Joe Phillips col mug

Ten minutes from the house my cell was discovered absent. The dilemma was whether to burn twenty minutes out of a round trip to get the phone or press on.

I continued on for a multi-day road trip including a two-day drive halfway cross the country.

Nearly everyone can have a cell phone. Many have a free government phone, but there is no help for a guy who left his on the dresser.

I keep up with folks using text messages but for those days I didn't communicate with anyone. Nobody noticed I was missing. For all they knew I could have been somewhere cooling off.

Cell phones are multi-purpose items, and recalling how we did things in “pre-cell” days took some reflection.

Not only was I minus the phone but also the address book feature. Who would I call if I was delayed, and how would I do it?

I did have a portable ham radio but we'll set that aside for now.

On opening day of the mammoth “Mid-field Terminal” of Atlanta airport in 1981 there were over three thousand pay telephones. The last time I looked (but I'll look again) there were none, but there has to be one somewhere.

I wondered; “What is the cost of a local call from a pay phone?” Then; “How do you pay for it?” You can't tote bags of quarters, dimes and nickels around.

Everything else takes credit cards so without snooping I'll guess a pay phone might as well.

I enjoy posting pictures of unusual things on Facebook, usually food, via my cell.

While in the “Highway 36 Diner” in Wathena, Kansas, I wished I could snap a photo of my pork tenderloin sandwich.

You can't find them in the south, but restaurants in the Midwest have their own version of a “pork tender.”

A piece of pork tenderloin is sliced and tenderize it until it is cardboard thin and spread out. It is breaded, fried and the meat hangs over the bun. Think of a “schnitzel,” which is likely its origin.

I use a couple of travel services for rental cars and hotel rooms, but they may as well have been on the moon.

By connecting to their websites via my cell I could have found a better deal on a hotel room near Memphis if only I had turned around.

The toll-free number for “AAA” is on my membership card, but again, no phone.

Cell phone mapping services are great and the GPS will give you turn-by-turn directions.

In my “go bag” I carry trucker's maps of the US, Canada and Mexico. The book of maps is from 2005 but the interstate highways haven't moved and I navigated the trip using that.

Along the way I became curious about things such as the origin of the town Byhalia, MS and whether I-22 connects to anything useful.

Back at home I looked up Byhalia but the question on I-22 is still open.

Joe Phillips writes his “Dear me” columns for several small newspapers. He has many connections to Walker County, including his grandfather, former superintendent Waymond Morgan. He can be reached at