Friday, May 18, 2007

What Did Rude People Do Before Cell Phones?

Charles Dickens, Sara Nelson and Ariana Franklin combined efforts this morning to save a life and keep me from a Houston jail cell. We left the house this morning at 5:30 A.M. (me, wife and in-laws) to keep a 7:00 A.M. check-in appointment at the hospital where my mother-in-law was scheduled for back surgery. Needless to say, at that hour of the morning only one other group had arrived and been processed before us. Eventually the family waiting area filled up with people who were waiting to be notified by doctors about how their particular family member came through one type of surgery or another. Until 9:00 all was well, with CNN playing quietly on the big screen television, some people sleeping and others talking quietly to family members. Up to that point no one had any surgery news to share with others so there was almost no cell phone activity in the room.

That all ended with the arrival of the cell phone addict from hell who arrived just after nine and proceeded to shout almost continuously into TWO cell phones, sometimes simultaneously (one in each ear, I swear), in Spanish for the next three hours. She remained completely oblivious to the stares, gestures and mutterings directed her way and managed to drive 2/3 of the other people completely out of the room to either stand in the hallway or sit in the dining room. Three things saved her life: My wife reminded me a dozen times that it wasn't worth causing a scene, I don't understand much Spanish anymore and could at least tune out the meaning of her constant blabber, and I had three books with me to pass the time. By switching between books I was able to maintain a level of concentration that made the situation at least tolerable.

I somehow managed to read about 60 pages in each of Great Expectations, So Many Books, So Little Time, and Mistress of the Art of Death. I'll be finishing all three of them in the next few days, I suspect, so I'll save my remarks about the books until I'm done.

Today I just want to thank Mr. Dickens and the Nelson and Franklin ladies for their heroic efforts.

14 comments:

  1. Oh, how annoying!! I am not fond of cell phones. I always seem to sit behind the person on the bus talking on a cell phone when I just want to read. And inevitably they are talking about a friend doing jail time or a nasty relationship. My bad luck! At least you made progress in your books! I hope your MIL is okay!

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  2. The surgery went well, thanks, and she should be out of the hospital by Sunday afternoon looks like.

    I used to get trapped on trains in the U.K. where I suffered through some of the weirdest cell phone conversations (even weirder when you only hear one side of the conversation) that I've ever heard in my life. Let's just say that some people have NO shame.

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  3. I am totally with you on the cell phone rudeness annoyance. Drives me nuts. And now peole walk around with the bluetooth ear thingies and I never know if they are crazy, talking to me, or are on the phone. Great photo. Hope the surgery turned out well.

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  4. You know what works, sometimes? Not always, but sometimes? Just staring in apparent fascination like you're hanging on their every word. It's actually sort of funny how they decide YOU are the rude one and give you dirty looks, but a lot of the time, they'll go outside or into the hall or whatever.

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  5. I really don't understand how people can be so oblivious to the reactions of those around them in such situations. It doesn't matter whether it is a hospital or a train. The offender just has never considered that others might find the activity objectionable in the setting. AAArrrghh!

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  6. Stefanie, I remember the first time I saw one of those things in a crowded situation. I was in the London underground waiting for a train when I spotted a well-dressed fellow walking up and down the platform "talking to himself." As crowded as that platform was, the man sure seemed to have a lot of empty space around him. :-)

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  7. Dew, when I have someone with me who's willing to help out, we will sometimes move in closer to the phone nut and start to discuss his/her phone conversation among ourselves, speculating on what the caller should do or say next. That usually results in exactly what you describe...but ultimately in the phone being cut off or the caller leaving the area.

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  8. The cell phone does, indeed, have a lot to answer for, Captain.

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  9. Jill, hard as it is for me to understand, there seem to be countless people who just couldn't care less about disturbing others. The world revolves around them, and their mindless conversations, after all.

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  10. ''The world revolves around them, and their mindless conversations, after all.''

    Exactly! They are the most anti-social device ever invented.It's illegal to use the darn things while driving over here; do you have the same rule?

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  11. Nick, we don't have a national law banning the use of cell phones while driving but I do think that a few individual states have passed such laws. Texas is not one of them, unfortunately.

    It's an established fact that yacking drivers cause a large number of accidents. I was almost side-swiped by one of the idiots just a couple of months ago and she never did react to all my horn blowing...I was able to move over into another lane at the very last instant in order to avoid her. I'm not sure she ever noticed. :-(

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  12. My town has an ordinance against cell phones while driving. But the fine is $60, a pittance to people whose SUVs need $60 worth of gas just to get to soccer practice. So you see them being used by drivers anyway.

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  13. Dewey, that sort of makes me wonder just how high the fine would have to be to get their attention and make it too expensive to ignore the law. Maybe it has to be in triple digits to have an impact on them...or maybe it needs to be more strongly enforced. After all, those $60 fines would add up over time.

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