Sunday, April 28, 2013

Cell Phones and Other Macrobiotic Organisms

Every day, people at work are walking around the office wearing their headsets, seemingly talking to themselves. Trouble is, when they’re listening, it’s impossible to tell if they are on a call. Often, I start to talk to them and they give me that, can’t-you- see- I’m- on- the -phone, glare.  At other times, they are actually talking to me and I don’t realize it. That’s when I get the, hell-oooo-I’m talking to YOU look.

Yesterday, I had a ten minute conversation with a woman in the check-out line in the supermarket. I didn’t realize she was on the phone until she said, “No, I’m not talking to anyone but the woman in line ahead of me thinks she is.” Maybe someone should create some sort of signal that lets you know when they’re on the phone.  How about placing a sticky note on your forehead? You could say something like Rod Serling: You’re dazed, bewildered, trapped in a world without time, where sound collides with color and shadows explode. You see a signpost up ahead — this is no ordinary telephone… You have reached, “The Twilight Phone”. Inferior being, kindly slip me a hand-written note and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.

That's not my only peeve though. A few years back, at a gathering I attended, a pre-teen came in from the garage and asked if anyone had a razor. I was concerned until he explained that he wanted to check out the latest in cell phones. Someone produced a Bluetooth with digital camera and MPEG4 video playback, built-in speakerphone and precision cut keypad. He said it provided a total sensory experience. Really? And to think, I used to be impressed if a gadget chopped, sliced and diced.

Another phone was pulled from a purse.  Now, this one seemed more my style. She said she wanted a cell phone that didn’t intimidate her, and reinforced her sense of comfort and familiarity. The features she showed made me feel more relaxed. I immediately knew it would fit my needs. It wasn’t small and difficult to handle. When she unfolded it, it was sleek and shaped exactly like the receiver of my old pink princess phone. A coiled cord dropped down and was completely twisted and snarled. We laughed hilariously as she allowed it to twirl to untangle. She said she didn’t have to configure it either. It was configured remotely by her five-year-old grandson. Instead of a keypad, it had a dial with holes big enough for your fingers. Instead of a signal strength meter, there was a dial tone. There were no icons or menus, but there was a feature that would ask you a few yes and no questions, which you could answer via voice command: Do you want to check your voicemail? Do you want to talk to your psychologist? Do you want to call the driver behind you and ask if they are lonely, because if they aren’t, they should back off before you slam on your brakes? If only.

Alas, simplicity is a thing of the past, my past. There are plenty of cell phone users that would be anxious to debate me on this because for them cell phones are simpler than ever, for them
I am resigned to the fact that it is my turn in the ignorance of technology barrel. My parents discovered ignorance of technology when speed dialing came out. I shook my head and admonished my mother for not understanding how to program speed dial on her phone or even to operate the microwave. Connecting the portable dishwasher to the kitchen faucet was beyond her comprehension. Geesh. Next!!

I do have an iPhone and I am more dependent on it than I care to admit but I never allow a child to tinker with it. I have made that mistake before and had it returned with a plethora of added applications and functions beyond my capabilities. “What have you done!”

Won’t those youngsters be surprised when their children shake their heads and criticize them for not understanding how the teleporter locks onto the trillions of atoms that make up the human body to send it to another destination? Easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy.


  1. I remember the good old days when you could assume people talking to themselves were nuts. Today you just don't know. Fun post.

  2. Thanks, Stephen. I truly appreciate your comments.