Everybody has the right to remain silent, I wish most cell phone users would exercise this right more often.

What part of HANG UP AND DRIVE do you not understand?!

Cell Phones


Richard A. Hanson © 2007


Foreword:  I was going to include a blurb about cell phones in Pet Peeves and Stupid People, but I decided that this particular blight on society deserved its own essay.  In my working life, I was furnished a cell phone as well as a pager by several of the companies for whom I worked.  I was on call 24/7 for years.  I was even asked by my boss once if I planned on taking my cell phone and pager with me on a week long fishing trip in the Sea of Cortez.  I asked him why and he said “in case I need to get in touch with you.”  I said “if I am really that damn important, you should be paying me a LOT more money besides that I am not sure that it will work down there and if it did ring it might accidentally fall overboard into 500 feet of water.”  When I retired I vowed never again to have another one of the cursed thing.  Now before anyone condemns me as a fossil from the Jurassic Age, let me tell you that I finally relented and got one of the damn things again. By now you are all wondering why I finally gave in if I hate the contraptions so much and you certainly deserve an answer. 


It seems that the first week of December 2006 I went missing for a couple days. I wasn’t missing; I knew exactly where I was at.  Several of my neighbors knew where I was at and I told my daughter in Texas where I was going. I went to South Eastern Nebraska visiting a blacksmith friend of mine and having a ball messing around in a real blacksmith shop. 


The problem started when my youngest son Mark called.  He left a message on the answering machine; I didn’t return his call so the next day he left another message which I once again did not return.  I was now officially “missing”.  Mark being a worrier, called his sister Heather in Texas who you will recall was informed of my plans previously.  Unfortunately my daughter’s hair suddenly became several shades lighter, the girl went blonde, and she forgot that I had said I was going to see Junior in Nebraska.  Her reply to Mark was “uhhhh I haven’t heard from him in a couple days, you know he gets kind of loopy when his blood sugar gets low.”  Heather then does the obvious, she calls and I don’t answer, well duh, so she leaves a message too.  Mark being the eternal optimist immediately assumed the worst.  Now I am not only missing, I am probably laying dead on the floor stinking up the place.  Bare with me it gets worse.  During this two day period another friend, who lives out of state, calls and leaves 3 messages.  After the first two she calls the hospital here in Rapid City to see if I am perhaps a patient and the 3rd message she leaves is “if I haven’t heard from you by tomorrow I am sending the cops to kick in your door!”  In the mean time, Heather has called my friends Jayne and Andy here in town and asks them to come over and look around.  Jayne called Heather back and told her that she looked in the garage window and the car was gone and the house was dark so I must have gone somewhere.  At that instant a miracle happened, Heather’s hair suddenly went several shades darker and her memory returned.  She said “oh yeah he said he was going to go to Nebraska for a couple days.”  Fortunately I returned home and was able to contact my friend in Alabama and inform her that I was alive before the cops kicked in my door.  Now that I am officially “found again” the kids are semi ticked at me and threaten to put me in a “Home” if I don’t get a cell phone.  Reluctantly I got one but when I did, I sent out an email with the number to the people I thought should have it with the following message:  “I now have a cell phone, the number is *** *** ****, but remember if I am laying dead on the floor stinking up the place I will not answer this one either.”


Cell Phones:  My hobby is blacksmithing, my hands are I would suppose just slightly larger than average.  This is my own assumption because as there can be only one center of a line no matter how long it is, there can be only one average man in the whole human race and I am having difficulty finding him for a comparison.  Anyway my hands are fairly good sized and from years of working with tools and hot iron they are somewhat calloused and scared up. I also have a very strong grip.  That is not to say that I am the Ham Handed Knuckle Dragger you see in the movies, but suffice to say that if you blindfolded me I would have great difficulty telling the difference between a fair maiden’s cheek and a piece of boiler plate by touch. 


Where does all this lead you ask, I will tell you.  When I go to purchase a cell phone, I get the biggest one they got which is slightly larger than my thumbnail.  This thing is so small that if an Amoeba had hands he would have difficulty using it too.  Not only that but it has a camera built in too.  You can get a camera that makes phone calls or a cell phone that takes pictures but you can’t get just a plain damn phone that is big enough to hold in your hand.  I handle hot iron with tongs, for you non blacksmiths that’s a pair pliers about 2 feet long, what I literally and figuratively fail to grasp is the concept of handling a phone with a pair of tweezers.  Then if that were not enough to drive you to distraction there are two buttons on either side of this little fly speck.  Two of them are volume controls, up and down, and the other two are camera on and take a picture.  When answering the phone, I have taken so many pictures of my eyeball that if the thing had a flash I would surely be blind in at least one eye. Keeping in mind that last summer I lost a 3 foot long Samurai Sword that I was making twice in the same day in my garage, I am wondering how long it will take me to loose this microchip sized piece of technology.  The fact that I have had it over a month and have only lost it twice, neither time permanently still amazes me.


Now let’s get to some of the other functions on this phone. Something on that contraption turns on the speaker phone function and I am not sure which button it is but it inadvertently gets pushed almost every time I answer the Lilliputian Telegraph.  This causes the phone to pickup all background noise and transmit it to the person on the other end as well as produce an echo on my end.   Now unless the person on the phone is giving me large sums of money, I am not all that interested in what they are saying.  On the other hand what I have to say is distinctly profound and people should be able to hear it with as little interference as possible.  NOTE:  I am physic too, and ya’ll better quit that groaning!


This is not only a phone, it’s a message center.  I can get text messages.  Think about this for a minute why the hell would you want to send a text message to or from a phone. Get this; I have a PHONE with a ten digit number pad on it not a keyboard.  The size of the number buttons are smaller than a freckle on a gnats ass and I have to push each one several times to get to the letter I want in order to spell out a text message.  What the HELL is wrong with this picture doesn’t that defy the concept of the telephone in the first place?  They have another mobile device that is made just for text messages etc, it is called a LAPTOP. 


I can get I Tunes on my phone, silly me I have a radio, and a CD player for when I want to listen to music. 


I have a record of calls made and received.  I have a memory and while it isn’t as good as it used to be, I can still remember what I had for breakfast.  Why I would want to remember who called me and at what time a month ago is beyond me.


My phone can store the names addresses and several phone numbers for over a hundred friends.  I don’t have a hundred friends.  I may have that many enemies and although most of them would like to see me through the scope on a rifle, few if any of them would want to talk to me. 


My phone has a bunch of “Ring Tones” and I can download more for a nominal fee.  What happened to the phone that went “ring ring”?  Now the phone plays music, vibrates, or goes ding dong.  Hell I don’t know if I am having a stroke or a heart attack because my side started tingling; if the volume on the radio suddenly got turned up because there is music playing; if I am  getting a phone call or if the Avon Lady is at the door. 


I can link my phone to my computer and get my email messages.  Just what I need mobile Spam.


I can also connect and interface with a Blackberry.  The only Blackberry I want to interface with is the jam on my toast. 


My phone has tools.  I have a damn site more tools than my phone does and I know how to use them too. The phone don’t!   I laid the phone a screwdriver, a pair of pliers and a crescent wrench on the counter in the bathroom for 3 days, did the damn phone fix the leaking faucet, hell no! I had to do that myself so much for a phone with tools.


I can download and play games on my phone.  What a novel idea that will give me something to do on the long drives to Texas and back. The only drawback is the screen is about the size of a postage stamp the buttons are about the size of a mosquito’s eye and we have already discussed the size of my hands.  Gee maybe I will get myself a motor home and that way I can put it on cruise control drink coffee and play darts during the trip.  More on driving and cell phones later.


I can get news and information on my phone.  People no longer have to call me and tell me the world is ending in 5 minutes, I can get the information direct via my phone.  Think I will turn of the phone and wait for the bright flash, I love a surprise.  As for what information I might need that I couldn’t possibly live without until I can turn on the radio or the TV I haven’t a clue.  I already know that (pick a political party) is screwing up the country.  I didn’t need a cell phone to discover that.  But here is some information, it don’t matter what political party they belong to it is politicians and lawyers that are screwing up the country.


I get 900 minutes a month of free air time.  Let me tell you that that ain’t FREE air time; I pay $70 a month for it. If I should happen to use more than 900 minutes in a month, they are going to charge me a princely sum per second for my transgression.    I do get free time after 7 PM and on Weekends and free long distance service in the continental U.S. that’s nice.  I also get free anytime air time to other Verizon customers.  Trouble is I only know one other Verizon customer.  I guess I could walk up to people and ask “can you hear me now?”  I also got charged a $35 activation fee.  The guy sat at his desk hit about 3 keys on the computer keyboard and my phone was activated.  Thankfully he didn’t have to do anything physical like flip a switch or I would have had to take out a second mortgage on my house.


My phone has a menu but I have been unable to find a button that says “cheeseburger and fries”.


My phone is also “Blue tooth” compatible.  I am not sure what Blue tooth is, I think it is something you get when you bite into the Blackberry. 


Well enough of the phone features it came with an instruction book that is written in both English and Spanish.  If the phone was half the size of the instruction book maybe I could figure it out without using a magnifying glass. 


Phone Etiquette:  When we are in the checkout line at Wal Mart and your phone rings, you don’t have to answer it and talk for 10 minutes while I wait for you go get your sorry butt out of the way so I can check out too.  While you may feel that you are Gods gift to the world, to the rest of the human race you are just another bump on the log.  Rest assured that the President of the United States is not calling you with his finger hovering over the red button to get your permission to end the world. Besides your phone will record the missed call and you can call boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/wife/swami/guru or who the hell ever it is back once you get to your car but before you start it and drive away.  Now hang up and get the hell out of the way.


Once again, when the phone rings you DO NOT have to answer it.  You are shopping at Target, I am 3 aisles away and I know you are shopping at Target, who ever you are talking to knows you are shopping at Target and you blabbed it do loud the whole damn world knows you are shopping at Target.  Now here is a flash from the front for you, besides you nobody in the whole damn world cares where you are or what you are doing.  Next time do a text message if you are smart enough to be able to spell a word that has more than 3 letters.  My only question is what did you do for a life before the invention of the cell phone. 


Your cell phone is no longer a status symbol.  Up until December 2006 there was only one person in the world that didn’t have a cell phone and now I got one too so you don’t have to yell into your phone at the top of your lungs just to show everybody you have one.  Being a cell phone user does not make you one of the elite anymore.  Any kid old enough to talk has one.  Dope dealers have them.  Call Girls have them. Cops and crooks have them. The Cat in the Hat has one laying on his 3 handled family credenza.  Osama Ben Laudin has one. Incidentally he must have a very good one because it works from a hole deep in the ground because the first time he sticks his head out into the fresh air, someone from Delta Force is going to pop a cap in his ass.  Some day he will get a call that goes like this:  Ring Ring, “Hello, who’s this?”  KABOOM, “Delta Force calling!”


To all the people that are standing outside in the cold talking on their phones, including some of my neighbors, you get what you pay for.  Looks like you are paying for lousy service and frostbite.  Try Verizon, their phones work inside the house.  Oh, and one other thing, why do you put one finger in your ear and yell over the phone, I can hear you over the ringing of my anvil.  Hummm maybe that’s why you have a finger in your ear and you are yelling.  Another reason to get a phone that works in the house.


To all the people who think they have to use their phones in public places like restaurants etc.  Nobody is interested in your personal conversation.  Unless you are Condi Rice, turn the damn phone off when you go into the place.  If you are that important you should have stayed at the office and used your phone to order a pizza.  I didn’t pay $25 for a steak to sit 3 tables away from you and listen to you sell real estate while I eat it.  If I have to listen to your business conversation, you should have to buy my steak. 


DRIVING WHILE TALKING ON THE PHONE:  What part of hang up and drive to you fail to understand? You can’t even walk and chew gum at the same time, what the hell makes you think you and talk on the phone and drive.   Several years ago the AMA, yes that is the American Medical Association, did a survey of people that use cell phones when they are driving and they found that even with the hands free ones, the phone users were just as impaired as drunk drivers.  While it is illegal to drive while intoxicated in all jurisdictions, you can talk on the phone and drive almost anywhere.  To make maters worse, most of the people that use cell phones and drive at the same time have to use the other hand to gesture with as they talk.  This is a test, if you are holding the phone in one hand and waving the other hand in the air, what are you using to control the vehicle.  Some jurisdictions have wised up and made it an offense to talk on the phone and drive at the same time.   However, most places still allow the terminally stupid to endanger us all.  Driving is a privilege not one of your Constitutional Rights.   You are operating a three thousand pound lethal weapon it requires your full attention.  That means that both your brain cells should be focused on the task at hand.  Not on what you plan to wear to the party tonight.  If you don’t hang up the phone, remove your head from your rectum and concentrate on your driving, the undertaker will be dressing you for your next party and six of your best friends will be carrying you to it by the handles.  That might not be a bad thing at least one more idiot would have removed themselves from the human gene pool. What terrifies me is that you have a group rate and plan on taking me with you.  The other day as I approached a traffic light that was just changing I stopped the woman in the other lane talking on her cell phone went past me and right through the red light.  There was a cop sitting at the light and I thought “there is a God and she is going to hers now.”  The cop sat there and did nothing, why? Because he was too busy talking on his cell phone to be aware of what was going on around him.  Cell phones should be equipped with motion detectors that in the event the phone was moving faster than a brisk walk would cause the phone to emit an electrical pulse that would fry the user’s brain.  On second thought that wouldn’t work because these idiots are holding the phone to their ear not carrying it in their back pocket. 


After word:  I have come up with an idea to increase the size of cell phones.  All I need to do is find some lunatic psychiatrist and pay him to write a paper that states according to his scientific research (he asked two crack heads on the corner) the cell phone is actually a phallic symbol.  In no time at all the phones will be so big that we will have to pull them around on a cart with wheels like a set of golf clubs.  I got to run now, I need to call someone on my cell phone while I drive to Target so I can tell everybody that as soon as I am done there I am going to Wal Mart.  Bye! Oh, and don’t call me I’ll call you.