So Much for Status Symbols

This little story is true.  It actually happened though I decided to leave the names out.

Some might find this difficult to believe, but there was a day when beepers were expensive and few used them.  They were carried by doctors, lawyers and rich people who just wanted to look important.

During this time, I repaired computers.  I didn’t rate a beeper, partly because they were expensive and partly because I worked mostly in one place.  I did have colleagues who did carry them, mostly because they were more important than I was.

At that time, when you went into a hospital, you could almost tell the doctors because of the little things that were proudly fastened to their belt.

Okay, my apologies to the doctors.  They did have legitimate reasons for wearing them.  Still, to this day I do wonder about some of them.  I got the feeling they had no desire to hide them.

One of my colleagues, whom I will call Joe, (not his real name) carried a beeper.  He moved around from place to place and people did need to contact him from time to time.

One day, Joe was in a hospital.  He stepped into an elevator along with a few others.  Then there was the unmistakable sound of a beeper.

For those unaware of it, when in an enclosed environment like an elevator, determining which beeper beeped can be a little tricky.  The noise seems to be coming from everywhere, yet nowhere.

The two doctors checked.  “Not mine.”

Joe checked.  “Not mine.”

The sales rep with his little cart of drugs.  “Not mine.”

There was just the one left.  The African-American maintenance man who had been sitting in the corner trying to get a few seconds of rest, said, “Rats.  Must be mine again.”

Nowadays, I carry a cell phone, as does my wife.  I don’t guess we really need to.  I do like to have one when I get in my car.  I never know when something might happen that I need it.  In one instance, I actually did call in an accident.  I also used it one time when I had a flat tire.

Thing is that everyone has them now, even those on welfare.  This was not always the case.  When I first got out of the Marines, I met a man who had a mobile phone, not a cell phone.  It required a big radio in his trunk and it cost him a bundle just for the service.  The instant he used it, the cost went up very fast.  I suspect not too many people knew his number.

Then they came out with cell phones.  The first ones were big and heavy.  Some of them came in two parts, the handset, and then something a little smaller than a shoebox that contained the electronics.

One day I took my wife and kids bowling and I noticed a man carrying around one of these things.  Being as my background is in electronics, I was mildly interested in it.  After a glance or two, we went over to our assigned lane and started changing our shoes.

Then I heard an announcement.  “Someone left their cell phone at the front counter.”  The man apparently forgot it.  After a short pause, the woman making the announcement added, “I think it’s ringing.”

It goes without saying, the man did not walk, but ran to the front desk.

At any rate, those days are over.  My cell phone is so small I can barely keep from pushing two buttons at a time on it.  I actually wish it were bigger, though I am glad the shoebox-sized ones are outdated.

Now if we could just get those who have them glued to their ears to turn them off when the plane is ready to leave.

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