Cell phone culture: the umbilical cord

Sitting near me in the diner was a man in a work uniform. His cell rang. He answered it, listened for a moment, then said, “You need to order the whole valve assembly. The guy at Debby Supply will know; just tell him ‘the whole assembly.’ I’ll pick it up there in about forty-five minutes…good-bye.”

That may be the single cell phone conversation I’ve heard, since the advent of that electronic umbilical cord, that sounded necessary. A friend told me she was recently walking from her car in the parking lot, into the college where her husband works. Ahead of her walking was a young man talking on his cell phone. She heard him say, “I’m walking from my car into the school right now.”

Okay, okay, I’m not a fan of the cell phone. I should get off the playing field. But wait, these yakkers with no sense of personal boundaries are on MY playing field. I’m waiting for the guy in front of me talking on his cell phone to realize the light turned green. I’m waiting for the woman in front of me at the checkout trying to find her money in her purse using just one hand while holding her umbilical cord with the other, carrying on a conversation of dire importance: “Well, you know, I mean, I don’t know…” A frustrated look appears on her face as if we – here in line and the cashier – are the problem, not the phone call.

In the same diner a man called in an entire weekly sales report on his cell. Like most men on their cells, he talked loudly. I wanted to say, “Let’s make a deal; I won’t bring my lunch to your office, and you won’t bring your office to my lunch.” That was when cell phones first came out. It’s been more than a decade now and the deal still holds.

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3 Comments on “Cell phone culture: the umbilical cord”

  1. Jen Says:

    That was a great article. Oh dear I’d like to say more but my cell is ringing.

  2. Donna Cunningham Says:

    The most ridiculous example I’ve witnessed of cell phone usage occured in the Tampa Airport last fall. My husband and I were waiting in the baggage claim area. A young man, lying on his duffle bag, felt the need to call his buddy. The essence of the conversation was, “Hey, I’m in Tampa, Florida and let me tell you to weather is awesome. Right now it’s in the mid-80’s.” The kid hadn’t even left the terminal yet.

  3. Diane Says:

    Maybe it’s just up to each of us to remind the person that their behavior is offensive rather than being expected to suffer through it, even though nearly everyone agrees that cell phone use is unacceptable in SO many situations.
    There are a few small businesses that refuse to take your order/money while you are on the cell phone. One was in North Beach in San Francisco. I saw the owner enforde it one marning when the coffee bar was really busy, and the woman involved could not believe that he refused to serve her because, as he announved loudly to the others in line ” She’s on the phone”. Embarrassed, she hung up quickly.
    Another time, I was riding BART, and we were going into and out of tunnels in the East Bay. A woman kept calling and re-calling her mother between black-out points, talking about Suzie’s soccer and Billy’s whatever. After leaving one of the tunnels, a man sitting across from her reached out and covered the phone with his hand as she attempted to flip it open and redial. “No one really wants to listen to that,.” he said calmly. She looked shocked, but put the phone away.


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