Monday, September 3, 2012

Hellooo... down unduh?

    With scarab-like Bluetooth beetles in their ears, some mumbling, some talking quite loud, I see shoppers lost in their own little worlds of communication. Why people need to talk on the phone to share their shopping experience with someone in Australia, yes Australia, sharing their own down-unduh shopping experience is beyond me. Email, it’s cheaper.
    Years ago, somewhere between cell phones the size of a brick and flip-phones, I remember the first person I ever saw talking in public without a phone visible.
    Standing behind a rather tall construction-type at Dunkin Donuts one morning; I listened as he ordered a large, light and sweet and something coated in sugar with a hole in it. Placing his hands on the counter, and staring ahead he carried on an entire conversation with himself.  The coffee-kid looked at me and shrugged; I raised my eyebrows and backed up. To me it was obvious, Mr. Large, Light and Sweet was a few drops short of a full cup. 
    Smiling from behind the counter, coffee-kid watched as the guy left, “I think he was talking on a phone,” he said as I placed my order.
    I thought it stupid that in a room full of early morning highly caffeinated-strangers he carried on a conversation as if he were conversing with the little voices in his head, not with someone on the other end of a phone. I guess we were the stupid ones, he was doing then what comes so naturally now.
    While standing in line recently at Stop and Shop I came to the realization that there is a direct correlation between cell phones and cash registers; approach cashier, phone rings. I know it’s rude to answer my phone while the cashier is completing my order, it’s rude to answer in a restaurant, a church, at a wedding or a funeral and against the law in the car but I’m always afraid someone needs me. That's what I say but actually that’s not it; I don't just don't know how to stop the ringing before it gets to voice-mail after ten rings. Ten rings is long enough for people to get really annoyed and boo like I'm A-Rod at bat at Fenway.
    Though cell phones and their free-minute by free-minute intrusion, seems like an assault on our human need to be alone, they are both a blessing and a curse to parents with teenage children. When I wanted to stay out late, or my car broke down, I had to find a phone booth and a dime to wake up my mother and make excuses. When my daughters started to drive, a cell-phone went along with their license; an electronic-chaperone of sorts. I could call them whenever my intuition went wild, and they could call me when they needed to lie.
    Personally my cell phone gives me comfort. With it buried in the pit, I call my purse, I’m never alone. I may not be able to find it but I know it’s there if I need it. I have one of those common ring-tones half the world’s population answers to, so when it comes to life in a crowd, I hear half a dozen people mumbling, ‘is that my phone.’ No, it’s my purse.
    Children, born in the last few years, are being raised in a Steve Jobs world of technology. Cell-phones of today will be the dial-phones of tomorrow. I expect those Bluetooth beetles, people wear now, will become implants. No need to worry about digging my phone out of the pit…sneeze, and someone halfway around the world will answer, ‘G-day mate’.

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