Judging from my salutation, you may have assumed that I was incarcerated, and in a sense I am. Once again, I find myself trapped next to you and your cell phone in one of the following scenarios:
1. In the last remaining seat in the gate area for a flight that has been delayed 3 hours.
2. In line at any retail checkout in America.
3. At a sporting event listening to your description of the plays, where one colorful announcer is really all anyone needs.
4. In the next restroom stall.
While I believe in the common good, the First Amendment, Santa Claus and the medicinal value of chocolate, I do not believe in your right to share with me the most intimate details of your life, including:
1. Your recent gallbladder surgery.
2. How your job is sucking the very lifeblood out of you.
3. Why your wife left you and what she took with her.
4. Your instructions to your children on how to give the dog his worm pills.
5. Phone sex with someone really, really hot.
Lord knows I have tried initially in the most subtle and later, blatant manner to signal you that I’d really rather not hear whatever it is you feel you must communicate at this very moment to the person on the other end of the line. For some reason, you seem to believe that you are encased in the world’s most private, but invisible phone booth.
It seems that with cell phone ownership comes some privileged membership that elevates the user to an almost supernatural status. “Fellow inhabitants of this planet, now that I have been elevated to Royal Cell Phone User Extraordinaire, I must be accessible at all times to receive urgent, intergalactic messages, upon which could possibly rest the future of this planet or at least my personal safety should I forget to pick up ‘Police Academy 7’ at the video store.”
Don’t get me started on the Dr. Spock ear pieces which say to the passerby, “I can’t be bothered with you. I am receiving the global positioning coordinates to which I must apply very complex mathematical formulas and translate to save mankind. Do not address me, unless, of course, you are ready to take my order for my Whataburger.”
It is so very rude to have people wearing these devices look straight at you and say, “Baby, you hot!” And before you can even say, “Don’t you think that is a bit forward, we haven’t even been introduced,” they have walked right by you and continued their conversation with someone clearly hotter than you.
Never do I feel less important than when in deep discussion about issues of critical importance, such as whether we will go to the 1:40 matinee or the 3:45, that you insist on taking a call from your sister to discuss how deep she should plant her caladium bulbs. Heavens knows, caladiums are sensitive little plants and a difference of one or more inches below the soil might not be good, but is it more important than our matinee time? Since when did a phone call become so important that it takes precedence over life in the here and now?
As if it is not enough to become the standby person in a conversation, must I now eavesdrop on your personal conversation/confessional with someone who is obviously more important that I am? Of course, I could retaliate and call someone much more important than your sister and her caladiums, but who? I am pretty sure that my cell phone austerity program has caused my number of callers and recipients to dwindle into numbers that can be counted on one hand.
Don’t get me wrong, cell phones save lives and provide for many people the only link they have to the outside world. For others, they are an umbilical cord, a security blanket and a ready answer to that critical question, “Do you want rice or potatoes tonight?” While that voice on the other end of the line may be friendly and familiar, think of all the conservations with real, live people you have missed.