08 December 2008

The Scourge of the Cell Phone

Okay, so the topic of cell phones and driving has been a pet peeve of mine for a long time. I just do not understand what possesses people to yak away on their cell phone while barreling down the highway in what amounts to a speeding death machine. Alas, all I can do is write about it and express my opinions so here are my opinions for your reading pleasure...

You see them everywhere. The loudmouth in the restaurant, the person that almost ran you off the road, the oblivious idiot treating the cashier like a servant. People and their cell phones, a ruination of a once polite society. When I was a kid, there were no cell phones; we had a rotary dial phone and if you wanted to make a call when away from home you used a pay phone. Sure car phones were around but those were reserved for the rich people...and Jethro Bodine until he ran out of phone cord.

Cell phones are everywhere now; it seems that every person over the age of 4 has a cell phone. With this wonderful invention comes a little condition I call "cellphoneitis" This condition manifests itself in otherwise normal human beings and transforms them into morons. It is a debilitating condition that renders its victim unable to recognize others, regulate their own voice, drive, walk, eat, order food, etc. It starts innocently enough; a person gets a new cell phone and declares it will only be used for emergencies. Ah yes but, the service provider entices this person with cool add-ons like texting, internet browsing, television, music and games! Cool, our subject thinks, I can listen to my idol Barry Manilow while I am at work!

Then the disease attacks; suddenly the phone becomes more important than paying attention to driving. The compulsion to hold the phone to the ear and chat about absolutely nothing to the friend you just saw at school/work overrides the common sense that is screaming, 'WATCH OUT FOR THAT CAR/MOTORCYCLE/BICYCLE/PEDESTRIAN!!!!' Cellphoneitis is a debilitating condition that can only be cured one way; take the phone away and destroy it.

I don't know how clear I can make this so I will just say it; a car is not a phone booth. When driving, you have to pay complete attention to everything that is going on around you; if you do not, then your vehicle becomes a deadly weapon because you are barreling down the road and chatting away with whoever it is people talk to. Who or what could possibly be so important that you would risk other people's lives?

But enough of the very inconsiderate killer in the car; let's now turn our attention to the cell phone talker in the various public areas around this land. I'm sure we have all had the unfortunate experience of mister or miss loudmouth in the coffee shop talking rather loudly about their Aunt Edna's kidney stone or telling their stockbroker to sell that thousand shares of whatchamacallit corporation. These people really compel me to ask the question; are you truly that vain and vapid as to think the whole world really wants to hear the intimate details of your life? Do you really think it makes you look important when, in reality, it makes you look like an ignorant doofus?

Now I am not talking about the people who talk discreetly on their cell phones or excuse themselves when the damned thing rings. Usually these people are polite and caring; they understand how rude it is to answer your phone when in the middle of a conversation without excusing yourself. That and they recognize that others' time is just as important as theirs.

For example, the barista at the Starbucks waiting patiently for you to finish your conversation is not doing this to be polite; he or she is doing this because you need to give them your full attention when ordering. To sit there yakking on your phone in front of the barista/cashier/waiter/waitress, etc. is just rude. Has anyone noticed the signs popping up around various coffee shops and other businesses asking you to not talk on your cell phone when at the counter?

Personally, I think cell phones should have sensors that can tell when a vehicle is in motion or when the person is at a counter and they shut off during that time. Or maybe a device that identifies a vehicle with a cell phone yakking driver; maybe it can light up a sign embedded in the rear glass that says, "CAUTION, INATTENTIVE IDIOT DRIVER ONBOARD!" Maybe then the rest of us will be able to avoid the inevitable accidents.