My first cellphone was an unwelcome burden. It was handed to me by my parents during the latter months of grade seven. There were three contacts in it. My home phone, which I knew by heart. We learned it in elementary school. It was important to be able to call home. Then my mom and dad’s cellphone numbers. I still know my father’s. He’s had the same number and provider since then. My mother’s has changed and I’d have to look it up.
None of my friends had cell phones. If they did they weren’t used to text or chat. They just meant that our parents could reach us whenever they wanted to. It was also an annoying thing that I had to keep charged and not lose. When I failed my parents got mad at me. I hated my stupid phone.
The world of fourth-graders with iPhones is so different from when I got that first flip phone. I can’t imagine how a child that young can handle having something so fragile and expensive.
There are two main cellphone memories that stand out from junior high. Both times I was out and about. The first happened in grade eight. I’d gone out wandering with friends. It was warm, almost summer. I’d forgotten my cellphone. My parents were unimpressed.
The second time was about a year later — this shows about how much I used my cellphone. I’d reached the point where I assumed my parents could call if they wanted to know where I was instead of making a point of telling them. I got an annoyed phone call from my father asking where I was. When I replied that I was in the south — having transferred to a school on the other side of town — he said that I’d better be home in time for fencing. I immediately started heading towards the C-Train.
In high school cell phone use grew and grew. The invention of T9 word helped make texting a thing. Before then it was too much work. Some of my friends had wholeheartedly embraced texting. I was on the fence. I also didn’t really get how to do it.
I was a debater and one time I had a dream that we went to a tournament in a town that had forbidden texting. In hind sight it seems very Footloose. The punishments were doled out in accordance with the amount you texted. I hadn’t texted at all per usual and was fine. One of my friends had his hand chopped off. Another who texted constantly was executed. He didn’t find it that funny when I told him. He turned out to be the one who got me into texting by teaching me how to use T9.
He’d also do this thing when we were all hanging out together where he’d send a present text to everyone that said, “Let’s text and not tell anyone.” So he’d just be sitting there quietly shooting off texts.