Oh misery, misery, mumble and moan;
Someone invented the telephone.
Awakening a nation from its slumbers;
Ringing wrong, but similar numbers.
(Odgen Nash: The History of America)

"Tried reaching you on your cell phone the other day," an agitated friend said. "You didn’t answer."

Told him I was probably in the car…or possibly on my motorcycle: Two places where I never answer the cell phone.

"I don’t understand," he said. "The whole point of a cell phone is so people can get ahold of you."

I disagree. If you stop whatever you’re doing — or put yourself or other motorists at risk by answering a ringing phone — you are letting the phone rule your life.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

When I get home at night, I turn my cell phone off and stick it in the charger. When I turn it back on in the morning, there might be a half-dozen calls and/or voice mails that came in overnight. Not one tried me on our home phone.

Same for the office phone. People call your cell phone first and some don’t try a landline if you don’t answer the cell.

My cell phone is always set to vibrate, not ring. If it’s laying on a desk or in a jacket pocket, I won’t hear it while I’m sitting at my desk. Sometimes, when the phone is in the holster on my belt, it will vibrate with an incoming call while I’m on my office phone.  I don’t stop talking on one phone to answer another. For one thing, it’s rude.

How many times have you waited in line to pay a check or make a deposit at a bank only to have the phone ring right when you get to the cashier or teller and they answer the phone rather than help you? Happens to me more often than it should.

Many people can’t ignore a ringing phone. I can. Those with something to say can use voice mail to leave a message or simply call back. I don’t answer phones when I’m driving or riding, I don’t answer phones when I’m busy and I don’t answer phones when I’m at home enjoying quality time with my wife.  I don’t answer calls that show up as "unavailable" on caller ID or those with 800 numbers that don’t identify the caller. Most are sales calls that find a way to get around the "don’t call" registry and they never, ever, leave a message.

Phones don’t control my life. Never have, never will.