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Terry Woster
Terry Woster

WOSTER: Coming to terms with Blackberry co-dependence

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life Mitchell, 57301
Mitchell South Dakota 120 South Lawler 57301

Now and then, something happens that makes me realize people really do, sometimes, get what they deserve. In this case, I'm talking about me.

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It started at the South Dakota State University basketball game on Saturday. In all likelihood, I won't see another SDSU basketball game this year, so I was pretty interested in watching this one. It was kind of a romper, a fast-paced game in which many of the reserves got long minutes on the court.

(During the halftime break, I found myself comparing the current players and their surroundings in Frost Arena with the players from the 1960s who ran the hardwood of the old Barn to the west of Frost. What in the world would a Don Jacobsen, who once hit 22 of 28 free throws in a game against Prairie View A&M at the Barn, think of the court, the reserved seats, the acres of bleachers and the animation on the scoreboard? Once he figured -- ala Gene Hackman and the kids from Hickory in the movie "Hoosiers"-- that the rims were 10 feet from the floor, he'd bring the ball up the court, fake the defender, hit the layup and add the free throw, just like always.)

The Jacks were up by 20 at half. The game was over but still worth watching for the great talent on the court. During a time out, I noticed several students working the buttons on their phones. They seemed to be friends, and they seemed to be together, but they weren't talking to each other. Each seemed lost in a cell-phone world.

Action resumed on the court, and I turned my attention to the game. I looked over at the students again, though, and they were still working their phones.

I scanned the stands near me and saw that several other people, not all students by any means, on their phones. That made me feel pretty righteous or perhaps self-righteous. I have a phone, sure.

I checked my phone the opening tip and once at halftime, but now I had the thing firmly planted in its holster with the strap fastened. I carry the Blackberry for work, but I'm not hooked on it. That's what I was thinking, for sure.

I did check my phone that evening a couple of times, just to see if there were messages from work. I checked before bedtime, too, and, uh, once in the night when I woke up and thought I'd just see if I was missing something. I checked in the morning, a couple of times before we headed home and, OK, yes, at Wolsey when we stopped for fuel. Well, and of course I checked it when we reached our garage. I wasn't thinking that was abnormal behavior, certainly not compared to those phone addicts at the basketball game. I'm not THAT bad, as folks in denial say about whatever behavior is challenged. If someone is worse, I can't have a problem.

After work on Monday, I went home, walked in the back door, unclipped the Blackberry, checked for messages and placed it on the stand near the charger. I headed for the bedroom to change, turned back and decided to check one more time (no reason, certainly not compulsion).

Oh, mercy. The screen was white. It was blank. I had no information from the rest of the world. I popped the battery, waited a minute and re-inserted it. Nothing but white on the screen. I swear, my palms turned sweaty and my head began to ache. When I told Nancy what had happened, she seemed amused.

"You always say you won't ever own a phone once you quit working, so what's the big deal?" she asked. "I know I do. But that's for when I quit working. I haven't quit yet. What if someone has a message?" I responded in a weak whisper. "You'll find out in the morning when you get to the office," she said. "Morning? Morning? You don't understand," I bleated. "I'm, I'm out of touch."

"Maybe you should consider how hooked you are on that thing," she said. "Maybe I should pop the battery again," I said.

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