Cell phone shopping.

Friday night, I stopped at my cell phone service provider’s store, with plans to purchase a new phone.

“Something better than this,” I said.

I held my flip phone up for the store manager, who had greeted me upon my walking into the store.

“Anything’s better than that,” said the manager, who — using an iPad or comparable tablet — sent my name to the next available salesperson, and smirked.

I laughed, and recited the list of what I want and don’t in a phone.

“Preferably one that doesn’t flip open, but I’m flexible,” I said. “I don’t text. And I don’t want a phone that requires a data plan.”

“Follow me,” he said.

We wandered through a maze of displays to the “Basic Phones” kiosk at the center of the store.

“You can pick any of these,” he said.

I had my pick…

of exactly six phones.

Only one of them sturdy, none of them sleek, and none for under a hundred bucks. Of fifty phones in the store (give or take), the folks who refuse to use the internet on phones are forced to choose from six crappy options.

In truth, I am part of an overwhelmingly outnumbered minority for my age and country. We, the phone users who only use phones as phones and whose phones are routinely mocked by salespeople in cell phone stores, can’t expect the cell phone world to cater to us. But I’d be lying if I said it doesn’t sting a little to know my options are forever limited. I think we’ve reached a point at which basic phone users are largely coerced into switching to smart phones, not just for their apps and their looks but their quality. And I wonder whether we’ll eventually reach a day on which my options cease to exist, when “cell phone” and “smart phone” are synonymous, after the demand for basic phones is so small manufacturers stop creating them.

I shudder at the thought. (Click here if you don’t already know why.)

So Friday night, I left the cell phone store empty handed.

I’m keeping my good, old fashioned flip phone.

Deliver us from e-mail.

“I urge you to still every motion that is not rooted in the kingdom. Become quiet, hushed, motionless until you are finally centered. Strip away all excess baggage and nonessential trappings until you have come into the stark reality of the kingdom of God. Let go of all distractions until you are driven into the Core.” – Richard Foster, from his book Freedom of Simplicity

This weekend I traveled solo 170 miles south to a town called Cape Coral.

Road trip! A mini-vacation.

I stayed with my friend Kim and we celebrated 15 years of friendship. We watched movies, got burnt on the beach (where we also swam with sharks!) and sipped OJ and coconut rum. I didn’t bring my computer.

My friends would tell you I’m about as untethered to technology as it gets, but you don’t realize how much you use your computer until you don’t have access to it. In three days, I checked my e-mail twice from Kim’s computer, but I didn’t act on any messages I got.

I’ve always been quick to trash talk technology but e-mail is one thing I’ve long believed I couldn’t live without — literally, in that I really couldn’t do my job if it weren’t for e-mail. And not so literally, in that I can’t stand the thought of receiving a note that forever goes unanswered.

But leaving the laptop behind turned out to be a relief.

I liked not checking my e-mail.

I liked denying my self-imposed obligation to respond with rapidity.

I liked letting it go.

There is a stillness of body and mind in shifting our eyes away from all our screens. And in it, there’s also freedom.

I want more of that. And less e-mail.