Thursday, February 23, 2012

Semiannual Cell-Phone Bitch Session

Many years ago--a little more than fourteen of them, actually--my wife found herself to be with child (how that happened is beyond me). At that point in time, I was in grad school and my wife was working full-time. She was able to continue working right up until her "time" came. Now, this raised an issue: how would she contact me on a moment's notice, if she needed to? The idea that a mobile phone might be a good solution to the situation never even crossed our minds. I'm going to carry one of those things around and pay through the nose for the service? And for what? One phone call. After all, I was certain that such a thing--a mobile phone--would never really become commonplace. They were luxury items for the rich and always would be, I thought.

So what did we do? We got a beeper. Much cheaper and recommended by three out of four doctors, it just made a lot of sense. As it turned out, the event happened while we were both home together, so the beeper was never needed. I carried it around for another six months or so, just in case. But in those days, it was easy enough to drop a quarter in a pay phone and check on things, if I felt I needed to.

Shortly after that we actually did get a mobile phone (actually, we still have the account; we've had the same cell pone number for almost fourteen years), but it was for my wife's commute and traveling, mostly. She barely used it for the first year or so that she had it. And I honestly don't think I ever called her on it. Of course, that was still in the era of minute-watching; every call cost money, to and from a mobile phone.

Fast forward to today. As I said, we still have out original account and number. It goes to my iPhone 4. My wife has a Blackberry provided by her company, my oldest has an iPhone 4, and my middle guy has a Blackberry (though it wants to save up and switch to an iPhone 4). Given everyone's schedules, they see a lot of use, just within the family. The kids, of course, use them with their friends as well. And my wife uses hers for work constantly. Me? Aside from keeping up with the family when I'm out, I rarely use it. My friends have my number, but know I really don't want to talk to them on the phone; text messaging and twitter serve me much better in that regard, though I use the phone there, as well.

In short, mobile phones have become an integral part of my family's life, and we're quite obviously not alone on this. Still, I can't help but think about the "why" behind it all, can't help but remember when I didn't see a reason to have one, at all. When I was growing up, not only were mobile phones exceedingly rare, so were answering machines. And somehow, that wasn't an impediment to a happy and productive life, at all. Now, I'd wager that many people would be lost without their mobile phones. Hell, some States even provide free mobile phones to people with low incomes, apparently based on the idea that the phones are actually a necessity.

But that's not what I want to bitch about. Rather, it's the breakdown of manners precipitated by the widespread usage of mobile phones. People use them all the time. They use them in restaurants, in grocery stores, in cars, and in line at Starbucks (and many other businesses). The last just kills me. People yap on their phones even as they make their drink order to the unfortunate barista. Then, when the drink is wrong, these rude people take it out on the baristsa, holding up everyone else, when the problem was caused by their attempt to carry on a phone conversation while ordering their drink. I did, in fact, hang up on my wife on time when she called me on her mobile phone--from San Francisco--when I realized she was ordering a drink at the same time.

Then there's the other thing that drives me up the proverbial wall: people using their phones in public restrooms. I don't want to hear it, when I'm relieving myself. Similarly, I'm quite certain that the person on the other end of the call has no interest in hearing the sounds of me--or others--relieving ourselves. It is truly a disgusting habit, aside from being downright rude. And there's just no justification for it. If you're on a call, don't hit the head. If you're in the head, don't take a call. Wait the minute or two it takes to finish one, before starting the other. Please. I beg of you. Please.

Cheers, all.


  1. I agree with much of what you have to say, but I think Piotr may not. See my latest. ;)

  2. I was at church, in the fellowship hall, and sitting at a table which seats 6, whilst waiting to pick up youngest son, chose to start conversation with someone NOT playing games on a "smart" phone.

    We are more "connected" than ever, but in another way, more isolated. And those most infected show the common symptom of being totally unaware - given over to the virtual realm.

    I fear they will not notice until the Gatekeeper of Data gets his hands on something they hold dear. Something not measured in megapixels. Just sayin'.

  3. I've had the same cell number since 1999, and I HATE when I'm in line, waiting to pay, and the hubs calls. I have to answer it or else he'll keep calling, so I end up being that rude jerk, all the while gritting out, "I'll call you back in a minute," through clenched teeth because even if I say I'm just about to pay, he keeps. on. talking.

    I don't like the telephone in any form, but man, I'd be lost if I lost my BlackBerry...

  4. Lol, Kim! You need to just hang up and put it on silent! FWIW, my wife--to the best of my knowledge--hasn't called me from a Starbucks line, again.