Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Cellphone annoyances

I guess this new security system they’re planning for the subways will in theory improve the safety down there, but it’ll also allow people to use their cellphones on the platforms and inside the stations. Which strikes me as annoying. There are only a few public places where you won’t hear people yammering on to some distant friend or relative: the airplane, the subway, the store where they expressly ban it. But now we might lose one of those too. I can see how it might be helpful in an emergency, but 99% of calls will be just like the ones that happen above ground and not really life-or-death. I love the convenience of cellphones, but isn’t it nice to sometimes be unreachable, to be in transit?

Speaking of cellphones on the plane, during my flight down to Florida on Friday night, this guy who was sitting next to me – much older and should have known better – couldn’t get it through his head that when they tell you to turn off and not use your cellphones on the plane, they mean it. Throughout much of the flight, he would whip out his phone and start composing elaborate text messages to someone. I caught a few glimpses and they were not your average practical logistics messages. They were little love notes or more like relationship discussions in brief little snippets. Couldn’t it wait until he actually sees this person? (Maybe he was even flying down to see her or him, as he later mentioned to me that he’d been doing the Newark to Jacksonville flight several weekends now.)

The stewardess would walk by and he’d quickly hide the cellphone underneath his tray table. He did this like five times, like a little kid hiding from his mom. Twice the stewardess saw him texting and told him to stop. On the third time, he finally relented and put it away for good, turning his attention instead to his third mini-bottle of wine. This was the same guy who, when the stewardess asked over the PA if anyone had change for a $100, raised his hand and lifted out a pile of 20s.

Sometimes they ask if there’s a doctor on the plane and sometimes they ask if there are any high rollers.

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