I have succumbed. I caved. I gave in. I laid down my arms. Resistance, it seems is futile.
I now have a cell phone. I used to sneer at my father when he first got his car phone - "You'll never guess where I'm calling from!" Yeah, actually, I can.
For the longest time, I continued to savor my alone time. I reveled in being out of touch. This worked against me from time to time, but overall the excuse of being unavailable by phone gave me a defensible perimeter from people I probably didn't want to talk to anyway.
Now that's all gone. I know the rationale - if you don't want to get calls, just leave it turned off. Then the voice mail kicks in. Another place to leave your disappointment with me. "Where are you? Call me as soon as you get this."
Gads - no pressure. I've just raised the bar for my own expectations. Being on the way to your destination means nothing anymore - now you need to supply updated information about your trip's progress. Excuses evaporate.
So why did I tear down the ramparts of "Out of Touch?" My job - it would seem that being an elementary school teacher in 2005 requires constant contact. The "real-time-embarrassment" of fourth graders is an integral part of good classroom management. It is no longer enough to threaten a call home at lunch or after school. If you really want to make an impression on a student, you need to dial their number in front of the class and let the parents in on the day's drama as it's happening.
Sadly, it is as effective as any system I've encountered for the ones who are having the hardest time working and playing well with others. For a short time, I considered carrying a dead cell phone to use as a threat - but there are no threats with my crew, only promises. I'm stuck with it now because the parents expect it. "Why didn't you call when Abner starting biting that girl?" Oh, I dunno - maybe I was hoping for the respect of my students to carry the day and that order could be restored without excessive technology.
Or maybe not. In the meantime, I have this new fixture. It has lots of different ringtones, and a tip calculator. It's turned off right now, but if you leave a message, I'll be compelled to get right back to you from wherever I am.