Why I Hate Cell Phones, and How I'd Deal With the Problem.
It's happened to us all at one time or another. Picture this: you're sitting in church, the preacher has just preached his wrathful sermon on vice. He has begun his tear-stained pleas for someone, some unsaved sinner to approach the altar and receive the official forgiveness and blessing. In the ensuing quiet, uncomfortable period, that period when you wonder if, in spite of your already exemplary life, perhaps YOU should approach, the silence is split with the strains of "Dixie". Everyone looks around in surprise and mounting anger, as Joe Sunday sheepishly reaches into his pocket, extracts his cell phone and turns off the ringer. Welcome to the cell-phone era.
What are the characteristics of this era? What makes this period so different from say, the Nixon Era, the Elvis era, or even the Television Era? More importantly, how has this innocuous little device become one of the most hated "conveniences" of our time?
Look around you. At any time, wherever you go, you'll see someone with one of these little plastic devices clamped to their heads like it was glued there. They may be laughing, whispering, shouting or snarling into the phone, but chances are they're completely oblivious to what is going on around them. That may not be troublesome if they're shopping at Wal-mart or walking in the mall, but what about if they're driving a 3000-pound SUV at 50 miles an hour through town during rush hour?
Recently, I was stopped at a red light downtown, drumming my fingers on the steering wheel and humming along as The Who pounded out "Won't Get Fooled Again". The light changed to green and I started forward, when suddenly an SUV the size of a clipper ship sailed right through the red light. The driver was an attractive young woman who was shouting into her cell-phone, face contorted with anger and completely oblivious to the fact that she nearly destroyed my beloved $2000 Nissan pickup with her inattentive driving. I sat for a moment, head down, hands gripping the steering wheel and waited for my heart-rate to slow down enough for me to drive on.
Almost everyone I know has experienced moments like this. Perhaps you're trying to eat a quiet dinner with your spouse while some yahoo at the table next to you is on his cell phone talking about Uncle Willy's latest prostate exam. Goodbye appetite, hello Tums. Or maybe you're sitting in the darkened theater, and the movie has reached its critical moment. Aha, the murderer is about to be revealed! Suddenly, at this critical juncture, Beethoven's "Ode to Joy" begins. Yep, some bozo has forgotten to turn the phone off. You can feel the wrath building in the darkness as the said bozo exits, whispering frantically into the phone.
Since everyone is irritated by episodes like this, why does it happen with such regularity? Why don't people get the hint?
I have a theory we can call the Me-Centered theory. It is a simple explanation for the cell-phone phenomena. It is something that has been culturally conditioned into us, a philosophy that we've been trained from birth to embrace whole-heartedly; namely, that nothing is more important than Me. If someone needs to talk to Me on the phone during a movie, or while people are eating, that's too bad because I have a right to MY cell-phone conversation. Really, It's All About Me, and To Heck With What Other People Think. Can you say Rampant Ego?
Great, Basil, you may say. You've defined the problem, but what about a solution? It's easy to point out problems, but much more difficult to solve them. Ah, I'm glad you brought it up, cause you see, I DO have a solution, one that will solve this problem in record time.
Picture this: you're in a restaurant sitting at dinner with your spouse and children, bent over your tasty plate of mashed potatoes and peas, when the lady at the table next to you begins a loud conversation on her cell-phone. "Yes, the surgery was a success. George is doing fine, although he wears a colostomy bag now. He has to remove that thing once or twice a day, but I certainly don't touch it. Girl-friend, let's don't EVEN talk about the smell."
You pause, reach into your pocket and pull out a small plastic device. You flip a switch, and depress the red button. The cell phone suddenly explodes in Talking Lady's hand thus ending her conversation for the evening, and probably for several weeks. People look around in surprise, then give you a standing ovation as you humbly acknowledge them with a nod. A couple of diners walk over to Talking Lady, who is lying spraddled on the floor like a beached whale, and spit on her yellow polyester stretch-pants. Everyone returns to their meal as a waiter hurriedly wheels Talking Lady out on a gurney to the back of the restaurant where she'll lie next to the dumpster, waiting for the medics to arrive in an hour or so. Viola, a solution.
Admittedly, my solution is a bit radical. Yes, there will be injuries. Yes, there will be messes to be cleaned up, faces and hands to be stitched, hearing aids to be fitted, but in the end society will be richly served with this device. I proudly claim title to this device: The Basil Demotomos Cell-phone Nullifier. Can you say Nobel Prize?