The other night I went for a run/walk a little later than I usually do. I don't normally take my cell phone with me on these jaunts because I don't like it flopping around in my pocket. It was already starting to get dark when I left the house, but I had a lot of ya-ya's to get out and nothing was going to stop me.
About thirty minutes into my route, as I turned the corner to go down what passes for a hill in our neighborhood, I realized I was in a part of town without streetlights. The surface of the street was uneven and suddenly I had a vision of myself, tripping, falling and sprawling out on the dark street, bloodied and bruised.
I suddenly freaked out just a little.
It was not that image that sent a flare of worry up into my brain.
It wasn't the potential pain or the potential disfigurement that bothered me.
No, I envisioned the scene after the fall in which worried villagers gathered around me with flashlights. (Well, in my dramatic vision, they held lanterns.) With furrowed brows, they ask what number they should call so someone can come and pick up my mangled body.
It suddenly dawned on me that I know only five current phone numbers from memory. One of them is mine and two of them are the numbers of my sons who are far away. One is for HOB (who is far away in another way) and the other number is for the house phone of my good friend who is not home very much.
Yikes. I thought. Really? I only have one or two viable local numbers stored in my brain? I slowed down just a little, hopped back on the sidewalk, and headed for a better-lit section of town.
When I got home, I looked at my cell phone suspiciously. It IS very nice to just whip down that list of names and poke around until the hard working little robot bugs inside the phone do the work of remembering the number and make the call for me.
However, before I had a cell phone, I had an entire little section of my brain devoted to storing those ten or seven digit numbers. If I didn't remember a phone number, I reached for the Rolodex and found it quickly and dialed it for myself. Once I dialed it enough, it went into the filing cabinet in my cranium.
Now, when someone gives me a phone number, I program it directly into my phone and neglect to write it down at all. The phone swallows the number, replaces it with a name, and tells me to just go have a drink--it has taken care of everything. I am flattered and lulled into the sweet seduction.
"OK," I say. "Thank you very much."
"Would you like a cookie too?" it asks.
"Why, yes I would," I answer.
I think about people who lose their phones. How do they get all those numbers back? What if my phone was eaten by a rabid dog? Run over by a car? Stolen by terrorists? Flushed down the toilet? Experienced spontaneous combustion?
This weekend, I've decided to record (on actual paper!) some of those numbers that are only in my phone. I may even try to memorize a few more numbers of local friends. It will take some time and effort.
My phone, sensing its potential loss of power, may try talk me out of it, but I will be strong.
Well, unless it offers me a Diet Pepsi and chocolate chip cookies with walnuts.
Then, it's all over.