Confessions of a phone failure
My name is Mikel Kelly, and I'm a phone failure.
Yep, it's come to this — enrollment in a 12-step program to try to address my "phone problems."
To be honest, I never liked telephones of any kind. I hated the big black one we had when I was a kid. Didn't like talking on it, certainly didn't like calling anybody on it — not even my best friend, Dennis Jones, whose complete number I didn't have to dial since we were on a party line, meaning I could dial a shortened four-number code to get any of the 10 or so houses on our line.
I would guess that I probably called him only once or twice in all the years I knew him — and that was probably because my mom made me.
I also didn't like getting calls from the cute Yachats girl who rang sometimes when we were grade-school students. I usually had to be called away from more important things, like tree climbing, fort building, whittling, trail blazing, snake hunting or similar activities. And for what? To sit there like a dope and give one-word replies to someone who firmly believed we should share our thoughts — which, of course, really meant she had the wrong number.
For a couple of years now I've owned a "smartphone." I have no idea how smart it really is, but I'm pretty sure it's about a thousand times smarter than me. Hell, I barely even know how to operate it.
The other person who lives at our house scolds me all the time because my phone is almost never turned on. And even when it is on, I don't have it with me. I never remember to take it when I leave the house, and when I'm home, it's almost always in a different room than I'm in.
Most of the people who seem to need a 12-step program over their phone issues are just the opposite of me. They can't seem to go more than two minutes without fiddling with their phones — playing games, or checking emails, or surfing the internet, or whatever. Geez, they even go so far as to endanger their lives, what with their walking into fountain pools, stepping in front of moving trains, or simply driving their cars off cliffs or into oncoming traffic.
Which brings me to the aspect of the modern phone I DO like. Texting. I love the ability to write little stories to people and not actually have to, you know, talk with my mouth.
I'm not one of those speed texters, though. And I think it shows in my usual lack of typos and misspellings. In fact, I've always taken pride in what we in the newsroom used to call "clean copy." Flubbed-up typing has never been cool in my book, and that served me well in journalism school, where a single misspelling on a paper could mean an F.
Personally, I think my care and precision in composing stems from the fact that when I started in the news business we had to use typewriters. The typewriter, for those of you who never heard of such a thing, is a big old noisy keyboard (kind of like a laptop) that we used to peck on with our fingers, filling up sheets of paper with our words and sentences until we had a complete story, essay or job-seeking letter.
And yes, I know today's phones are really just little teeny computers which most people operate with their thumbs — but not me.
Because I was properly trained to operate a keyboard, in Typing I and Typing II in high school (and later perfected at Aviation Storekeeper School in the Navy), I learned that the correct method is to rest your fingers on the "home keys" and never, ever look at the keys while you're typing. I was not a super-fast typist, though. The best I ever scored on a manual typewriter was 58 words a minute with no mistakes, which is fast enough to write a story, but not fast enough to transcribe court proceedings or movie captions.
When I am texting, I do not use the more common two-thumb technique one sees when people are driving cars or waiting in line at Starbucks.
No, I set my phone on a table top and, while sitting fully erect with both feet on the floor, I use all 10 of my fingers. It helps, of course, that I have tiny hands — not as tiny as our president, of course, but still pretty small. It's the only way one can rest one's fingers on the ASDF and JKL; keys.
Believe it or not, I'm typing this column on my phone right now. When I'm done, I will email it to the two editors responsible for foisting my work off on the general public. I suppose I could call it in, but as I've already explained, I don't like to talk on the phone.
Oh, who am I kidding? I'm not using my phone. I don't even know where it is. You might think I could call my number and locate it, but I also don't know what my number is.
I told you I was a phone failure.