Friday, June 01, 2007

Checking the Time [CCR]

Yesterday I took the family to that famous amusement park on Lake Erie called Cedar Point. I guess this outing will be our last before Chrissie leaves home for her travels this summer and then college at UNA this fall. It simply amazes me to see people pay good money to be tossed about like salad. But nevertheless, I can remember my high school trips to Opryland and enjoying the rides with all my friends.

When traveling to the big parks we always had to make plans on when and where to meet. I can remember never having a watch with me so I was constantly asking strangers for the time or looking for a clock. Have you ever looked at the cash register receipt you just received to check the time? I became an expert at receipts.

Not today. Nearly everyone carries the new human pestilence we call a cell phone. These noisy contraptions do have benefits. Everyone has their time synchronized so there never is a question. Thanks to the digital age and the constant radio beacon of these devices we are coordinated to the second. Even the question of where to meet is solved. Just call your friends and agree on a meeting place within minutes of your agreed time. Why even have an agreed time? You can call when you want to meet.

So why call them evil? Try sitting in a movie theatre just before a movie starts. The ringing, beeping, and electronic blaring of songs you never knew will drive you crazy. Look around and you see all these people talking into a small box. Fifty years ago we would have sent them all to the hospital to have their head examined. Thankfully the theatre asks people to silence their phone before the movie starts. There is always the one exception. You are on the edge of your seat anticipating the villain’s surprise entrance. An electronic Britney Spears tune from a cell phone just seems to let the air out of the balloon. And then when the credits roll you hear the frilly greeting of a hundred phones firing up to see if an important message is waiting.

Yes, I am guilty of carrying one of those nagging devices. I think it is a condition of my employment, but that doesn’t keep me from being “one of the crowd.” I think human nature tells us this constant connection somehow elevates our status. If we only knew what everyone else was thinking when our phone rings in the middle of dinner at a nice restaurant.

Granddaddy Daily got by for years with a Cuckoo clock. He rose every morning, built a fire, and then pulled the clock chains with care so the bird can announce the hours of the day again. I doubt it was ever synchronized with any sort of “national atomic clock.” I am willing to guess his grandparents probably wondered why he would put up with that bird calling out the hours. It was easy enough just to look outside and see the time of day. I must leave you now. My little phone is ringing and it might be something important.