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What wireless?

2011 Fay Jacobs

It's a hoax. This whole business of wireless communication is one big fat lie. While the communication may be wireless, its facilitation requires enough wires, cables and plugs to gag a landfill.

And of course, chargers last eons longer than the devices they power. I have souvenir chargers from every cell phone, iPod and laptop I've ever owned, plus miles of random cords from USB data cables, external hard drives, headphones and digital cameras. And heaven forbid a new device should use a leftover charger from an old device. Someday they'll find me hog tied and buried in wireless wires. It's just oxymoronic with the emphasis on moronic.

I say this, crouched on the floor, wedged under my desk, trying to plug in my dying cell phone so I won't lose my turn in the endless "on hold" cue for Verizon.

I'm calling to ask why my Droid has the battery life of a piss ant, beeping and dying by lunchtime. Now I've got a Schnauzer trying to squeeze under the desk with me because he figures I'm down here sniffing for lunch crumbs.

You should have seen me one night this terrible winter in the ER at Beebe, where, fortunately, I was trying to call somebody to tell them that no, my spouse had not broken her hip, after slipping on an unsalted sidewalk.

The only plug I could use to rescue my wireless phone was in the waiting room behind a coat rack, where I had to nestle cross-legged on the floor, the hem of somebody's ski parka draped on my head. I looked like some freaky new age Buddha, but it was lucky I had my phone charger along. Well, it really wasn't luck. I keep a charger in my car, in the kitchen, in the den, and a spare stuffed in my coat pocket. Sometimes the wires hang out and I look like a suicide bomber. It's not a good fashion statement.

We packed the camper for a road trip recently and I had so many charging devices on my nightstand it looked like a pot of squid ink linguini exploded in there.

Well, at least I don't have to go to the gym. I do daily knee bends and crunches with the endless plugging and unplugging of chargers, in and out of the sockets that sadistic builders install 16 inches off the floor. For somebody my age, nothing should be just 16 inches off the floor, not even the dog.

I may not have the energy for this anymore but the electric company does. I read that power cords use electricity even when devices aren't plugged in. Apparently, only 5 percent of the power drawn by phone chargers actually charges phones, while the other 95 percent dribbles out when you leave the charger plugged in without a phone hanging on it.

It creeps me out to feel how warm a cell phone recharger can be even when not attached to a phone. Is it dangerous? Dunno, But I worry about things like this. Now I realize that worrying doesn't solve anything but it does give me something to do until the trouble starts. And I think there could be trouble. Our next great fire won't be started by Mrs. O'Leary's Cow, but Mrs. O'Leary's iPad charger.

So now I have ten minutes added to my nightly ritual. Lock the door, put the thermostat down, let the dogs out, unplug three cell phone chargers, unplug two computer surge protectors, unplug the toaster, let the dogs in, take two Ibuprofen and start over in the morning.

I thought there was good news with the invention of the wireless charging pad to do away with charger wires. But no. Using the thing requires special adaptors on all your electronics, insuring, once again, that when the devices are dead you'll be left holding the bag of adaptors.

\ What about Bluetooth? It took me a while to get that Bluetooth referred to electronics, not dental disease, but I have since noticed that half the population walks around wearing hearing aids like Secret Service agents. It's gotten pretty hard to tell whether somebody is talking to somebody else by Bluetooth or talking to themselves by Schizophrenia. But okay, it's all worth it because this contraption is really, really wireless.

Not so fast. Since Delaware now requires hands-free cell phone use in cars when driving, I got a Bluetooth ear set myself. Imagine my disgust in discovering that the damn thing needs to be charged just like a cell phone. So now I've got one more stupid charger to work into my stupefying daily routine.

I did find out that my Droid car charger actually has a spare USB port in it so I can charge my phone while I drive and charge my Bluetooth device in piggy-back fashion in the same plug at the same time. I'll be lucky if I don't strangle myself behind the wheel.

Pretty soon cars will come equipped with multi-outlet surge protectors for all the add-ons and accessories needed for ET to call home, and it will be built right into the car's padded armrest. Before then, I may well wind up in a padded cell.

"Verizon Customer Service. May I help you?"

"Well, I hope so. I'm wondering why my Droid battery has the life expectancy of a fruit fly."

"Hmmm. What model phone—"

At which point, as if I wasn't wired enough, I reached for my coffee cup, accidentally yanking my phone charger from the wall. Mr. Droid beeped, bleeped, then croaked. And, I became completely, irrationally, unplugged.

I'm off to call Verizon from the antique land line. You'll find me tethered to the kitchen. What wireless????? If smart phones are so smart, why can't they solve this problem?
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Fay Jacobs is the publisher of A&M Books, a successor to the legendary Naiad Press and author of As I Lay Frying - a Rehoboth Beach Memoir (now in its third printing), Fried & True - Tales of Rehoboth Beach and the newest book, For Frying Out Loud - Rehoboth Beach Diaries.

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