Ichabod's Kin
A place for politics, pop culture, and social issues

CELL PHONES & BIG MOUTHS

     Travel is no longer much fun, and trips long and short induce this summary of experiences:

     First the usual mysteries of the road: people who don’t know the town they live in, and those hired to be at your service but are ignorant of their job descriptions.

     Inquire at a gas pump, a department store checkout or of a local-yokel on foot, where a certain street is, and they won’t know, but will then yell at a colleague who doesn’t know either, till you borrow a map and find it’s the next street over.

     I used a GPS on another trip and would have been on time at destination but was led from the airport to a location considerably north–thence many miles south where we arrived very late. We’ve never used a Garman again.

     Methought then that if anyone knew directions it would be liquor store salesmen, but women are now employed as a cost-saving measure and the gals only know the way home and to their mother’s house.

     Then there are those paid to help you at airports or wherever but, oh, dear they’ve had a bad day. Even holding your mouth right can get you nowhere, and complaints to supervisors reveal that one staffer isn’t feeling well; another’s supposed solicitations were mistaken by us for petulance; and a young woman, alas, was mad at her boyfriend and deserved our sympathy.

     Since being good sports and exhibiting patience is not enough while on the road, we have taken to prayer–and to tossing salt over our shoulders as a default mode. But I hereby submit that nothing works.

     In these latter days, before an asteroid strikes earth and none of this will matter, it is also the age of technology, and I am thoroughly mystified at cell phone behavior. I have a smartphone (so-called because I am dumb for needing one)–and I abide by public rules for their use. But others assiduously avoid such compliance.

     I even check my unheard calls and email on it when no one else is in the room, but on their sudden re-entrance the first utterance heard is, “Oh, there you are on your cellphone again”—regardless that when others are on land-line in another room, it is for lengthy duration and can be heard all over the building.

     But cell users are not the only culprits here. On public conveyances, people with big voices are bad as any. C&J drivers ask all to avoid cell calls while en route, but not a word is said about loud conversations, meaning you get to hear both ends of them.

     On a 3:30 a.m. trip to an airport last year, two male retirees wanted us all to know that one didn’t like broccoli and the other shared at length how wonderful his granddaughter is. I vowed no repetition of such incident. On the next such commute, a couple behind yakked about the most inane crap you can imagine. I stepped over to the driver and requested that all patrons be asked to consider the early hour by keeping all conversation to a minimum, and muted, given this may be the only rest and quiet some passengers may have had, or get, for the rest of the day.

     To my delight, the driver repeated it almost verbatim and the yakkers ceased and desisted. I don’t mind risking wrath as long as I feel I’m on principled ground; but, as we know, most people are not so disposed, and instead disinclined to risk others’ judgment–forgetting that many folks, confronted with truth, will oblige its wisdom; those who don’t, I care not a fig about and seek not their admiration.

     Our commuter rail is another matter. Some cars are supposed to be cell-phone free but I’ve yet to find one. It is my luck therefore to be seated near jackasses who carry on the most ridiculous conversations viva voce. I find this intolerable and have taken to an effective remedy: when behind such gentry, I take out my own phone and pretend to be in idle but lively prittle-prattle with a (nonexistent) conversationalist.

     I speak more loudly than is my habit, and have found I am an expert in creatively banal verbiage. This annoys the jerk-wad and brings him to twist around and administer a hateful stare–whilst I avoid such glances by looking out the window, cheerful and uninterrupted all the while.

     If he shuts up, I conclude my one-sided dialogue; should his chit-chat resume, I can always think of another imaginary friend who needs a long, caring, trivial check-in.

     To wit, I’ve found that having a good humor about those who intrude upon my privacy and good graces is the better way. After all, laughter is the best medicine, even when it’s only mine.

 

 

 

John Burciaga - "Ichabod"

John Burciaga – “Ichabod”

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