First Person
Bringing Up the Rear
by Jean Spencer
August 8, 2007

I got a cell phone long after my wife and three adult children got one. A cell phone is very helpful if your car breaks down and if you need to get a tow truck. Years ago, our car broke down in Oklahoma City, and my wife used a cell phone to call AAA so that we could get a tow truck.

I go for a two-mile walk almost every day and take my cell phone with me. I used to have it on in case there was an emergency and my wife or one of my children was desperately trying to reach me. I now take my cell phone, but I usually do not turn it on. I am ready to assist anyone who desperately needs a cell phone. I walk on a path beside a busy street. If someone's car breaks down and if someone needs to call a tow truck, I will gladly lend this person my cell phone. So far this has not happened.

My cell phone could also be very valuable if someone kidnapped me and forgot to search my pockets to see if I have a cell phone. Let's say that the kidnapper left me alone in a room. I could then call 911. I might not be able to tell the emergency operator my location, but I might hear some revealing noise that would enable the police to locate me. Or perhaps I would not hear any revealing noise, but the emergency operator could at least call my wife to tell her that I am alive. Also, the operator might say some comforting comments that would help me to keep my spirits up.

For example, she could say. "When you were kidnapped, an alert stranger saw you being forced into a car at gunpoint. This stranger wrote down the license plate number of the kidnapper. We now have his home address, and if you are staying in his home, the police will rescue you soon." Then twenty minutes later, the police might burst into the room and rescue me.

Of course, things might not go this smoothly. I might be kidnapped and alone in a room. I would try to turn on my cell phone and discover that the phone is not working because it needs to be recharged. I might then search the room and discover that the kidnapper has carelessly left a friend's cell phone in a drawer. I could then use this cell phone to call 911.

My wife recently traded in our cell phones for new cell phones that enable one to take a picture. I can see how this could be very valuable in certain situations. For example, let us say that after my two-mile walk, I decide to lie down behind some bushes.

While resting, I might overhear two terrorists talking about blowing up the arch in Saint Louis.

I might then take a photograph of these two terrorists that I could later show to the F.B, I . This would lead to the arrest of the terrorists. CNN would call me a hero and interview me. This interview would be on the evening news. Newsweek would also write an article about my heroism, and Newsweek would accompany the article with a picture of me holding my cell phone. In the Newsweek article, I would say, "I do not consider myself a hero. I was lucky to have the opportunity to help capture two terrorists. Because of my quick thinking, the arch in Saint Louis was not blown up."

Several months ago while I was taking my walk, I came along a man lying in the grass about thirty feet away. I asked him if he was okay. He said that he was. If he had needed medical assistance, I could have used my cell phone to call 911. One of these days, I might encounter a man who is lying in the grass and bleeding with a wound in the arm. In that case, I might strip off my T shirt and press it against the man's bleeding arm. I would then call 911. An ambulance might arrive in 16 minutes. Again CNN might decide to interview me. The interviewer might say, "This is the second time you have used your cell phone in a heroic way." I might reply, "I do not consider myself a hero, but my quick thinking may have saved a man's life."

At this point Michael Moore might decide to do a movie about how cell phones are helping people. At the beginning of the movie, he might describe how I was able to use a cell phone to capture two terrorists. He would also mention that I used a cell phone to save a person's life. In reality, I will probably never get famous for using a cell phone, but it is comforting to know that I am prepared to help friends or strangers by making a call with my cell phone.

About the author:
I have sold more than 150 cartoon captions. I retired and moved to Saint Louis after teaching college English classes at Cameron University for 33 years. I enjoy reading and writing humorous essays. I enjoyed listening to Garrison Keillor when he read some poems in Saint Louis a while back. I also like some of the poems in his two anthologies of poetry. I also like some of his stories. I grew up in Minneapolis and like Keillor swam naked at the YMCA in Minneapolis when I was a boy.

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