I make a living as a funny speaker.
This means I travel. Which means I use my cell phone. Which means I get to see other people use theirs. America, actually the World, needs a lesson in cell phone civility.
I truly am a huge cell phone user. I use my smart phone for texting, emailing, making reservations, driving directions, listening to music, and the other day actually made a call with it. My cell phone has a hard drive big enough for 4000 songs…or one voice mail from my mother. I’m NOT anti-cell phone. I’m anti-cell phone rudeness. It’s getting out of hand and I think the reason is this whole self-absorption thing. People love to hear themselves talk.
But I don’t. I don’t want to hear you argue with your wife because you think she’s messing around with Ralph (actually heard this in the San Antonio airport). I don’t want to know that your underling better get his sales numbers up or you’re going to personally kick him in the a#% (Denver airport). And I surely don’t want to know the color of your baby’s vomit (my grocery store). These are PUBLIC places. That is PERSONAL information. This has not been helped with the advent of Bluetooth earpiece devices. A device cleverly crafted to put the audio output in the inner depth of your ear so you can clearly hear, but placing the microphone nowhere near your mouth so you feel like shouting. It would work perfectly if your mouth was on the side of your head, but not many people are built that way. And here’s a tip for you if you’re a Bluetooth person: while you’re talking on that thing do not make eye contact with someone. I know this sounds odd, but generally if your lips are moving and you look at me, I assume you’re talking to me. Crazy, huh?
But I may have seen the most egregious violation of cell phone civility recently when a lady waiting to board a plane decided to talk to her birds back home. For real. One of them was apparently homesick for her, or it could’ve been the Bird Flu. Those ailments are very hard to distinguish I’m told.
You can see where this is going. She put her phone on “speaker” and then began squawking and cooing and shrieking to her aviary friends back at the house. I wish this were a lie. I’ve got a hundred witnesses that say it’s not. Apparently these noises require animation to get them right, because she was gyrating in her chair like someone had rubbed Icy Hot in her underpants (I’ve got personal experience from gym class on that one). Everybody in the boarding area thought we were being punk’d. I couldn’t identify what type of birds she was communicating with or what she was saying, but I think it had something to do with the neighbor’s cat. Not sure on that one, all I know is that it was annoying and hilarious at the same time, a very difficult combination to achieve. It was also something I wish I would have taped on my camera phone because I could’ve won money on “America’s Funniest Videos”. On a side note, that show should be renamed “America’s Stupidest People”. As Charles Barkley says, “every time I think people can’t get stupider, they get more stupid”.
So what do you do when that knothead’s cell phone goes off during the wrong time, like in the middle of a speech or when you’re standing at the urinal (that guy better have a “hands free” device). Here’s a suggestion from a funny speaker: join in. That’s right, make it a conference call. Get loud, argue, make suggestions, and invite others to join in as well.
But you better be bigger or faster than the guy taking the call.
Mark Mayfield, A Funny Speaker with a Serious Message