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A universal accessory

Megan O'Neil | Friday, March 18, 2005

Up until last week, I think I was the last person in America not to own a cell phone.

What once was reserved for doctors on call or lawyers appearing in court has now become a universal accessory.

Even elementary school children have them now. When I was 12 the big thing was pleading with your parents until they folded and let you get your ears pierced. My little sister, a sixth grader, is working on getting herself a new Nokia.

My aversion to cell phones stemmed first from my remarkable pension for losing things. Rare is the day that I walk out the door with everything I need, and I regularly forget things behind in classrooms, the dining hall, my car, you name it. Why should I add a mobile to my already overstuffed shoulder bag?

But more significantly, people with cell phones are annoying, and sometimes even dangerous.

Take my experience in the parking lot Wednesday as an example. I was pulling into Angela at Saint Mary’s when a girl whipped around the corner and nearly hit me. Needless to say, she had a cell phone plastered to her ear.

Or how about when you are hanging out with a friend or acquaintance and they receive a call? Nothing makes you feel less welcome than standing awkwardly by while they chat away for 20 minutes.

My dad, a professor in California, says he has watched the cell phone become a type of security blanket. Now, when students gather outside his room before class they don’t compare homework or socialize. They stand off by themselves and grip their cells.

All this, and I haven’t even touched on the issue of drunk dialing yet.

Why then, if the evils of the cell phone are so apparent to me, did I make a visit to a Verizon mobile store during spring break?

My fall had to do mostly with my new job at The Observer. I am rarely in my dorm room during the day and colleagues have to be able to get ahold of me.

Furthermore, giving your cellphone number to a new acquaintance of the opposite sex is much more comfortable than giving him your room or home number. Indeed, the home number is a great test of his interest – the guy must really like you if he is willing to brave talking to your mom – yet it undoubtably reduces the number of dates your are going to get. Who wants to risk that?

Lastly, it is a matter of convenience. If you are at Target and forget what brand of – oh, excuse me. My cell phone is ringing.