Can you hear me now? - Bob Paslay

People who know me know that I don't own much of the new technology, but I don't particularly have anything against it. I just don't see the need for it, and believe deep down that it probably diminishes my life like the truck I own that keeps me from walking anywhere.

But there is one piece of new technology I am fast learning to hate n the cell phone.

The other week, television news had a story about a big, burly assistant principal who paddled the crap out of a student at school. His mom had given permission but when she saw the bruises and mess this guy left on her son she filed charges. First, I don't believe big people should hit little people. Heck, I don't even believe big people should hit other big people.

But anyway, this guy is at the jail to be booked and he gets out of the patrol car with the officer to do the walk and the entire time he is talking on his cell phone. So I guess the one phone call has been changed to as many calls as you want or can afford. This picture offended me on various levels. Foremost was that he thought so little of the charges and the situation he found himself in that he couldn't be bothered and continued with his phone-yakking life.

I think the reason I hate cell phones is I believe they are the ear crack cocaine of this generation. All of us have felt that panic when we can't find the channel changer for a minute and face the horrible prospects of having to watch more than a minute of a given program. Well, judging from a distance, I believe you would have to quadruple this panic of people who find they can't talk on the cell phone continually.

I for one am darn tired of standing at a checkout counter while the clerk is talking on the cell phone to a boyfriend or some friend. You are a glass of water to them. They look forward, but don't see you. And when they do, they roll their eyes and give that little valley girl humph and say to the person on the other end of the cell phone: "Hold on a minute. A customer is here and I have to deal with it."

I lie not when I tell you some can't even make this sacrifice and stop talking and they just continue yakking as they half pay attention to checking you out.

If I ever owned a business I would videotape the store, not looking for customers up to no good, but to see if any of my clerks were on a cell phone. As soon as they popped it out, the floor would open and dispose of them.

I was walking through the airport recently on a trip back and was walking right next to a man who said: "The weather is really nice here."

Without looking at him, I instinctively launch into a few lines on how we have had good weather and escaped any snow.

I look over and he has this little device sticking out of his ear and I realize he is talking to some relative in Omaha or some other far-flung place I have never been and have no desire to go to.

I applaud airlines for making people put away these little annoying devices on takeoff and landing. They could throw them all out the cargo door as far as I am concerned.

People used to go in payphone booths and keep their annoying little mundane lives to themselves. Now, I have to sit on a plane or MARTA car and listen to their lives loud enough to annoy the crap out of me. I don't care what they are having for supper. I don't care what time they are going to arrive and need to be picked up.

I won't even mention the annoying rings that hack Beethoven into an eight-second ring.

The sooner some geek invents the think phone so they plant an electrode in your brain and you think your message at 15 cents a minute, the better off I will be.

My friend and colleague Ed was regaling us with his adventures of canoeing down a river in Alabama and losing his canoe and possibly someone on the trip.

I said, "So you were separated and this would be the perfect time for a cell phone. To find each other, make sure they were OK and craft a plan for finding each other in the woods."

"Oh," he says, "we didn't take our cell phones along on the trip."

This allows me to say with a good conscience that, yes, cell phones are indeed totally useless.

Bob Paslay is assistant managing editor of the News Daily and Daily Herald. He can be reached at (770) 478-5753 Ext. 257 or at bpaslay@news-daily.com.