Quick. A Pop Quiz.

By Bill Miller

Cellular telephones were designed as:

(A) a method of communication for prisoners to speak to each other from their cells to plan the next breakout.

(B) a device to allow human cells to communicate faster when you put your hand on a hot stove.

(C) A sure-fire way to identify people who lack the walk-and-chew-gum-at-the-same-time-gene.

Anyone who doesn't know that the answer is (c), please step forward now - I've got a bridge I want to sell you.

The advent of cellular phone service has been a boon to anyone who lives by the credo: "A moving target is harder to hit."

This technological miracle does not come painlessly. Car phone expenses, when left unchecked, will approach the GNP of certain Caribbean countries.

It is, however, the expertise required to operate this magical instrument that should be addressed. I recommend that the University of Sales Excellence consider some introductory courses toward this end, and I submit the following as a suggested curriculum.

CELLULAR PHONES AND YOU: A PRIMER. An introduction to the fundamentals of cellular phones and how to maximize usage without winding up in a ditch. This intensive three-day course requires students to complete as a prerequisite, Telecommunications (Phones) and Microbiology (Cells).

DAY ONE: THE HISTORY OF CELLULAR PHONES. June 27, 16,000 B.C.: Early man realized that striking a hollow log produces noise that will travel over great distances. One thump means "yes." Two thumps mean "no." Three thumps mean, "Get your sneakers on, there's a lion headed your way."

1670: Anton van Leeuwenhoek discovers cells. Later changes format to album rock.

May 5, 1941: The walkie-talkie is invented by Murray L. Walkie and Phillip E. Talkie. Both retain their names for business reasons.

Sept. 8, 1966: Concept of cellular phone is first introduced to American public via Maxwell Smart's "shoe phone" on comedy series "Get Smart." Early version is rotary and has problems with foot odor.

January 24: My birthday.

DAY TWO: THE GUARD RAIL. ENEMY OR FRIEND? Topics for discussion include:

1. If I plug it in the cigarette lighter, how am I supposed to smoke? (one hour)
2. Doesn't the antenna look a lot like the top of Elroy Jetson's hat? (two hours)
3. Is there a satellite that follows me around? And, if so, do aliens hear what I'm saying? (five minutes)
4. Will this thing defrost a turkey? (half hour)
5. If I'm driving around in a cell, how do I get the cytoplasm off my windshield? (half hour)
6. Dialing and driving. Or, who says only lizards and birds can operate each eye independently? (one hour)
7. Was that the tape player or did I just call Liechtenstein? (one hour)


DON'T stick your hand out the sun roof for better reception.

DON'T call the state trooper who just passed you to criticize his haircut.

DON'T clean the unit by immersing in soapy water.


DON'T call the weather. Just roll down your window.

DO impress others at stoplights by pretending to be on important and animated calls.

DO bill hitchhikers a surcharge for each call. And, most important:

DO pick AT&T as your long distance carrier.

Upon completion of this class, the student will have achieved an understanding of cellular phones much like primitive man's understanding of fire. In other words, sure, it makes life easy, but let somebody else explain how it works.