Cattle Today

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ON BECOMING ONE OF THE X GENERATION

Jay Nixon

Back when I was buying cattle on order and traveling most of the time, I had a mobile, cellular telephone, a large, bulky affair that could only be used in the car with an outside antenna.

Once I got off the road and became something of a recluse, I had no further need of mobile communication and joyfully gave it away. Now, I'm back to traveling again, marketing Romagnola cattle, and I suddenly realized I needed instant communication wherever I might be. The answer was a modern “cell phone.”

I have good friends of my own advanced age who have adjusted to the use of this X generation product. And in fact, no one under 40 with whom I'm acquainted would think of being without theirs. What you must realize is that in many ways, I'm something of a “fuddy-duddy,” struggling to maintain some semblance of the good old days.

One example of this is the computer I use. It is great for my needs. I write on it and it prints what I write. Simple. My son tells me that I am trundling down the information highway in a Model T. But I have never felt the need of some splendid, fast electronic marvel to propel me through the ether in microseconds.

The same holds true of the “cell phone.” Go to any big population center and you will see hordes of young people -- that's anyone under 40 -- strolling around with a phone in their ear, chatting earnestly with someone about something. I even saw one talking on his in the men's room.

At any rate, when I found that I needed a new mobile phone, I set out to secure one. I read all the ads, and called all the companies who offered amazing numbers of minutes for very little cost. On some of these calls, I actually was able to talk to some live person instead of a recording directing me over and over to select one of the following alternatives and press one or two or whatever.

When I found someone to talk to, I explained that I wanted a phone for business purposes, and would need to communicate from places like San Manuel, Texas or Wisner, Nebraska. The standard response to this was stunned silence. Then I was told that they didn't have a plan to cover my needs. Most “cell phone” communication, I gather is young people strolling about town talking to friends.

I finally ran across a young man with some fire in his pants who wanted to make a sale. He offered to tailor a program to my needs. He got back to me shortly with just the phone and just the time plan I needed. This one, he explained, was on good old AT&T who has coverage everywhere -- either digital or analogue.

Say, what?

He went on to tell me that digital was what was used by young people in town. It was cheaper and clearer, but wasn't available in many places outside population centers. Analogue is the old fashioned mobile/cellular with towers in most areas that offer service. It is normally more expensive to talk on than digital. But with this program and this wonderful new pocket-size phone, I could use either system with one low rate, no roaming charges and no long distance.

As a former victim of the old mobile cellular, I understood about roaming and long distance charges, so that sounded wonderful.

This little miracle phone automatically knows whether or not digital service is available where you are, and if it isn't, it automatically switches you to analogue service at no extra cost.

It all sounded good, so we made a deal. I bought the miracle phone -- a compact model that fits into the shirt pocket. Well, it does if you feel comfortable walking around with something the size of a large banana that weighs about a half a pound in your shirt pocket. If not, there is a handy case that attaches to your belt in which you can carry it.

I brought the little jewel home, and sat down to read a 74-page manual written in fine print about its many features. It didn't take long to find out that it really is a miracle phone. It has automatic call forwarding, call waiting, caller ID, automatic re-dial for the last 10 numbers you called, a built in phone book to store numbers, a pager that takes spoken or written messages.

It has a security code so you can lock it up so no one but you can use it, if you can remember the numbers required to unlock it. It has varying tones for ringer and for volume on the set -- handy for a deaf person like me. There are even a stock of video games you can play on it, and a clock you can set that will ring and wake you up in the morning.

You can mount the little devil on a bracket in the car, press some numbers, and it will automatically answer itself after one ring and you can talk through a speaker system without holding the phone in your hands.

Telephone communicating isn't one of my favorite things. Trying to talk on a phone and understand what is being said back is stressful. I do it as little as possible. I signed up for a plan that would give me -- get this -- 600 minutes per month. The very thought of talking on the phone 10 hours is mind numbing.

Now, my son tells me he has 1,500 minutes on his plan and uses at least 1,000 of them every month. He must have more friends than I have, and, of a certainty, he enjoys talking on the phone more than I do. But never mind.

I have joined the X generation. I am a “cell phone” owner and I will be able to communicate with anyone, anywhere, anytime -- if I can just remember all those code numbers that are required to make the thing work.

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