An astute reader commented on my lack of phone expenses in one of my recent posts. It’s true, I haven’t had regular phone service (mobile or home) for going on 2 years. I remember one time I said this to a colleague at work, and their response was, oh you mean like a house phone?
Well, yes…that and a cell phone. It may be shocking to the younger millennial, but I didn’t get a cell phone until I was at least 20 and I had one up until my early 30s. Granted I’m only 35 now, but you get the picture.
For the last two years of college, I studied in New Orleans. My aunt always trying to keep up with the latest gadgets mailed me a cell phone since I had left home without a landline. I think it costs like $5/mon or so to plug one in in your dorm room. I didn’t see what the point was as we had email!
So I got my first cell phone under duress. It was one of those gifts that I’ll never understand. Much like puppies. My aunt offered to pay for the first few months and I would take over the rest of the payments. This was back when cell phones came with contracts. I didn’t understand how her desire to keep in contact with me led to my covering a $50/mon cell phone bill. But therein is my mobile phone origin story.
My first cellular telephone was a shiny silver Cingular Wireless flip-phone. At contract renewal, I moved up to the Nextel beep-beep brick phones because other people in my family had one and you could chirp over the airwaves without using cell minutes. Remember minutes? At the next contract renewal, I got a free purple Nextel phone. I had free incoming calls and free outbound calls after 9p for the same $50/mon.
By the time I started graduate school, Nextel was bought out by Sprint by then. I had no service in rural NC so I went much of my first semester of graduate school with just getting calls and receiving messages while in my campus apartment at night or on the weekends.
At one point the phone would just die within a few hours after being fully charged from trying so hard to connect to a network. So I just left it at home. Nextel let me out of my contract. The only other reliable providers in that area were T-Mobile and a regional provider that worked well only in NC. I went with T-Mobile and was introduced to the prepaid phone with UNLIMITED minutes! Game changer! That was still $50/mon.
Then a friend told me about Simple Mobile, I was very much a novice to cell phone technology, so I looked into it. It was $40/mon using T-Mobile towers. I went with that. A couple years later that unlimited plan went to $35/mon, then $30/mon, then $25/mon. That was where I left it. Somewhere in there my phone actually got pick-pocketed at a basketball game. It was a cheap phone so I thought that was already anti-theft enough. I was wrong. That has made me wary to become as reliant on phones as much of my generation has.
Sometime later I started working (and experienced Friendship Flight v.2015 wherein all my girlfriends found themselves married, dispersed around the US, and caring for a family). Now it’s Spring 2017. I was down to maybe 1 text a day from a former college roommate and off social media completely. I had switched prepaid debit cards on the account for my phone and didn’t sign up for auto-reup. Then one month, I forgot to re-up and didn’t realize it for 3 days, so my mind suggested obviously the phone doesn’t mean that much to you.
So I just made up my mind that if I needed the phone it was a quick text and I could re-up. Two years later, we are here.
What that narrative doesn’t include
- The time I got towed and had to download some sort of app to call around and find my car. I still didn’t get a phone because ultimately who would’ve been my emergency contact? And what are the chances of that happening twice?
- When it came up one other time at work, a co-worker asked, well what if you have an emergency. Me: Like what? You don’t need paid phone service to dial 911. That’s something I learned on my no phone journey.
- The three Monday doctors appointments that were cancelled and I didn’t find out about until after I drove all the way there because they called and left a message on my work phone after hours. Yes, I did have access to an office phone. I do work at a call center after all!
- I still used email and I have an iPad (college-issued) that can make FaceTime calls for anyone interested. That has happened less than a handful of times. Plus I ended up with that app that could make outbound calls sometime around the time of the tow.
Some of the reasons my journey at some point went from inadvertent to intentional
- I had no substantial friendships that needed maintaining. It was difficult to define friendships held together by semi-regular texts and social media updates. That made it easier to cut ties.
- I aspired to live a more intentional life and have more meaningful conversations. I wanted to live life more drama free. I found some of the people in my social spheres of influence were quick to start or stir drama with a thoughtless text or an unreturned call.
- Lastly I hoped to turn off the noise. During this time, I wanted to figure out what I wanted out of life. I thought all the answers were somewhere within me and I couldn’t unearth them with the noise of inane life updates. I wanted to be plugged out. No one in my life at the time was really saying or doing anything of value, but they were sure making a lot of noise. I challenged myself to only include things in my life that moved my life forward. It was a new beginning within my current life station.
Did I emerge this beautiful butterfly? No. Sometimes a journey leaves you awakened. That didn’t happen here. I think one reason it’s taken me so long to write this is that I wanted to be able to say I had this great awakening and I found my true purpose in my life or something equally valuable.
Mostly #nophonelife was inconvenient at times and insignificant at best. I ended up declining some interviews because I couldn’t be bothered to re-up my phone for a 30-minute conversation. I missed a couple opportunities to work from home during a snow day and had to use PTO. For the couple times I left the state (e.g. my surgery and cousins’ graduation), I bought a $3/mon plan that covered 30 minutes.
The reality just ended up being that I was left out of all conversations. There is a lot of subculture in between the gossip of family and friends that I just wasn’t a part of. I was tired of taking the good with the bad; I just wanted the good. That didn’t happen. People aren’t as willing to celebrate their good with you if they don’t think they can reach you for the bad. I guess I learned that. I aimed to be completely disconnected and in that regard I succeeded.
So what’s my current phone sich?
Well I have a phone for the next 30 days because I’ll be doing some traveling throughout the month of March and frankly I’m a little out of practice (with traveling). I couldn’t be bothered to think up contingency plans in new places. So, I need to be able to look up things as needed and reach hosts; plus I’ve been considering working from home again now that the call volume at work has reached a more manageable pace.
What about you..have you found yourself on any inadvertent journeys?