The Journal Gazette
Saturday, November 20, 2021 1:00 am

Crank calls

Smartest generation realizes smartphone isn't always the handiest accessory

Nancy Carlson Dodd

When Tom Brokaw wrote his book, “The Greatest Generation,” he was referring to the generation that fought World War II. Had he been writing about my generation, the one we currently call “seniors,” he would have called us the “Smartest Generation.”

What? Really? Well, that's my opinion.

Proof of our greatness, I think, is our independence from cellphones. Some seniors even think the cellphone might be the Antichrist.

The younger generation seems to find the cellphone indispensable. Seniors can live without cell phones. As a matter of fact, they did for most of their lives.

There were no cellphones when they were learning to drive a Nash or pitching hay in the barn or riding around in the hot sun on tractors. There were no cellphones when they were stranded on Route 66 with a flat tire or an overheated radiator.

I easily remember the crank phones my grandparents had and how grandma would crank up the phone, stand on her tiptoes to reach the mouthpiece, hold the black cylinder up to her ear and shout. They probably could have heard her without the phone.

Most seniors who have cellphones do not carry them at all times like it is the most important accessory in the world. Most seniors do not know how to program their cellphone and couldn't care less.

And, believe it or not, there are some seniors who do not own a cellphone and wouldn't use it if someone gave them one.

Oh, I know, I know. Cellphones are immensely helpful and, in many cases, lifesaving. If someone kidnaps me, I am hoping I have a cellphone in my pocket and can call 911 and let someone know where I am. Of course, I'll have to ask the kidnapper to show me on my phone's GPS.

I know parents feel better being able to instantly contact their children by cellphone and assure their safety, and that's good; but I think cellphones encourage people to be impolite.

How often have you been somewhere and the person next to you is engaging in a conversation you are forced to overhear, like it or not?

People my age were taught it is rude to eavesdrop, and when the person in the line ahead of me at the market is talking loudly on the phone, I feel like I am eavesdropping.

I look around nonchalantly, as if I didn't hear her tell her husband she is going to kill him when she gets home so he'd better hide the shotgun.

I whistle aimlessly while the man next to me is telling his girlfriend he loves her and he's gonna show her just how much tonight.

Recently, while sitting in the airport waiting for a flight, I was trying to read. The man sitting to my left was carrying on a loud cellphone conversation and so was the man immediately across from me. I was having an awful time concentrating on my book.

I thought, “Wouldn't it be funny if I started reading aloud? Would they get the hint? Would anyone see the humor?”

Having complained about all of that, the truth probably is that cellphones irritate me because it takes me three minutes to realize my phone is ringing, four minutes to find my purse in which I carry it, five minutes to locate the phone within my purse, two minutes to remember how to answer it, and by then the caller is gone, having left a message I can't remember how to access.

You ask why we are the smartest generation? Because we know how to use a crank phone and sure wish we had one.

Nancy Carlson Dodd is a Fort Wayne resident and writer.

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