Friday, April 25, 2008

U is for Ubiquitous

ubiquitous \yoo-BIK-wih-tuhs\, adjective:
Existing or being everywhere, or in all places, at the same time.

Ubiquitous is a pretty big word, even for one who tries to use supercalifragilisticexpealidoious in general conversation on a regular basis. However, besides fortuitously beginning with the letter "u" it was the word for the day on Wednesday, and for some reason I can't seem to get it out of my head. That fact alone makes it pretty clear I need a hobby!

There are other "u" words that I could try to write about, like "u"mbrella, "u"ser-friendly, and "U"-turn. Yet none of them are quite as lofty sounding as ubiquitous. In reality, my only attempt at using ubiquitous in a sentence was something along the lines of: The ubiquitous use of cell phones has far surpassed my earliest prediction that it will never catch on.

The problem with this sentence -even if I've used the word correctly, of which I'm not sure - is that I'm as guilty of over using my cell phone as the next person. It was only a few weeks ago that I forgot to turn the damned thing off and it started ringing as I reverently "q"ueued for Holy Communion.

I'm seriously considering tossing the thing in the ocean. The same ocean that I would grossly pollute by tossing all guns, tax forms, dog fight promoters and child molesters into. (At the risk of sounding inhumane - as if this sort deserves humane treatment - I'd use the guns and tax forms to wrap around the molesters ankles to keep them from surfacing.) The ocean is a pretty big place so dumping this kind of detritus seems like a good form of re-cycling ... the sharks can eat the sharks.

Back to the point. Except in the case of real emergencies when I might not even be able to find the blasted thing, getting rid of my cell phone would not be any big deal. For one thing it is way out of date. It only rings when it feels like it, not necessarily when I have a call. It does not take pictures, I don't know how to download zippy ring tones, and the very idea of text messaging boggles my mind. My fingers are much to big and slow to push those little buttons so that they will make an identifiable message.

My granddaughter on the other hand can make her phone sing! Her fingers fly over the keyboard, and switch from menu to menu like a trapeze artist in Ringling Brother's circus - with the greatest of ease. I guess this is where I have to admit, that the main reason I dislike the little technological marvels is that I don't know how to use them. This apple doesn't fall far from my Dad's tree when it comes to believing the adage about old dogs and new tricks. Somethings, like phone calls in church, traffic, a restaurant, a doctor's office, or at the dinner table, just don't seem necessary to me.

Take this recent experience for example:
I was trying to get in contact with a teenage girl who was sponsoring a lad from church for a spiritual weekend. The only way to reach her was, by phone ... duh! Not thinking of the time of day and that she'd probably be in the middle of a geometry class, I dialed the number. The phone rang twice.

It was answered by a voice whispering something about not being able to talk. The phone went dead. Now what, I thought to myself?

Within seconds my phone started to ring. I flipped it open to discover the words: Who are you? scrolled across the 2x2 inch screen. "Who am I?" I wondered aloud. "Why don't you answer your phone and find out?"

As I've already disclosed, I don't know how to text message. Thus, my only opportunity to introduce myself was to call her back. So I redialed. The phone was answered before the last number had an opportunity to finish its rhythmic beeping.

"What do you want?" said the muffled whisperer, sounding like I was some creature out of a horror movie (as if the giant, half man-half beast ever says, "oh I just want to be your friend.")
I "q"uickly told her who I was and what I wanted. She whispered another something I couldn't make out and hung up. I was getting nowhere fast. I was getting angry.

Then the phone rang again. When I answered it, a perfectly nice girl spoke to me in a voice I could hear and gave me all the information I requested in less time than it took to text message supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.

"U"ndoubtedly she thought I was a dork. And there is no "q"uestioning I thought she could have been more "u"ser-friendly. But what do I know?

Like the discovery of fire, man's ability to put words and pictures on a teeny tiny computer chip has changed the world. I have a choice, I can either try to beat the young whipper-snappers at their own game or I can join them. In reality, it's not a choice at all. The foot I have stuck back in the "good old days" of the 1960's is barely holding on. You know, that age when all phones had rotary dials and nothing was so important that it couldn't wait to be said to a real person on the other end of the line. Picking your kids up from school was all about discussing the day's plans not everyone in the car carrying on their own phone conversations.

Whether I like it or not, I realize it is time to jump into the 21st century and add a John Phillip Sousa tune to my ring tones. "U"biquitous or not, I'd still like to think I march to my own drummer!

Some other "u" words:
ukulele utensil

Upside down


Signing off,
Merry ME

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That is a classic tale. Remind me to teach you how to text when I see you next. You're awesome, M!