8.30.2008

Hands-free dialing

I was quietly reading recently when I noticed an eerie, prolonged whine.

The muffled scream seemed to come from nearby, but I couldn't place it. I looked around the room, trying to find an electronic device that might've gone kerflooey, but saw nothing amiss. I got up to look out the window, and the noise stopped. Sat back down, and it started up again.

Through shrewd detective work, it was only a matter of minutes before I determined the infernal whine was coming from my own pants.

I was sitting on my cell phone.

The chair was a little narrow for my ever-widening posterior and my phone was pressed tight against the arm. The phone was shrieking in agony. Mystery solved.

Such puzzlements have become commonplace in our high-tech age. With everybody packing a phone, we all carry the potential for confusion.

An example: I gave a ride to a friend who was in town for a business convention. I pulled up outside his hotel and he climbed into my van and the ensuing conversation went like this:

Me: "Hi! Good to see you!"

Him: "What's that supposed to mean?"

Me: "What? I said, it's good to--"

Him: "Look, that's not our fault! The bank made the mistake!"

Me (uneasy): "Have you lost your--"

Him: "I don't see why this should cost me money, when it--"

Then I spotted the wire dangling from his ear. My friend was on the phone, using one of those hands-free gizmos you see everywhere now. I hadn't noticed right away because it was hooked to the ear on the far side of his head. Fortunately, I realized what was occurring before I could push him out of the van and screech away.

Another example: About once a month, I get a call from my wife's purse. The phone will ring and I'll answer and there'll be no one there. But I can hear background noises and the clanking of keys and other pocketbook detritus, and I'll recognize that something in her purse has pressed the "speed dial" for "Home." Which makes me wonder how often she calls 911 by mistake.

This is why, when learning to use your cell phone, the first item you should read in the owner's manual is how to "lock" the keypad. I failed to do this when I was a neophyte phone user, and it took several months to cancel those calls my car's seat belt placed to Mozambique.

In fact, you should read your entire owner's manual. Most of us think we automatically know all the ins and outs of phone use, and we blithely start punching buttons without any instruction. This can lead to embarrassing situations.

On a jet recently, when it came time for passengers to turn off all electronic equipment, one woman was stumped. She confessed (loudly) that she had NEVER TURNED OFF HER PHONE BEFORE and didn't know how. She was with three giggling friends and none of them could figure it out, either.

(Fair disclosure: It appeared that these women had been drinking.)

Just as I was saying "Don't look at me," a businessman across the aisle snatched up the phone and turned it off. And we were allowed to take flight.

So listen up, friends. Avoid embarrassment. Learn to use your cell phones properly. Lock the keypads. And don't sit on them.

Because it's a sure bet your long-distance calling plan doesn't cover Mozambique.

1 comment:

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