Wherever they are, they're connected

By Fahizah Alim -- Bee Staff Writer
Published 2:15 am PDT Monday, May 30, 2005
When a cell phone goes off at Greater Friendship Baptist Church in
Stockton, the pastor admonishes the members of his congregation: "If
it ain't Jesus calling, don't answer it."

But parishioner and Sacramento attorney Johnny Griffin III can't

"Lots of people get arrested on Saturday night and Sunday morning,"
said Griffin, who practices criminal defense as well as civil

"I have a 24-hour pager that goes straight to my cell phone. I figure
that the Lord has blessed me to have that phone call come to me ... so
the Lord may want me to answer it."

When a call comes in, Griffin puts up one finger, which is a
traditional signal in many churches of the wish to be excused. Then he
goes out and conducts his business.

Unless the church is praying.

"Then I wait until the prayer is over," Griffin conceded.

There is at least one sacred space, then, where a call to a cell phone
must wait.

However, those places are becoming fewer and fewer.

Cell phone chats in cars, airports and grocery stores have given way
to animated, and often loud, conversations in theaters, restaurants,
doctors' offices and even bathroom stalls.

People talk on their cell phones on the StairMaster and on the jogging
trail. Huffing and puffing and chatting.

Some have even tried to talk while getting a tooth filled.

Dr. Glenn A. Middleton, a Sacramento dentist, allows his patients to
talk on their cells while they are sitting in his chair.

They insist. And he, being of the mobile generation, understands.

"They take care of business and other important issues sitting in that
chair, and if I am going back and forth between patients, I don't mind
at all," Middleton said.

Juggling phones with dental work, however, isn't always easy or
smooth. Some patients move their phone instruments away only when a
dental instrument takes its place.

And Middleton recalls a heated incident created by cell phone usage in
his Butano Drive office.

"Two patients were sitting in the waiting room, each talking on the
phone, and one patient didn't like what the other one was saying on
his phone," Middleton said. "It got a little tense."

The dentist had to step in and calm things down.

While there still remains a small cadre of stubborn individualists who
don't own cell phones and frown at those who do, most people seem to
accept that the cell phone is everywhere to stay.

Take Roy Perez, a legislative advocate and principal owner of Roy
Perez and Associates, a public relations firm that has clients all
over the state.

Perez has owned a cell phone since 1988, when they were still big and
bulky and he had to carry it strapped over his shoulder.

Now he owns a 7100 BlackBerry and a Bluetooth, a wireless headpiece
that is always on his ear.

"Clients need to know that you are available to them, and I like to
let them know that I am there for them," Perez said.

While he admits to using 2,000 to 4,000 minutes a month, he insists
that he doesn't allow the phone to control him, or his life. He shuts
it off and puts it in a drawer in his office on weekends, he said, and
doesn't pull it out again until Monday morning.

Not so for Elizabeth Weintraub.

"I carry my phone everywhere - even when I roll the garbage cans out
to the curb," Weintraub said.

A Realtor with Lyons Real Estate, she said the phone is essential for
her business.

"I have my clients call me as soon as they look at a property,"
Weintraub said. "And I ask for my clients' cell phone (numbers) so I
can call them.

"My voice-mail recording promises I will return a call within two
hours because I figure that's about the longest period of time I can

Weintraub laughs when asked if she ever turns her cell phone off.

"Sometimes I put it on silent," she said. "But a friend once asked me
what kind of music I listen to in my car. ... I responded, 'I listen
to my cell phone ring.' "


"In the future, my private life will be expressed solely through art."
-- Britney Spears

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