Ralph Higgins

Ralph Higgins
color pencil sketch by Gayle Higgins

Quotes I Like

"If you do not take an interest in the affairs of your government, then you are doomed to live under the rule of fools."

– Plato


Sunday, March 21, 2010

Call Me On My Cell Phone

When I was a kid, back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, I remember a black wall phone with no dial. Operators would respond to an open line with, “Number please.” And with party lines, which were common, someone would usually interrupt a conversation asking, “Can I use the line? This is Millie down the street. By the way, it’s not true that I can walk with a glass of water balanced on my rear end without spilling a drop.”

As kids we would tie two tin cans together with a string and talk into the can while the other guy put the can up to his ear. It actually worked and Millie couldn’t hear our conversations.

Can you remember when Dick Tracy wore a wrist watch-like device that he could talk into and actually see a picture of the guy he was talking to? Look what cell phones can do today. We’re way past that. It’s mindboggling.

And you can’t get away from the darned things. Cell phones are everywhere. What’s so important that over 50% of people in the U.S. feel naked without a phone in their hand or on their ear? And it’s the same in Europe and Asia. In fact, it’s a worldwide epidemic. I can’t imagine what could be so important that a guy would walk around with some weird device hooked to his ear just in case someone desperately needs to contact him. But it makes him look important and when the world is in such turmoil for this guy to be out of reach could be catastrophic.

Have you ever heard a woman yelling into her phone about her success toilet training her very special baby to her best friend who is waiting for her in the car? Or a “hen-pecked” husband in Safeway calling his wife to get permission to buy chocolate Cheerios. Maybe it’s not that these folks feel insecure or indispensible or want to publicize their success. Maybe they’re just lonely. Or maybe I’m still stuck in the tin can and string age.

The Pony Express was started in 1860. It operated at the western end of a telegraph line in St. Joseph, Missouri, and I think it ended in Sacramento. It covered roughly 2000 miles and had a very brief, but romantic history. That’s the way folks in California got information back then. That was their line of communication, but I guess people have more to talk about now.

I would bet that if you dropped a bean in a jar every time you saw a teenager on a cell phone and took a bean out every time you saw a kid reading a book, you’d fill the jar in no time.

I saw a boy and a girl walking hand in hand in a mall once while each was on their cell phone. The weird thing is that they were talking to each other. Now that’s scary.


  1. Ralph, love the reminders of what it was like and what it's come to. Keep it up and I'll keep reading.


  2. Shoot, I'd call you on your cell phone if you'd ever turn it on -- or is it technically too advanced? :)

  3. Roger - It's far too advanced for me. Here in the mountains we use smoke signals.

  4. Malcolm -
    Yep. Los Gatos was unbeatable and our alma mater wasn't bad either. We were lucky.

  5. Must be a South San Francisco phobia about cell phones. Gary (my Dad) hated cell phones.

  6. Richard -
    I don't think it's a matter of location. I think it's a matter of age. Although Gary and I were good friends neither of us used cell phones, that I can recall, so maybe I caught the cell phone phobia virus too.