in my chili. The staff was about as fun as a weekly Antifa gathering and someone just stole my

truck. Other than that I loved it”.)

Many times when I was a Cat Scan tech trying to get some sleep after being up most of the night scanning trauma patients, I would get calls where I could hear chaotic sounds but no one was talking to me. Nurses had butt dialed me from the

breakroom, unaware the act of sitting down with a know-it-all phone would go ahead and dial my number.

And these days, of course, almost everyone has a cellphone. Who wouldn’t want to be able to stay in touch with, say, your children in an emergency situation?

You can dial 9-1-1 in a jiffy, or ask the internet laden phone any question you have in the event an argument over obscure fact evolves into a bet on who’s right?

Why, you can even check your bank statement and pay bills without getting out your recliner.

Don’t get me started on the small keys and the number of times I’ve misdialed or entered the wrong password because my fingers are too big! Or the fact the phone service provider has the world longest, most confusing “phone tree” answering system ever devised.

Shouldn’t calling a phone company be the easiest call you ever make? Just saying…

Basically, these days, you HAVE to have a cellphone. I get that.

But I have always said that when I retire I will get a “landline”, an actual phone with a cord coming out the wall, add an answering machine to record calls I miss, and throw my cellphone into the river.

But that would be a bad thing to do. I wouldn’t want to add any kind of pollutant to any river, lake or stream.

But most of all, with my luck, if I did throw the phone into the drink, it would probably be eaten by one of the few remaining members of some ancient fish family. While swimming away and wondering what he/she just ate, the last sparks of battery life would be just enough to answer one more call while at the same time causing a short that would disrupt the cardiac system of the giant fish, bringing about the end of the species.

The carcass of the fish would no doubt wash ashore where biologists would be summoned to determine what happened.

Inside they would find my cellphone with information about every phase of my life, including that which would allow them to track me down and charge me with all kinds of eco crimes.

But most chilling of all….the phone would show that the last call was from a robo-caller!

Chuck Kvelve Bandel is a reporter for the Mineral Independent and Clark Fork Valley Press. Look for his “Kvelve’s Comments” column weekly.

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