Search This Blog

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Death by Cell Phone


Arriving at the urinal in the bathroom at work the other day, I heard a voice from the stall next to me say, “Can you come here?”

I looked around, and there was no one else in the bathroom to whom that request could have been made. I thought, hey, maybe this guy’s in trouble or got something caught in his zipper. I pride myself on being a humanitarian and am always happy to help out someone in need or in pain, but I wanted him to clarify the request. I had just opened my mouth to say, “what for?” when I heard him say, “Why not?” It was then I realized he was on the phone. I was relieved that I didn’t end up embarrassing myself.

If I had been the person on the other end of the line, I would have been questioning the value of our friendship. If the only time you can talk to me is when you’re defecating, then I think the terms of the friendship need to be revisited. And don’t think I can’t figure out your location. There’s always that tell-tale echo, and your voice is strained, as if you’re performing a Lamaze sequence. When you behave this way, what you’re saying to me is, “I had a couple of spare minutes, and I was in a smelly place, so naturally I thought of you and decided to give you a call.”

Cell phone users have a built-in need to embarrass other people. How many times have you replied to someone you thought was talking to you, when they were actually talking to someone via their Blue Tooth, that hidden earpiece gizmo?

It happens to me almost daily at work. Recently, one woman (whose Blue Tooth is used so much that it has melted onto her body) looked at me and said, “Are you going to the picnic?”

“What picnic?” I asked her.

She scowled and shook her head and pointed to her ear.

“Oh,” I whispered, grimacing sheepishly, “sorry.”

But I’m not sorry; I’m annoyed. I end up feeling like an idiot when someone shoots me that “get hip with the technology” look.

I don’t like it when an electronic device has the power to belittle me, so I am empowering myself, and from now on, if you’re looking at me and speaking, I’m not giving up. It’ll go something like this:

“Are you going to the picnic?” You’ll ask.

“Yes, I am,” I’ll reply. “I’ll be taking potato salad this time. What are you bringing?”

Then there’ll be a pause.

“I said, what are you bringing?”

Another pause with the ear-pointing gesture.


You’ll yell back, “I’M NOT TALKING TO YOU.”

“Why?” I’ll ask. “Did I do something to offend you?” And I’ll keep playing stupid until you hang up in frustration and pay attention to me.

The big appeal of the cell phone is its multi-functionality. They can call people, show movies, take still pictures and video, play games, and blast music. With all those features, you’d think they’d come up with one that actually does something useful. I’d be willing to sacrifice the TV-viewing option for a cell phone that could loosen an exceptionally tight pickle jar lid. I wish someone could convince Ron Popeil to start manufacturing cell phones. It slices, it dices. It even calls your mother.

I’ve become complacent with people driving while on the phone. I treat them like any other person with a disability. They need a little more time to respond sometimes, and can’t quite go the speed limit. I put myself in a better frame of mind if I think of them as disabled instead of inconsiderate, self-involved jerks. What terrifies me, though, are motorcyclists on cell phones. When you’re driving a motorcycle, all of your extremities have pre-assigned jobs. Not on the list is holding a phone. One hand is the clutch. The other hand operates the accelerator and brake. One foot is the gearshift. Another foot is the other brake. This alone takes an extreme amount of concentration and coordination, but when you throw in a cell phone, you are now officially juggling while driving, aka JWD in the law enforcement community. Too many tasks, not enough arms. If you’re going to ride a motorcycle and talk on the phone, then you need to be a squid.

I was recently at Florida’s best tourist attraction, Butterfly World. It is a place where I go for a guaranteed blood pressure drop of at least 20 points. You enter, sit on a bench, listen to quiet music and watch psychedelic-colored butterflies gently fluttering about. Very relaxing and peaceful—that is, until this obnoxiously loud woman barreled in with her Turbo Nokia and proceeded to enlighten everyone in the park about her struggle to get into a pair of jeans she had bought just the week before. On and on and on she rambled. Even the butterflies were rolling their eyes at each other. Finally a caterpillar dropped down onto her shoulder and said, “Lady, would you please shut the hell up? I’m trying to metamorphose here.”

Call me an extremist, but I personally think all cell phones should be outlawed. I think they’re evil and dangerous. And anyone who doesn’t think so should perhaps spend a few minutes with Naomi Campbell’s scabby maid who was assaulted by her cell phone-wielding supermodel employer. And don’t tell me, “Cell phones don’t kill people. People kill people.” Cell phones are a cheap and efficient detonator for bombs, and therefore qualify as weapons of mass destruction.

Mr. President, were any WMD’s found in Iraq?

Absolutely, our troops rounded up and drove Hum-V’s over 800,000 detonators belonging to insurgents with calling plans that featured unlimited nights and weekends.

Recently a man suffered second degree burns on his thigh when his cell phone battery exploded. Talk about hot pockets. A Chinese man was killed when his cell phone in his breast pocket exploded, causing a rib to pierce his heart. And now the security industry is making stun guns that look like cell phones. Look on the Web. They’re all over the place. Now there’s something you want to leave lying around for your kids to find. Yeah, right there next to the candy jar filled with Seconol Pops.

“Mom, I’m borrowing your phone for a sec. I need to call my YAAAAAAAAAAAAH!”


Google “cell phone gun,” and you’ll find that some clever organization is manufacturing guns that look just like cell phones. They are capable of firing four, 22-caliber rounds. The bullets fire through the antenna/barrel after the 5, 6, 7, or 8 buttons are pushed.

So how’d you end up here in the psychiatric wing?

I, uh, tried to kill myself, but I got a wrong number instead. Turns out someone programmed the suicide hotline into the speed dial of my gun.

Maybe this little “Get Smart” novelty does have four rounds, but you’d have to count on wasting one bullet. You’d have to shoot one in the air, just show the people that you’re threatening (i.e., the ones laughing at you) that it really is a weapon.

Think about that the next time you get on a plane. Is that cell phone next to you really a cell phone or is it a—

“Nobody move. We’re turning this plane around and going to—”


“Get back or I’ll—”


Dammit, I brought the wrong phone. Never mind.”

No comments:

Post a Comment