Saturday, November 19, 2005

The Cellular Telephone and High-tech Cretins

Yesterday, while looking through Barnes and Noble, I heard something we all too often hear--one side of a conversation moving around a public place. Yes, it was the cellular telephone: the bane of contemporary existence. It would not be a bane if people were civil and tasteful, but typically they are not. While trying to locate the new live Cream recording (the first in 38 years), I heard the stuttering, mumbling sounds come near me. Again, I was haunted by unwanted words... (The man could not complete a sentence in one try--or even three. He had a vocabulary of at most ten words, all of which were clustered in various cliches. It was pathetic just on that level. I wouldn't mind overhearing the polysyllabic pundit William F. Buckley speaking on a cell phone, but he probably won't be doing that in public.)

I hoped against hope that the incoherent acoustic blasts would move on and way from me. But they didn't. So I moved into the books section--only to be haunted by the cell yell still. At least three times this roving rude-machine intersected me in that haunted place. I learned (against my will) that Shawna and her spouse were "a piece of work" and that Shawna was generally screwed up, as did other helpless listeners who were attempting to find music or books or even read books. (How often is it possible to read books in public any more?)

What can be done about these high-tech cretins? Perhaps someone--even I--should have simply said, "Excuse me. Your conversation is bothering people. Please stop." Of course, that could have triggered fisticuffs and/or a law suit. Calling down "fire from heaven" would have been less embarrassing (since I could pray it under my breath), but probably less effective--given God's mercy and all.

Does anyone have any suggestions?


Ann said...

I've found it handy to have my own cellphone nearby and when I start to hear details about "Shawna and her whatever being a piece of work", I call (or pretend to call) someone and tell my friend (rather loudly) that I'm eavesdropping on the most fascinating cellphone conversation here at B& N (be sure to drop in a few details ). You'll soon discover that the offending high-tech cretin will either get very quiet and end his conversation or he will go away believing you to be an incredible busybody. Either way you have taught him/her a valuable lesson.

BTW,What a marvelous complement you left on my blog! If perhaps my comments sound familiar it is because I have read both of your wife's books several years ago and was touched by her message.
"Women Caught In Conflict" was one that influenced my becoming a Biblical Egalitarian (from a Traditionalist). "Good News" is one of the most cogent arguments promoting the full inclusion of women in ministry.

nancy said...

Perhaps you gently tap the man on the shoulder and whisper "Sounds like Shawna has a hard life - I'll be praying for her...How can I pray for you?"

... you could get some interesting responses..

Josh S. said...

The best but probably hardest thing to do is to ask them to stop. It's like the cretins in my neighborhood who like to sit in my street while their music shakes my windows. Eventually I get so frustrated that I go out and tell them to turn it down. Surprisingly, they do it. And they don't come back as often either. It seems like people just don’t think about anyone else around them, and when you point it out to them, there might be enough embarrassment to have them think about it. Also, if the chance is there, it might be good to point out that they are being uncivil. That’s not something they probably hear too often, but it’s true!

Cheerful Curmudgeon said...

Ann & Nancy: Ann, I just loved your practical approach to shed light on the situation. Nancy, you are quite the evangelist. It seems as though I can't wait to try Ann's approach but Nancy's approach might penetrate the situation more applicably. That is if we believe that prayer works and I certainly do! Thanks!

Ray said...

I'll begin working on my CellPhone-B-Gone, right after I finish my SmoothJazz-B-Gone.

Douglas Groothuis, Ph.D. said...

Hello to all responders:

These are all salutary responses. However, I cannot use Ann's response since I don't own a cell phone. I could pretend to have one by speaking into my hand, though. It might work.

Josh S. said...

I could pretend to have one by speaking into my hand, though. It might work.

Especially if you made sure they were looking at you when you do it! I admit that I am often tempted to do something like that (or worse, depending how annoyed I am). It is easiest to just make fun of someone, but it is probably much better to just tell them why they are wrong!

Douglas Groothuis, Ph.D. said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
anoninva said...

This gets on my last good nerve! I don't even have a cell phone, so I really cannot understand the rationale of having such personal conversations in public places. I was on a plane recently and before we took off the woman sitting right next to me was having a cell phone conversation that I really did not want to hear about a lascivious man and his antics. There was no place to go to get away; we were getting ready to taxi down the runway. I did not know what to say because for the next 2 hours I had to sit next to her. Why start off the trip with a rebuke? Or even a kind "do you mind?" I am not sure what one should do or say!