Don’t worry about the cell phone. My son found it for me. I think children are hard-wired to locate items of modern technology. It’s a skill similar to radar devices that detect heat-seeking missiles.
But, on Saturday, my phone was lost.
I wasn’t worried. You see, I haven’t spent money on a phone in years. Oh, I pay for the service, just not the telephone. It’s my dirty little secret. I collect, some say hoard, old cell phones and chargers. I take all the reject phones from friends and family and put them to good use. I like to think of myself as a recycler rather than a techno-moocher.
Saturday was my big birthday shopping excursion and I found myself in a mall that makes a football stadium seem small. I took FringeKid and told my husband and son I’d give them a call later and we could meet up for a bite to eat in the food court. I discovered my missing phone when hunger pangs struck.
Since I was near H&M, I figured I’d browse and then ask a clerk to use the phone. The young men behind the counter broke out into laughter when I inquired about a phone. Apparently a person without a cell phone is a like a person without ears, only more hysterical.
So I set out in search of an older, wiser, hopefully more helpful sales clerk. Lord & Taylor was nearby. Generally when I go into a store like Lord & Taylor, I am ignored. Maybe they recognize the Target clothes on me. I guess I look like I cannot afford their merchandise, and it’s mostly true. My daughter usually gives us away when she picks up a price-tag and yells $298 dollars! It’s all awe and wonder for her. She’s only familiar with $19.99.
So I found a lovely clerk at the makeup counter, mustered my courage and asked.
“Excuse me. I have a crazy request for you. I seem to have misplaced my cell phone, and I am wondering if I can borrow the store phone for a quick call?”
“That’s not too crazy.” She said. “Believe me, I’ve had people ask for worse things.”
“Really? Worse than asking for a store phone, because the guy with the eight inch gauged earlobes in H&M thought that was a request from some time in space, like way back in the 90’s or something.”
Stuck in an aging gloom that wrinkle cream couldn’t help, I considered all the outdated things I cling to. I mean, I still have a VCR in my house. I felt technologically stunted, deficient in the new ways of an ever-changing world. I felt like my cell-phone came with an antenna.
I was aging right in front of my ten year-old baby girl, and feeling older than my usual twenty-nine until a women in Macy’s stopped me and asked for my help.
“Excuse me dear. Do you know how to work a cell phone?” She asked.
“Well the nineteen year-old in H&M doesn’t think so, but let me give it a try.”
She explained how she was trying to take a picture of some leopard-print stilettos for her daughter, but couldn’t get her cell-phone to cooperate. I grabbed the phone, scrolled through the options, flipped it over in my hand and said, “I’m so sorry, but your phone doesn’t have a camera.”
In that moment, all the pieces of my old-fashioned world fell into place. I knew there was hope for me and my outdated technology, because my lost cell-phone has a camera. I wanted to hug that woman with the antique cell phone. She gave me the greatest gift of all – my youth.