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Your Cell Phone and You

Almost everyone in the whole world (or at least in the state of Texas) has a cell phone. I was walking across a medium sized university campus the other day and noticed that of the approximately 13,000 students enrolled 12,932 had cell phones and were talking on them as they walked across campus. While this is not as hazardous as having 1032 out of every 1,000 drivers on the interstate talking on cell phones, it still can generate problems such as stepping off curbs into oncoming traffic or tripping over the wall and falling into the fountain.

What are these people talking about? How did they talk about this stuff before the advent of cell phones? Although I did not listen to any complete conversations, so I could not have been considered to be eavesdropping, I did manage to pick up bits and pieces of several conversations while walking across campus.

Male Student: “Man, she was good looking. The first words out of her mouth were the southern woman’s mating call*.”
Female Student: “If you don’t have a microwave, you can heat it up with your hair dryer.”
Female Student: “He barfed all over my mother and then daddy threw him out of the house.”
Male Student: “Communication Theory sucks.”
Male Faculty Member: “Our dean sucks.”
Female Student: “I’ve never seen a guy get dressed so fast.”
Female Student: “He has a really cute butt—maybe cuter than Brad Pitt’s.”
Male Student: “Did you read the Houstonian last Tuesday?…..I didn’t either.”
Female Student: “It was all over in, like, 10 seconds.”
Male Student: “Beer, man. It’s all about beer.”
Male Student: “You can pick up more chicks with a ferret than with a puppy.”

That’s just a sampling of the many cell phone conversations one can hear every day while walking around. You can tell from only one side of these conversations that the cell phone has opened up new opportunities for interpersonal communication at a high level. There are, however, certain risks inherent to cell phone ownership. A true story will show you what I mean. The story was told by Molly’s** mother.

“Yesterday, after I picked up Molly from school, we had to make a stop at Card and Party Factory for some graduation party supplies for our student worker. While there, Molly had to go “potty.” The man working there said they didn’t have a public restroom but since a serious emergency was imminent, he pointed the way to the tiniest restroom in east Texas. Molly took care of business and I thanked the Lord that we had made it. We flushed. Molly had trouble pulling up her shorts so I helped as much as I could in the tiny room. In the process of bending over helping, my purse swung around my shoulder hit the wall, popped open and out flew my cell phone. It hit my leg and bounced, you guessed it, into the potty. Molly said, “oops.” I said something that is not printable, then closed my eyes, held my breath, grabbed the phone from the potty and threw it into the tiny sink. I cleaned it off with a paper towel, in fact several paper towels. The phone, greatly annoyed by this whole procedure, began buzzing really loudly. I wrapped it in more paper towels and put it in my purse. You could still hear it buzzing—loudly. People looked at me suspiciously. `I’m not a terrorist.’ I tried to explain I had a renegade cell phone in my purse and Molly helped by telling everyone in the store, “Mama’s phone fell in the potty.”

As you can see from this experience, several warm interpersonal encounters could have taken place with all the people in the shop that could not have occurred without the cell phone. So the risk is probably worth it.

The risk of driving while talking on the cell phone is another matter. On any given day one can see drivers talking on their phones while weaving from lane to lane, running stop signs, running down pedestrians, and running into peaceful and harmless stationary objects like utility poles. What are these people talking about? Some are talking to their wives explaining why they are going to be home very late. (They have scheduled an inappropriate liaison.) Some are talking to their girlfriends trying to schedule an inappropriate liaison. Some are women.

I have a modest proposal that will vastly increase the utility of the cell phone although it will do nothing to improve its safety. ALL DRIVERS SHOULD BE REQUIRED TO POST THEIR CELL PHONE NUMBERS IN 4-INCH HIGH NUMERALS ON BOTH SIDES AND THE REAR OF THEIR AUTOMOBILES.

Just think of the advantages. A Good Samaritan could call the person in front and say, “Your rear tire is going flat.” You could call the slow driving person in the left lane of the interstate and suggest that if they wanted to drive at horse and buggy speed they should move to Amish country.

You: “You jerk. You cut me off. I’ll get you before the next exit. Hold on I’ve got another call. Hello.”
Another driver: “ You’re weaving from lane to lane, you jerk. Why don’t you get off the road if you can’t drive.”
You: “I’ve got to put you on hold; I’ve got another jerk on the other line.”

If my modest proposal is adopted, drivers could assist each other with the helpful suggestions we all make now, but no one hears because we are just yelling at the top of our voices in our own cars.

The final advantage is when you pass a gorgeous person on the interstate; you simply dial that number, introduce yourself and suggest an inappropriate liaison as soon as possible.

*Ya’ll I’m soooo drunk.

**Molly is not her real name. Her real name is Mollie.