Location: Iowa, United States

61 years old (pretty old for a blogger) proud to be a grandpa

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Just more stuff on cell phones

I realize there's been considerable discussion of cell phones on the blogs I frequent but I couldn't help adding this snippet from a recent Joseph Epstein column in the Weekly Standard:

"People talking to themselves used to be fairly common in Manhattan, but the assumption was always that those doing so were a little--sometimes much more than a little--nuts. Now lots of people walk the street talking not actually to themselves but to other, unseen parties, and generally much louder than your standard maniac talks to himself. Maniacs, in my experience, tend to mutter; cell phone talkers to be stentorian. Perhaps because cell phones are so small people feel they have to make up for the size of the instrument by shouting into it.I don't think
I'll ever get used to looking at someone alone talking loudly as he walks down the street, especially when he is doing so into a headset, with no phone in sight. I'm often amazed at the subjects on which people talk in public on their cell phones--many of them very private subjects. I've not yet heard a woman breaking up with a lover, though I have heard a man tell someone off at a high level of vituperation while waiting for a stoplight to change. Once, on Michigan Avenue in Chicago, I heard a young woman say into her cell phone, "Yes, Mother, I'm calling you from the top of the Ferris wheel at Navy Pier. I can see the entire city from here." I wanted to call out: "Madam, your daughter is a liar. She's here on the street carrying a Gap bag."All this loose talk over cell phones can be irritating, even infuriating. On a bus ride between San Francisco and Santa Rosa, I witnessed the driver ask a passenger to leave the bus because the loudness of his cell phone conversations was bugging her and everyone else on the bus. We all felt like applauding.
Everyone, I suspect, has had a moment when he wished he could grab the cell phone from a boisterous talker and smash it on the sidewalk. A friend of mine named Ann Poole told me about sitting on a commuter train from her suburb into Chicago, in front of a young woman who made no fewer than ten cell phone calls to friends, explaining in great detail why she was changing the restaurant in which she was giving a lunch party that Saturday. Many of the people she called weren't in, so, in a loud and irritating voice, she left elaborate instructions on voice mail about the change in plan along with the reasons for the change. "Hi, this is Amy Hemstead [I'm making up the name], and I thought I'd let you know that I've changed the location of Saturday's lunch from the Zodiac Café to Phil Stefani's. We're still meeting at noon. . . . " And then she babbled on a bit more as my friend Ann, who fervently believes that trains are for reading not phoning, seethed in a quiet but genuine rage."Did you do anything about it?" I asked."I said nothing," she replied, "but when I got to work, I called Stefani's and, using dear Amy's name, I cancelled her reservation for Saturday."Devastating, and delightful, I'd say, and richly deserved."- Joseph Epstein