Jewish World Review May 1, 2002 / 19 Iyar, 5762
http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | Oh, hey, I'm pulling into the driveway. Great talking to you!" Click.
Hey, great talking to you, too! How super fun to hear all those details about the traffic and the exit you're passing and the TV show you watched part of last night and the (pause, curse, honking noises) lane change you just made and the (pause, curse, siren noises) U-turn you just made and how swell it was we had this chance to catch up, but now you're home and obviously have way better things to do than talk to me, who obviously has nothing at all to do. No, my boss pays me to just sit here fielding calls from friends on their cell phones so, Bye!
Voilà, the lively art of conversation, with a retractable antenna through its heart. Ever since cell phone providers started offering free long distance and gazillions of minutes a month, anyone with a traditional phone and a tendency to pick it up has been screwed.
"Hi, I'm calling from my cell phone!" has become as dreaded a greeting as, "Hi! I'm calling from the cell phone company!"
"Just because you've got extra time in your 'minute plan' doesn't mean I've got extra minutes in my life," my pal Chris McLemore fumes.
"I'm tired of baby-sitting people who call me from their cars," agrees Stacey Miller, an entrepreneur in Massachusetts.
While we all understand that drive time is sometimes the only time when busy people can chat for fun, what those folks don't seem to realize is that their conversations are as lively as roadkill.
The biggest problem, of course, is that decent drivers can't pay complete attention to what they're saying because they are multi-tasking with a ton of speeding steel. Worse, they pay even less attention to what we're saying because we are their Lite FM - a pleasant soundtrack to enjoy for the ride.
And then turn off.
Then there's the little issue of reception. "Face it," says Arthur Greenwald, a TV producer. "The cell phone is still being invented." Right now it's at roughly the same developmental stage as the crank phone, which is why even the trendiest types with the tiniest phones end up yelling into the mouthpiece sure as great-aunt Adelaide when she was trying to reach the butcher. So a typical car-to-long-suffering-friend call goes like this:
"Hi. I'm on my way to - WHAT? I'm losing you. Can you hear me? I can't hear you. CAN YOU HEAR ME? I can hear half of you. Can you hear me now? HOW ABOUT NOW? Are you there? Call me back!
Hello? I WANT TO TALK SOME MORE!"
Well, not me. And not some of the others I've heard of. My friend Gary had a buddy who would only call him from the car. They are friends no more.
While I do truly love some of the people who call me while commuting, here's my new trick: "Hello? Hello?
You say you're calling from the bar? CAN YOU HEAR ME? HANG UP! I'll call you right back!"
On your home number.
04/16/02: Chats of a lifetime