My problems with cell phones

This is not my typical column, but anyone who knows me knows I don’t carry a cell phone. I have numerous reasons for not totally joining the 21st century. Some may not make any sense to anyone.

I used to keep a phone in my vehicle, but somebody decided he needed it more than I did. I left it charging on the seat and it sprouted wings. That made me mad, but it didn’t affect my life very much. There are phones everywhere.

Even before I lost my phone I always gave people my wife’s number. My voicemail message stated that there was no need to leave a message. I never carried my phone, so I likely would not call them back. I’m sorry if that sounds rude.

Some people are totally consumed by their electronics. They’re on their phones constantly. I think if they could have a chip implanted in them that would function as a phone they would.

I’ve watched drivers run off the road because of cell phones. In many states texting while driving is a crime, but the penalty must not be much, or the laws are rarely enforced. I see folks on their phones all the time.

A few years ago, I almost got into an altercation in a local grocery store with a man on a hands-free phone. He was walking toward me and spoke my name. Naturally, I asked him what he needed, and he got smart with me in a nasty tone of voice.

I’m glad I’ve matured or at least mellowed a little over time. Thirty years ago, things might have been different.

Another reason I choose not to carry a phone is that I don’t see particularly well up close. I’m also clumsy with touch screens. I usually hit the wrong character or maybe two characters at once.

Texting for me is agony, and I can’t bring myself to send texts that aren’t complete sentences. I refuse to send anything with misspelled words or incorrect grammar, and if I notice a minor mistake I must backspace until I correct it. If a message comes in while I’m typing, it totally messes me up. Sometimes it takes me five minutes to send a brief message.

My biggest problem with cell phones stems from what I’ve seen in my classroom. Fifteen years ago, few students had them and all the devices would do is make conventional calls. It was easy to police. All I had to do was take the phone and fuss at the person on the other end of the conversation.

Today, I’d say even with the top students a teacher has at best 70% of their attention. The rest resides with that phone. Removing the phone isn’t as simple as it sounds. Many students have two and will gladly relinquish their back-up. I’m not searching kids.

I’m afraid many school systems would have trouble initiating policies to eliminate them altogether from schools. There wouldn’t be a large enough building in town to house parents that would complain about it. I’d like to think I’m wrong.


Ted Manzer teaches agriculture at Northeastern High School (

About tedmanzer

I grew up in Old Town Maine and got a B.S. at the University of Maine in Plant Sciences/ minor in Botany. From there I moved to West Virginia and earned a M.S. in Agronomy at WVU. I also met my wife there. She grew up in rural WV as the daughter of tenant farmers who raised cattle and hogs. Their lifestyle at times was one of subsistence and I learned a lot from them. I've always been a foraging buff, but combining my formal botanical knowledge with their practical 'Foxfire-type' background opened up my eyes a little more. I recently retired from teaching high school agriculture after 25 years teaching with my wife. Until recently I wrote a weekly nature/foraging column for the local paper ( I also have written several Christian nature/adventure novels that can be purchased on Amazon in Kindle format. One is a five book family saga I call the 'Forgotten Virtues' series. In the first book, Never Alone (presently out of print), a young boy comes of age after his father dies in a plane crash, and he has to make it alone. The second book, Strange Courage, takes Carl from his High School graduation to his recovery from a nasty divorce. The third book, Second Chances, takes Carl from his ex-wife's death and the custody of his son to his heroic death at age 59. The fourth book, Promises Kept, depicts how his grandchildren react and adjust to his death (this one is not yet published). In the final book, Grandfather's Way, his youngest and most timid granddaughter emerges from the shadow of her overachieving family and accomplishes more in four months than most do in a lifetime. I use many foraging references with a lot of the plants I profile in these articles in those books. I also wrote a romance novel titled Virginia. It is available on Amazon and is a different type of romance from a man's perspective.
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2 Responses to My problems with cell phones

  1. tonytomeo says:

    Gads! When I was working, I had to carry a few telephones, even though I very specifically told everyone that I would not answer a telephone while driving. I drove a lot. Anyway, they all called me all day. I mean they ALL called me ALL day. What annoyed me more the the disruptions was that NO one was able to make decisions without my help. When they encountered a problem, they called me to make decisions for them, even though I was not there. These people were payed quite well, and certainly better than I was to make decisions, but used the telephone to avoid doing so. The communication compromised the efficiency of the decision making processes.

    • tedmanzer says:

      I’m a’one thing at a time’ guy. I hate to get interrupted when i’m working on something. My wife calls me ‘high functioning autistic’, but I’m just glad I grew up before every kid in school got labeled. I admit smart phones are great for getting information in a hurry, but people are way too dependent on them.

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