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It’s time up and time out for my cell phone

You’d better sit down before I say this as I don’t want the shock to induce a coronary issue in any of my special Boomerbroadcast friends. I rarely use my cell phone. It’s true. Survival in today’s world is possible without the electronic appendage that’s become so vital and addictive in everyday life today. I have a ‘lite’ phone plan from Zoomer Wireless (affiliated with CARP) that costs only $18.31 per month including taxes. I can text—if I knew how. It takes messages—if I knew how to set my voice mail and retrieve messages. It allows me to access WiFi in public places—if I knew how to do it. The thing is, the only person who ever calls me on my cell is my honey and by the time I hear it ringing deep in my purse, I’ve missed the call and I have to call him back—which I actually know how to do—if I remembered to charge it and managed to figure out how to turn it on.

Count me out.

It’s with a great deal of impatience and annoyance that I watch the rest of the world unable to function without their phone constantly clamped to their ears. I go nuts when people pull out their phone at meals and I must confess I’m not exactly polite when I ask them to put it away and enjoy the company of the people they’re already sitting with. “But it’s my grandson” they say when taking a call during a girls’ lunch. Unless your grandson is on life-support and the power just went off, then IT CAN WAIT. I’d like to think I’m worth at least an hour of your time.

Years ago when cell phones finally came within the financial reach of everyday people like you and me, I was a late adopter of the technology. Then, one cold, snowy night in December 1995 as I was heading north of Toronto on Highway 404 beyond the reach of service stations and habitation, it occurred to me that I could have a problem if something went wrong with my car. So, I purchased a cell phone, one of those huge contraptions the size of a brick. Bell Canada offered a special “Emergency” plan for $5.00 a month which suited me fine and gave me piece of mind when driving alone beyond city limits. As time went on, I updated my phones but still rarely used them.

Now I have two phones; one for Canada and a wonderful little flip phone that I bought at Walmart in Florida for $14.98 for when I’m in the United States. I purchase two-year pay-as-you-go cards for only $149.00 from TracFone at Walmart that give me more air time than I’ll ever use in my entire lifetime. Unbeatable. (Canada has a lot to learn from American cell phone plans.) And that includes voice mail, unlimited texting, camera and all the usual features. My phone card is expiring in a few weeks and now I have to make a decision—to let it go, renew it or investigate something new and improved. I’ve banked thousands of unused minutes on TracFone and the price is right, but trying to figure out and compare different phone plans causes more stress than I can handle. My CARP plan more than meets my needs in Canada.

I’m just an old lady who wants to be able to use her phone in Canada and the United States without all the fancy features. I just want to be able to call my honey if I have a problem when I’m out. And I don’t want to pay more than $20.00 per month. My friends all know I’m not cell phone friendly and call me on my land line at home—which I will not get rid of because I do not want to tote my phone around on my belt for the rest of my life and when I go to the bathroom. My life is peaceful and my friends aren’t bothered by my phone pinging when we’re enjoying a cup of tea and a good gossip. Unfortunately, the reverse isn’t true, “Oh – I just have to check that”. I don’t need a phone to wake me up in the morning; an old-fashioned clock does the job to perfection. And apps? Don’t need ’em; don’t use ’em; don’t want ’em.

Maybe I should just pull the plug.

My husband loves his cell and talks to his buddies on his cell more often than the land line. The downside is because he’s not technologically inclined he requires the constant services of our friend Mike to sort out technical issues. I’m feeling so guilty about the amount of time required of Mike that I think we should put him on the payroll. I abdicated all I.T. functions a couple of years ago when computer issues threatened our marriage. Since then, peace reigns on the domestic front.

I’ve written before about how frustrating it is when our electronic thingies never work the way they should and have penned polite blog postings to Bill Gates but the problem persists. We need our computers, cell phones, Wifi and other goodies, but I sure wish they were cheap and simple. Our monthly telecom bill costs more than our mortgage payments used to be. Apparently there are ways to disconnect from the greedy clutches of the cable and satellite companies but I’m not willing to risk the transition. Missing my favourite channels or programs just once might be enough to bring me to the breaking point. It’s a fragile line. They’re coming to take me away, ha ha, is closer than we think, thanks to all these technical challenges. Or, I could just opt out altogether which is sounding more appealing every day. Using public pay phones, if I could ever find one, would save me a ton of money and a lot of stress. There must be a better way.

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BOOMER BEAT

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Want to get inside Lucy Barton’s head?

lucyAfter waiting many weeks to download My Name is Lucy Barton by Pulitzer prize-winning author Elizabeth Strout, I finally received the book from the library the other day—and read it in an afternoon. At less than two hundred pages it was a quick read but most of the context involved reading between the lines. Written in the first person, Lucy describes a lengthy hospital stay in New York City resulting from complications during a routine operation for appendicitis. Her two young daughters are taken care of at home by their father who has an aversion to hospitals and summons Lucy’s estranged mother to sit by her bedside.

As Lucy describes her mother’s arrival and stoical stay sitting in a chair for five days, eschewing offers of a cot by hospital staff, the two women reach an understanding of their relationship through reminiscences of old neighbours, friends and acquaintances. Missing her own daughters terribly, Lucy attempts to recreate with her own mother the type of affection and intimacy she shares with her little girls. While her mother concedes some emotional ground begrudgingly, their relationship is forever coloured and affected by unspoken and undescribed forms of child abuse Lucy and her siblings endured as children. Their father, a veteran of World War II and the Battle of the Bulge is forever damaged and this in some way permits the children a level of forgiveness for their troubled childhood. The abuse perpetrated by the parents is referred to in vague references but not fully explained and is left to the imagination of the reader. If you enjoy well-written stories of introspection by women about mother-daughter relationships, you’ll find My Name is Lucy Barton to be a worthwhile read.

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