Reach out and touch someone

Sep 20, 2006

Dave Winer writes about getting bumped on the sidewalks by iPod- and cellphone-toting people. That reminded me of the time I really became aware of the mobility of phone conversations.

I knew all about car phones and the first generation of mobile phones from my days working on the technology-savvy Rich Harvest Farms, but my time as a Peace Corps Volunteer on the nearly technology-free island of Paama set me up for a shock when Erin and I visited New Zealand.

On our first day in Auckland, we were walking down the street. Ahead of me, a man in a business suit was walking toward me, talking animately. I thought he was crazy, until I noticed, just as he passed me, that there was a cord hanging from his ear to a cell phone in his coat pocket. Later that day, we rented a cell phone of our own, and carried that around the North and South islands. One of the first phone calls we got on that came while I was in the locker room of a hot springs. Of course, it was my mom calling to check in on me.

I’ve had my own cell phone for nearly six years, and an iPod for two, but when I walk through town or across campus, I still like to keep them in my courier bag. One the joys of working in Chapel Hill is walking across the oak-forested quads, and when I smile at students and say hello to whoever makes contact, I get the sense they think I’m as crazy as I thought that Kiwi businessman was.

Anton Zuiker

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