Some of our readers may be shocked - SHOCKED - to hear that this 29-year-old Gen-Y'er doesn't own a cell phone. (gasp!) I am a marketing and demographical anomaly. Surprisingly, I find it quite simple to go through daily life here without a "handy," as the German's like to call them.
Even when I did have a cell phone back in St. Augustine, I had the cheap "free" phone that came with signing up for our AT&T plan (although, that's more of a product of my cheap, I mean frugal, husband than my cell phone preferences), and I didn't really use it all that much. I went through college and several years post-college without a cell phone and it wasn't until I took a job that had me frequently traveling across town to and from meetings in a less-than-reliable car that I finally got one. My first several cell phones were so seldom used, in fact, that I had pay-as-you-go plans instead of regular monthly plans. And I have never had a phone that can access the Internet.
When we moved to Germany last September, I had a pretty humorous "exit interview" with AT&T about my future plans for phone usage. I could tell the person conducting the interview was a young girl probably just out of college, and I was throwing her through a few loops.. Here's how some of the conversation went:
AT&T: Can you share with me why you have chosen to cancel your plan?
Me: I don't need it anymore.
AT&T: So, you're leaving AT&T for another provider?
AT&T: What do you plan on using for your mobile communication?
AT&T: How will you make phone calls?
Me: We have a landline for local calls and I use Skype for long distance.
AT&T: Do you have plans to get a mobile phone in the future?
AT&T: How old are you?
So, daily life here in Germany really isn't complicated enough to need a cell phone. Here are 3 reasons why:
- I don't receive enough phone calls to warrant a cell phone. If someone calls while I'm not home, I can see who it is on caller ID and call them back. We don't even have a voice mail for our local calls! (Note: Our phone is equipped with a voice mail, but it's all in German and we don't know how to set it up).
- I don't drive anywhere (I don't know how to drive a manual car... but during August Bryan is going to teach me ... stay tuned for a he said / she said blog post next month about that adventure). There is no fear of venturing out in the car, getting a flat tire and needing to call for assistance. That scenario just isn't going to happen.
- I don't want to pay the bills. We live a remarkably low-bill lifestyle right now and want to keep it that way as long as possible.
So, regarding phones, I am essentially living up to mid-1980s technology standards and don't mind it one bit. Bryan, on the other hand, does have a cell phone, but he never knows where it is, so it is of little use. He told me that in December he put 15 Euros worth of minutes on it and still has 13.80 remaining. The only time we make sure to locate it and charge the battery is when we get a babysitter so she can reach us in case of an emergency. Our first few dates here sans cell phone were oddly liberating. It was scary and freeing to say to the babysitter as we scurried out the door "We don't have cell phones so use your best judgement. Just call 112 (Germany's 911) if there's an emergency. See you around midnight - bye!"