Contemplations – 3 Coming of Age


Divisive Devices

Thinking about devices today, the annoyance of not knowing simple things that have become not simple . . . over time. A getting-older thing. I’ve witnessed incredible changes. Those first TVs, with rabbit ears . . . four channels – black and white. A simple device, without an instruction book, no learning period required. I refused to get a remote for a long time, thinking them a needless accessory. I finally bought one in the late seventies, and soon found myself with two remotes. Now I have three, and god help us if I accidently push the wrong button. We have a smart TV that can do Internet, Facebook, Skype, all kinds of amazing things . . . if you know how to work it. I don’t dare to try. Things can go wrong, and then you have to call in a teenager to get you out of whatever you’ve gotten into, or attempted.

The young have grown up with this stuff. They all have cell phones and stay on them, texting away, talking, scanning photos . . . looking stuff up. They are totally familiar with these things, their expertise absorbed from technological osmosis. I also resisted cell phones for a long time, but got one last December. Since then I’ve made or received maybe a dozen calls, eleven of which were tests to see if the phone was working. One was a call made to my wife, asking her to pick up something while she was at the grocery store.
I’m in a Swedish language class that takes me away from home from eight to twelve every day. Sometimes I have the car, so it made sense to charge up the phone and take it with me. Battery had probably been dead for a month or more. There is no reason for anyone I know to call me. Wife makes phone calls, in Swedish . . . every day stuff. My friends get in touch by e-mail, sometimes Skype. I never get calls.
Tonight the phone rang.

We were watching a movie, and I heard this ring. Wife’s phone plays songs instead of ringing, mine just rings. I finally decided it must be my phone, which was in the kitchen. I got up to answer. Line went dead as soon as I picked it up.
“Can you see who this was?” I passed the phone to my wife. “I can’t imagine anyone who’d be calling me.”

She swirls around the display window with her index finger, comes up with the number of whoever called, pushes a button, and passes it back.
I hold it to my ear. “Hello?” It sounds like someone dropped the phone, and is scrambling around with it on the floor – funny noises, clonks and bonks as I keep waiting for a voice, someone to answer. “Hello?” Nothing, just more funny noises, not the clattering kind, now more human noises, grunts and groans. Someone in pain? Was someone being murdered? Tortured? Still no words. The hell with it. I try hang up, but can’t remember how. Pushing the red button does not seem to work.
“How do you turn the damn thing off?” I pass the phone back to the wife.
“Who was it from?” She puts it to her ear and listens. “It’s a sex line,” she says immediately. Women know these things. She turns off the phone, too late I guess. We’ve been scammed, the perfect scam. It’s me that made the call and was connected for maybe a minute and a half while I wondered who or what it was. Some kind of a joke? Somebody getting murdered? A call for help?
Now we await a huge phone bill for my minute and a half spent with a porn phone line in Bucharest, or wherever. Cell phones . . . I want to be left alone.


*               *               *

Getting old is like standing in a long, slow line. You wake up out of the shuffle and torpor    only at those moments when the line moves you one step closer to the window.
Wallace Stegner


About Bruce Louis Dodson

Bruce Louis Dodson is an American expat now living in Borlänge, Sweden with his wife, cat and dog. He is an artist and world traveler who writes fiction and poetry and practices photography in his less than copious free time. His work has appeared in: Barely South Review - Boundaries Issue, Blue Collar Review, Pulsar Poetry (UK), Foliate Oak, Breadline Press West Coast Anthology . The E-buffet, Qarrtsiluni, Struggle Magazine, Pearl Literary Magazine, Contemporary Literature Review: India, 3rd Wednesday, Sleeping Cat Books - Trip of a Lifetime Anthology, Northern Liberties Review, Authors Abroad - Foreign & and Far Away Anthology, The Path, Page & Spine, The Crucible, Sleeping Cat Books -Trips of a Lifetime, Vine Leaves, Pirene's Fountain,Tic Toc Anthology - Kind of a Hurricane Press, Cordite Poetry Review, Buffalo Almanac and mgv2.
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13 Responses to Contemplations – 3 Coming of Age

  1. Bruce,
    This is marvelous, one of your best ever – totally real and immediate, i’m in the room listening to you.
    Absolutely love it
    Best to you

    ps: this is not a porn message

  2. LadyBlueRose's Thoughts Into Words says:

    I have to sit here and just quietly laugh… my grandson always says “grandma, just call me, DON’T touch any buttons !” he and my granddaughter explain the text talk abreviations to me, which doesn’t matter, I don’t text, and I am pretty sure I turned my cell phone off and won’t find it,
    your post is very much my world …when I went back to school at fifty, I was in computers and the kids were all talking about their remotes and TV’s, they would include me in their conversations to here “old time stuff” one young man ask me what me remote was, I said i didn’t have one, they left home years ago, confused he asked what I meant, I said my kids were the remote ..they got up and changed the channel…he asked what kind of TV that was, it was a Magnavox, and I had got it in 78, they were floored, I had just replaced it because it finally bit the dust…my grandson, showed my the on, off, and channel arrow as well as volume ..what else did I need ?
    I enjoy my computer…but the rest, I do without most days…especially the cell phone, I too wait for astronomical phone bills because I have answered a porn line, though most of the time its a wrong number for a fax I found out…

    Great post Bruce…I will smile about it all day, knowing I am not alone in this techno world
    Take Care…You Matter…

  3. authorjim says:

    Aah, yes, I resemble that entire post. I keep wondering why technicians and programmers persist in making things so complicated. The early television sets had several knobs for adjusting horizontal hold and vertical hold which had to be frequently adjusted, as did the volume but technology overcame all of that and gave us simple and reliable television. But look what they have done to it lately and most computer software is the same. Thanks for speaking up for us old duffers. The youngsters will probably laugh at us but we can give each other sympathy.

  4. I clicked the like icon, but I didn’t really like it because it is like looking in the mirror. Even your office is an awful mess like mine. All this time-saying equipment costs way too much time.
    I’ve worked all day because my power point for tomorrow’s lecture lost a load of my photos. I’ve had to dig them all up again. Must have happened when I got this new computer. How do images disappear from the middle of a power point? I’m going to bed. I will keep this a secret from my grandchildren.

    • bldodson says:

      Oh yes, the way computers can make things disappear. I was also going trough the same thing yesterday – lost a short story . . . While I was working on it!
      I tend to over save, 2 or 3 places, then forget what I called them, and where if filed them.
      Hang in there. You are doing great!!!

  5. Dear Bruce,
    So -0 wonderful to know that I’m not alone… my children bully me terribly about getting/using a cell phone. They give me instructions when they’ve got me under their thumb- ie when I’m sitting in a hospital beside my husband’s bed, and then expect me to remember what to do with the wretched thing the next day !
    Remotes !!! never used them … and now we have to have some new-fangled thing to make the Tv work, we’ve just ditched our ancient machine – it wasn’t worth paying the money to get it adjusted… and anyway I could never remember how to make the DVD player work !!!
    Yes, computers are wonderful when they work, but even my computer man admitted the other day that they do have a mind of their own… i have no idea for example why all my photos went into docs instead of pics the other day…
    I’m appalled at the idea of getting trapped on a porn line.. it’s bad enough being badgered by foreign voices telling me they’re ringing from my computer services, and there’s something wrong with it.. I just ask them if they are crooks now, and they hang up…
    Sweden or New Zealand, our generation is marooned in a sea of technology!!!!
    Love your piece – you see how many reader’s buttons you’ve pressed !!!!

  6. Your office looks like mine! And I too, dislike cell phones. Only use mine when I absolutely have too. Getting caught up on reading your blog. Haying and vegetable harvesting and canning took up lot of time this year.

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