That’s my phone number and has been for the past eight years and will be presumably, for the next eighty. Until they make the Google Chip for my brain. Initially it lived inside a blackberry. I vaguely remember ordering it online from a company that sold blackberries to deaf people. I’m not deaf.

For some reason they gave me a Connecticut area code even though I live in New York. I always tell people it’s my “Greenwich office”. Greenwich is famous for all the hedge funds there. It’s a joke. I hate Connecticut. Too many roads have the same name and they are all parallel to each other. You drive on them for hours until you finally realize you are simply never going to arrive at your destination. Every house is bigger than the next house in Connecticut. It makes me feel anxious and jealous. Then I feel better than the people in those houses. As if their riches have locked them like a prisoner into their majestic compounds.

Then I feel worse than them. I see little kids riding bicycles outside these mega-mansions. I hate them. Then hate myself for hating little kids. There’s nothing good about Connecticut.

(Victor Niederhoffer’s house in CT. 10 things I learned while trading his money).


Except my phone comes from there somehow.

One time I left my phone in a cab. The cabdriver called me. $20 to get it back, he said. So we met at the corner on 50th and 7th. I got there in the rain and had to wait 20 minutes. Then he got out. I didn’t see my phone. $40, he said. I said ok too fast. $100, he said. Hey, I said, we made a deal. Haha, boss, just kidding with you. And I got my own phone back for $40, twice what we originally had agreed to.

But I had calls to make. Calls that were important then. I’m sure none of those calls were important. At the time there was this girl. And I had to talk to her even though she wasn’t taking my calls. So $40 seemed like a bargain.

This phone number has stayed with me through three different phone networks, five different phones (its now an Android), four different businesses,  an ex-marriage, a new marriage, maybe 100 different homes if you count all the hotels I’ve stayed in when I’ve been “in between” things.

But I never answer it.

I like the voicemail2text feature. So people can leave me messages and then I can read them. Within a few weeks. But…I don’t always read them. It’s hard to talk to people on the phone. And not just for psychological reasons. All the protocols for electronic communication via phone were made in 1957. Throw in a wireless network that’s not really that good and suddenly you can barely hear the people on the other side. I’m always saying, WHAT?

And when you answer the phone you have to go through a little interrogation. “What’s going on?” I have no answer to that. You just interrupted my walk in the park, my coffee, my game of online chess, my writing, my reading, my time with my kids, my time with Claudia, my trading, I was about to brush my teeth, I was listening to the sounds outside and doing nothing, I was watching “The Office” – the episode where they were interviewing Warren Buffett to replace Michael Scott. I was watching it on my phone.

(WB interviewing for the Michael Scott Job on "The Office")

You have something very important to tell me. But 100 years from now we’ll be dead. The only thing important you MIGHT be able to tell me is I just made a lot of money. But I’d prefer if you email that to me.  Even emailing me that I made a lot of money probably wouldn’t change my lifestyle at all. I like a simple life.

I don’t even want to hear if you have to tell me someone is dead. Who could be dead that I could possibly want to hear about on the phone? But he took pills and then shot himself in the head? Tell me later. Or never.

The worst is when someone emails me, “Call me.” What do I do with that? There’s nothing I can do. But then I wonder, “are they about to tell me I made a lot of money. Why couldn’t they just tell me via email?” But if I respond via email, “What’s up?” I feel that’s sort of rude. Doesn’t he want to talk to me, they might think?

Or worse yet, if someone emails, “Call me. Important.” and it’s a Friday night already and they won’t be in until Monday. If I do a statistical analysis I bet you when someone writes “Call me. Important”, there’s an 80% chance it came at 5:01pm on a Friday night. And its probably bad news.

But I have a problem responding to emails as well. And since I don’t keep a directory of contacts on my phone I don’t really know who’s texting me. I have to wonder,  whose number was that? Why did he or she just text, “finally this is the moment you’ve been waiting for. Call me back!”

But sometimes I’ve needed to call people. I need to know something from them RIGHT NOW. Like, are they stealing money? Or cheating on me? And if they don’t pick up the first time I get anxious. Why didn’t they pick up? Are they avoiding me? So a few minutes later I call back. And then a few minutes after that. “Call me back, please!”

But I can’t lose my phone. All my life is there. Photos, videos, emails, texts, numbers, messages, books. My phone is part of my brain. It’s a moon whose gravitational pull keeps it orbiting around my life.

I know I’d be happier if I just throw the phone away once and for all. Never use a phone again. It would be peaceful detachment at first. Like a Himalayan ascetic. But what if I then miss someone? What if I had a fight with her and now I want to apologize. But its too late and now I have no phone and she’s too far away for me to shout.


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  • http://socialnethotsheet.com Stephan Iscoe

    Good one, Richard!  I just make up some fantastic place – Bora Bora, Bali, St. Kitts…it’s true often enough that nobody questions it anymore (even when I’m just hiding out at the corner cafe)…

  • Jeff

    “But I can’t lose my phone. All my life is there. Photos, videos, emails, texts, numbers, messages, books. My phone is part of my brain. It’s a moon whose gravitational pull keeps it orbiting around my life.”

    I’m quoting this on my Facebook page.

  • Dicky_howard

    James, you’re a nut giving out your phone number to all us lunatics lol…i’ll shoot you a meaningless text after 5 tonight to see “what’s going on?” haha

  • http://HireHassan.com Hassan

    you don’t have to permanently delete your facebook. there is an option to deactivate which just means you’re off of everyones grid/ greyed out but when you go to the sign in screen and login with password and email everything is restored and its as if you never left.

    I’m 23 and went through facebook all throughout college and checked it daily multiple times, but I was in college so that’s norm haha. I deactivated cold turkey from May 2 – June 2. It’s was like an awesome vacation from the 83% of people on their I don’t really care about and it left me more time to be awesome. I was still contactable via phone, email too so it gave me a really good indicator of who was willing to put more than a mouse-click of effort to contact me.

  • Stonesledge

    I agree 100% and follow the same rule- love this!

  • bill quinn

    The problem with cell phones is having to explain yourself (or make that, people asking questions which seek explanations). Such as “Why didn’t you answer your phone?”, “Why didn’t you call me back?” “Why did you/why didn’t you ______?” “Where are you?” “What are you doing?” “I sent you a message, why _____?” Cell phones are a curse, and two of my wisest friends have rid themselves of this menace. I should follow suit.