Thursday, July 31, 2008

Recovering from Burnout

After writing twenty columns for in May, I was completely spent. I had pretty much exhausted everything I wanted to say for at least a couple of months. So now, on the cusp of August, I am feeling a surge of renewed vigor. Before I begin with new posts, I want to post one of my favorites from May, which seems to become more relevant with each passing day:

Trapped in Cell Hell

I tremble as I begin to write this - not out of excitement, but out of rage - because even though the topic has been discussed to the point of exhaustion, the problem just seems to be getting exponentially worse. No, I am not talking about bedbugs (although they're pretty horrendous) or the Bush administration, but the plague that threatens to destroy us all as a civilization.

I'm talking about cell phones and the way they are used by - or inflicted upon, depending on your point of view - society at large.

Let's cut to the chase, shall we? Most people use cell phones in an extremely self absorbed, what-do-I-care-I'm-never-going-to-see-your-face-ever-again kind of way. It's all about THEM, without the slightest regard for anyone nearby. It's as if they're in a narcissistic bubble in which only their whims, desires and concerns exist. The level of ego displayed by cell phone braggarts (both male and female) continues to grow and astound.

Witness this simple case, that happened to me last week. My wife and I were in an ice cream store when a woman sat down - I am not exaggerating here - less than three feet away. I could reach over and grab the salt from her table with the slightest of efforts. She then proceeded to call a friend and for more than twenty minutes give her (my God, the poor friend) explicit details of her ovaries, mammograms, breast tenderness, you name it - all in a clear, ringing voice that would have made Barack Obama say "Wow, nice projection!" My wife and I stared at each other in shock, as this 40-something woman continued to spew her shockingly boring yet intimate conversation to any one who cared to listen, as if the gelato shop was her living room instead of a public place.

Cell phone morons come in all shapes and sizes. There's the Blowhard, the Wall Street business guy who shouts in your ear about deals, money and how crucial he is to the company while he's sitting behind you on the train. There's the Nervous Nellie, the senior citizen who needs to telephone her son every twenty minutes to give him updates about where she is ("We just passed Yaphank" - great, thanks for sharing!). There's the OhmyGod girl ("OhmyGod, you'll never believe what Chanel said last night!"), who will talk nonstop - listening simply isn't an option - a mere two seats away the entire three-hour bus trip.

I could rant all day, but you know what I'm talking about - you deal with it every day, too. So let's start with this basic, painful admission - most peoples lives (and believe me, I include myself in this one hundred percent) are SIMPLY NOT INTERESTING. AT ALL.
So the next time you pick up your beloved cell phone to make a quick (or not so quick) call, try these simple things: cover your mouth with your hand (as if you were telling a secret) and talk in a normal tone of voice. If the person on the phone can't hear you, simply repeat it again,only SLIGHTLY louder. Do not, as the rock band KISS would have you do, shout it out loud. If you are in an enclosed space with other people, say "I can't talk, I'll call you back." I guarantee you, the world will not end abruptly in a fiery cataclysm. And if you're in a coffee shop full of strangers and you get an important call, STEP OUTSIDE.

If we all followed those simple steps, life would be so much nicer, and maybe - just maybe - people would be just a teeny, tiny bit less angry, and wouldn't have to vent in long winded, repetitive blog posts.

I'd love to talk more, but I gotta go do a few errands, pay some bills and beat the crap out of someone. Later!