Somebody please answer my phone?

I can overhaul an engine, repair diesel fuel injectors, fly a plane, draw up architectural plans for building my own home, speak in public (sometimes), use a miter to do fine woodwork, twirl my hands in opposite directions and bend over to touch the flat of my hands to the floor — to mention a few skills.

If you have read one of my recent columns, I’ll bet you can tell me one important thing I can’t do.

You got it — I can’t use my new cellphone.

I purchased one to ready myself for a flight to California to visit my son, daughter-in-law and two grandkids. The plan was to call my son who was picking me up in San Francisco as soon as my plane touched down (I think you can do that), then call him once again when I got to baggage claim.

So, I had to do some preparation so that I could master that phone.

I downloaded and printed out a 126-page user guide for my particular phone. (My printer was about ready to go on strike.) I skipped all the stuff about batteries and different kind of cards (What’s a SIM card?) and started with the “Power On” section. Everything went along swimmingly until I got to the word “select.” I couldn’t figure that out and had a friend show me how to select.

Soon, I was able to call my own landline from my cellphone. It was good practice. I was actually able to make a call to myself.

To prepare for my flight, I found a section in my user guide about airplane mode. I carefully followed the instructions so my phone wouldn’t emit or receive signals while in flight. I certainly didn’t want to interfere with my plane’s safe operation.

Now that my phone was set for the flight, I wouldn’t call anybody or use the phone in any other way.

In the middle of the flight, my phone went off!

It was vibrating in my pocket. I pulled it out a stared at it menacingly. That didn’t work. The guy in the seat next to me grabbed my phone from me, did something to it and handed it back to me. I thanked him and put the phone back in my pocket.

Just an aside: During both flights, after the plane had settled into cruise, the lights in the cabin were dimmed. I switched on my reading light and began working my crossword puzzles that I had brought along. I looked up to see that I was the only one using a reading light. Everybody else was either staring at their phone or resting. Doesn’t anybody who flies read anything that’s on paper?

Upon landing and taxiing in San Francisco, I took my cellphone out of my pocket to tell my son I had arrived. It must have still been in airplane mode, so I took that off (I think) and attempted to call my son. Someone with a very thick accent picked up and seemed quite annoyed. Maybe I didn’t dial my phone properly.

Anyway, my son was right there in baggage claim so I didn’t need to call him. I took my phone, unzipped my checked luggage bag and stuffed my phone into its depths. It was to stay there for the balance of my trip. It only vibrated a few times, but I chose to ignore it.

I’m home now, and have begun all over reading my user guide. I’m on page 20. Just 106 pages to go and I’ll be the master of my cellphone.

There’s gotta be an easier way.


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