Sunday, May 26, 2013

Cell phone drama trauma

I wrote this in 2006. I have edited it slightly.

I hate cell phones. I have one, but hate it. Those phones have become a major distraction in our lives. There is also a matter of common courtesy, which a lot of people don't observe, and that is not talking in public on a cell phone so the world can hear your business.

I was in a thrift store looking for books when I heard the familiar yakking of someone talking loudly on a cell phone as if the rest of the world didn't exist. However, this call was intriguing. I looked around the bookcase to see a woman on a phone, saying, “You’d better pull over! Does the hospital know you're coming? I'll call the paramedics! I'll stay on the line with you, keep talking.”

Another woman, a bystander, handed the first woman her own cell phone and she used it to call 911 while keeping her own phone open to her husband. In the 911 call she reported her husband was on Riverdale Road heading for the emergency room; he was feeling faint and she was afraid he'd pass out while driving. In the meantime she would go back to her own phone yelling at him , “Don't drive! Pull over! Let the paramedics find you!”

The guy apparently decided to keep driving, faintness or not. I noticed a crowd starting to gather around the woman, and she saw them too. At that point she became the star of a play, a movie or TV show. She started making big flourishes with her hands, her voice took on an added sense of urgency. She lost contact with her husband and so she called her son, telling him in her most dramatic tones, “Your dad is on the road and I want you to trace his route to the hospital to find out if he's crashed!”

The crowd moved in a little bit closer. Oboy. This was like a movie, huh? And it didn't even cost anything for admission! To save you from suspense I'll cut to the bottom line: the man made it to the hospital and was admitted, the son made it to the hospital to be with his dad, the woman handed back the phone to the lady who had volunteered it, and as a crowd we all went back to our business. It was the kind of extraordinary thing that a cell phone does; it puts bystanders into someone else's life, even if only for a few moments. You get one part of a conversation, and our minds provide the rest of the story.

It's ruder than hell, though, to talk like that in public. I still hate cell phones for just that reason.


Kirk said...

I have a cell phone for one reason only. I've always driven junkers, and look to be doing so for the forseeable future. If my car breaks down, there are now no more pay phones to call the AAA. Used to be, as long as you weren't out in the boondocks, there's was always one less that a 20 minute walk away.

Postino said...

Kirk, your reason is also mine for having a cell phone. I recall that was an ad campaign by one of the cell phone companies: showing a woman with small children on the side of a broken down car on a dark road. I always think I'm a pretty hard sell when it comes to advertising, but that one hit me hard. Yeah, a man would want his wife and children able to call for help in that circumstance.

Using a phone for texting and social media, not for me. But I can't fight technology and its attraction.