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  D.F.'s Column Archive

August 30, 2006

My Cell Phone, My Laptop, My Freedom: Deal With It!


I’m so sick of people who are sick of people like me. Wait. My cell phone’s ringing. Read Dear Abby for a second.


OK. I have just finished listening to yet another indignant human being expressing her disgust over people who just have to bring their cell phones and their laptops with them everywhere, and just can’t learn how to relax, forget work and spend a little quiet time curled up with a good book, a cup of tea and a little macramé.


Must we all be slaves to our cell phones? Do we absolutely have to be connected to work, business, the Internet and the various other ties that bind us at every waking moment?


Yes! We do! To be so connected is glorious. And far from slavery, the use of these wonderful little devices brings many of us the ultimate freedom.


Come with me to Lakeland, Florida, February 2006. With my Detroit Tigers jersey and hat perfectly affixed to my body, I am in the only place where any red-blooded American should be at this moment. Tigertown, home of spring training for the heroes of Motown. In the entranceway to Joker Marchant Stadium – around 10 a.m. on a Monday – my phone rings. A client has called my office. My phone is forwarded.


“Mmm hmm. I see. Oh yes. Why, of course, I know exactly what to do, Mr. Client. Yes, e-mail me that file right away and I will take care of it.”


He e-mails me the file. My laptop is in my car. I retrieve it and head into the stadium. The Tigers are doing baserunning drills. Did you know that Joker Marchant went wireless this year?


“Checking for available wireless networks. Found: Lakeland Tigers. Do you wish to connect?”




In comes the e-mail. The file opens. Problem taken care of. And the Tigers’ minor leaguers look like they need to learn to round third base a little more sharply.


The client never knew I wasn’t sitting at my desk the entire time we were talking and exchanging e-mails. I don’t know that he would have cared. But I cared! If you can take a week’s vacation with complete confidence that all your work will be done for you in your absence – or that it won’t matter if it isn’t – God bless you with sugar on top. I can’t. It’s the nature of my business. It’s the nature of many people’s businesses.


But I don’t want to miss out on spring training. I don’t want to miss out on fall in the Shenandoah Valley. My cell phone and my laptop make it possible for me to work anywhere. In a park. On a street corner. At a ballgame. Unlike the early years of my business, when I did not take a single vacation for four years running, I now get to go where I want and do what I want.


But I do have one little problem, which comes in the form of many nattering nabobs of nagocity – all of whom object to my use of my freedom devices.


“Do you see that man over there? Just chattering away on his cell phone?”


The companion nabob shakes her head in disgust.


“Some people just don’t know how to give it a rest. I am so sick of people with their little cell phones and those things with those little pens! And their laptops! Do they need to go on e-Bay every minute of the day?”


Have you ever been on e-Bay? You’ll have to tell me what it’s like. Ever since a friend of mine put an imitation frozen waffle on there and got a $150 bid, I’ve been convinced the place is for tools – and not the kinds of tools I use to give myself the freedom of movement that I guess you can’t appreciate if it’s never been denied to you.


Hey, if someone brings their cell phone into a movie theater and sits there trading cattle futures, throw your popcorn and your fruit punch all over him. In fact, I’ll buy you new ones. But if you can’t avoid mortal indignation because someone is walking around the bus station taking care of business, it’s you who needs to learn to relax. That guy might be closing a deal to buy your employer. You better hope he works hard. Otherwise, you’re going to have to.


© 2006 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.


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This is Column # DFK43.  Request permission to publish here.