It's last call for a trusty old cell phone

I was all ears for this constant companion, but as its bars started to decrease, it was time for the inevitable.

By Susan Thurston, Special to the Times
Published March 4, 2008

I said "So long" to my old cell phone the other day. It hurt as I dropped it into the recycling bin at the Verizon Wireless store.

Still does.

That clunky Motorola had been with me through every up and down of the past few years. It knew better than anyone the unabridged details of my life.

It was there when I called my mom, screaming about the bling on my ring finger.

It was there when I ordered the airline guy to find my luggage, or else.

And it was there when I asked my friend whether a blue line really meant baby.

For four years, that phone rarely left my reach. It kept me connected, failing only on remote parts of Canada and the Howard Frankland hump. I never lost it, and it never broke.

Looking back, I'm amazed at how the palm-sized companion altered my life.

I can remember not wanting to leave my house for fear I would miss a call from Mr. Whoever. Then, if I did, I'd race back, hoping for a blinking number on my answering machine, but then bumming out that I had missed the call.

Pure torture - and stupidity.

And then there was work. Miss a call from a copy editor at 9 p.m. while out to dinner, and I'd be mincemeat the next day.

The time and place for cell phones has become anytime, anywhere. We don't just walk anymore. We walk while checking messages and making calls. Imagine being in an airport without a cell phone? What horror! Do pay phones still work?

Even sitting in traffic has become more bearable when you have an address book full of people you owe a call. Haven't talked to your college roommate in, like, forever? Fifteen minutes of uninterrupted talk should catch you up - and pass the time.

Feeling the pressure to upgrade, I recently traded my phone for a slim, flippy one that has a camera, video capabilities and other features I don't know how to use but people tell me that I should.

Friends congratulated me for being the last person on Earth to catch up with technology. Co-workers thanked me for, finally, getting a phone with a tolerable ring.

So what if I liked my old phone. New is better, so they said.

As I think about my phone at the bottom of some heap, I hope it goes on to do good things. Maybe it will help a domestic violence victim or be ground into bits to create something else.

After all those minutes attached to my ear, I imagine it's tired of listening to me.

Susan Thurston can be reached at sthurston@sptimes.com.


">href="mailto:sthurston@sptimes.com" mce_href="mailto:sthurston@sptimes.com">sthurston@sptimes.com.


.A final goodbye

An estimated 130-million cell phones are retired every year in the United States, according to industry officials. That's a lot of phones. To keep chemicals from discarded phones from polluting the air and groundwater supplies, several companies offer recycling programs. A few offer cash for phones, but if you have an older phone, you probably want to donate it. For tips on where to discard your phones, see Page 4E.

.fast facts

A final goodbye

Here are a few ways to discard your cell phones.

- Sprint Project Connect accepts all makes and models, regardless of condition or service provider. Proceeds go to help keep kids safer online through a partnership with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. To recycle your phones, batteries, accessories and connection cards, pick up a free, postage-paid envelope at any Sprint store.

- Verizon Wireless' HopeLine recycles and refurbishes old wireless phones, batteries, chargers and accessories. Proceeds from the sale of refurbished phones go toward buying new phones for domestic violence victims and funding shelters. To donate, drop off your phone in a HopeLine bin at any Verizon Wireless store.

- RecycleforUS.com of Ocala offers free recycling, either through the mail or at several drop-off locations. Go to the Web site to order a postage-paid mailing label or find a recycling site near you.