ack when I worked as a summer hire for the Navy in Cubi Point, Philippines, Chief Mullens would always yell “Don’t just stand there with your pud in your hands!” The things you carry forward in life.

So now, fifty years later, I’m in a world we could have scarcely imagined. We have/had space shuttles (I even worked on them), computers beyond imagination, an ability to travel the globe and a pandemic that came, in part, because of that.

And now I’m an old guy, retired, and I’m out riding my thirty-mile ride. Everyone I pass on the trail, baby-pushers, dog-walkers, couples, they all have their phones in their hands, head down, slavishly following tweets and likes. Suddenly I’m thinking of Mullens and that “pud in your hands” comment. How appropriate it is half a century later.

Yeah, I have a phone – I use it to talk and also to not answer. I used to have an older phone (I remember my friend Joy having me pull it out so all the people at a dinner table could be impressed with my dedication to old tech). I liked that phone but it got dropped too many times and the lid (with the screen) broke off. Replaced it with another phone, bigger screen, more doodads (which I still largely ignore). But no, it’s not a smart phone. I cordially and absolutely refuse to get one. Had the same reaction when high-school pushers tried to get me to try their various wares. No thanks – I don’t like what it might turn me into.

I’ve been rear-ended three times by phone users. I’ve scrunched up on my bike saddle, thinking how some drifty Karen might come up behind me and smear me out of existence. All those things figure into my decision. No thanks. Not for me.

And especially not for me is being a slack-jawed dullard trudging the trail, God’s sky, His creatures, the beautiful world all masked behind a phone screen.

So thanks, but no. I’ll keep my phone (and use it as a phone, and not my plastic friend who’s fun to be with*). I’ll look to the clouds and the rain and my next hundred feet of bike trail, listening to the wind tickle across my helmet. You can keep your bullshit. Me, I make my own internally, and with a smile.


* Thanks to Douglas Adams for that quote.