Published in the Tacoma News Tribune
November 12, 2012


I have a love-hate relationship with cell phones. Outside of the fact I can barely use any of the functions, I hate the idea of being connected 24/7. It hits a nerve with my Baby Boomer independence.

The Millennial generation doesn’t know anything different. They are "digital natives", born with cell phones in their little hands. They have no idea what it was like prior to using e-mail, the Internet, and texting. Ringing cell phones are a major part of their lives.    

My first cell phone was the size of a shoe box. Now, they fit in the palm of your hand. I’ve learned to tune out most of the bells, whistles, and various ring tones. Either that or the rock music of the ’60s has finally reduced my hearing. I would, however, like to get my hands around the neck of the person who invented the “screaming cats” ring tone. In spite of that, I am either becoming immune to, or adapting to cell phone normalcy.    

I’m sure if I had children at home, it would give me comfort to know they were only a "cat’s scream" away. But, I personally like my communication to include facial expression and body language — a wink, a raised eyebrow, a shrug of the shoulders, or a smile. Only the most animated voice can project those feelings from afar, and yet the cell phone is the major communication lifeline for most people today. Not calling home “because the pay phone was out of order” is no longer an excuse.

It seems everyone has a cell. And yes, I carry one. I have to admit, mine is on nearly all day. There is something about that “you’ve got mail” ping that draws me like a magnet to push the button and check to see if it’s someone I want to talk to. Usually it’s not. It’s also taken me a long time to realize that when I hear someone behind me say, "Hi, how’re you doing?" I no longer turn to respond. And while it’s very commonplace, I’m still amazed to see thumbs flying across keyboards sized for five-year-olds.

I’m not the only one who has struggled with accepting all of this. About two weeks ago, our youngest son got married. As we were sitting in the front row waiting for the ceremony to begin, Father Michael addressed the congregation, welcomed everyone to the celebration of the union, and asked that we turn off our cell phones. I thought, "How times have changed." Even Father Michael accepted the fact we were all packing cell phones that are such a normal extension of ourselves that we needed to be reminded to turn them off. Incidentally, my phone was indeed on, and I smiled as I turned it off and replaced it in my purse.

The bride looked beautiful as she walked down the aisle to take her place next to the groom. Black tuxedoed groomsmen escorted the four beautiful bridesmaids to their appropriate places. The ceremony was more celebratory than somber and more relaxed than stuffy. Father Michael kept the gospel to a minimum and smiles to their fullest. The wedding rings were exchanged and Father was about to pronounce them “husband and wife” when, from some deep pocket at the front of the congregation came the unmistakable ring of a cell phone.

The groom’s eyes grew as large as saucers as he stuck his left hand into his tuxedo pants pocket, withdrew his cell phone, and turned it off. With all eyes of the audience on him, the bride said, in a voice that was louder than I’m sure she had anticipated, "Dude, seriously?"

Without any hesitation, Father Michael stepped forward to proclaim firmly, "I believe… that an angel just got their wings and is offering to join the celebration. I now pronounce you husband and wife." The room exploded in laughter.

I guess if Father Michael can be accepting of a ringing cell phone, I too can learn to adapt. I choose to believe that angels are getting their wings and, with the exception of the “screaming cats”, that makes me smile. 

Glenda Cooper has recently published her
first novel, The Road to Lost and Found.
She lives in Tacoma  with her  husband Jim
and their Old English sheepdog Reilly.

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