Life is always an adventure. I went on an entire odyssey just to mail a few packages, and came back moved to rant just a small rant.
It isn’t very far across our little town, a matter of 3 or 4 miles. If I lived in Amsterdam I would take my stuff to the post office on my bike, but if I lived there my bike would probably be equipped with a basket and there would probably be bike lanes. So I took the truck, which is what I get to use for errands while Jim uses the Prius to commute the 35 miles to his job.
I was nearly rear-ended at a stop light by a little blonde in an SUV who was involved in looking at her email on her phone. In the next half kilometer I was also almost sideswiped by a gentleman in a very old boat car who was sailing it out of a parking lot while engaged in a lively discussion with his BluTooth. At the stop light I watched the lady next to me unconsciously creep forward as her foot left the brake pedal while she was laughing and gesturing with her cigarette while talking on her cell phone, which she had cradled in her ear. She regained consciousness of her surroundings about a second before her bumper kissed the rear end of the truck in front of her at the red light, and was able to arrest her progress. Good thing the light changed before her foot lifted again.
This cell phone stuff is getting ridiculous.
I know it is terribly convenient to be able to do absolutely everything on one small piece of electronics. And I have to admit that I am enjoying the photos my niece is posting of Europe while she is still there via the beauty of the internet. But what I am witnessing as a cell phone non-user is that suddenly I have become an inhabitant of a world where people voluntarily isolate themselves. They may be sitting at the same table with the ostensible purpose of eating breakfast together, but they might as well be in separate houses for the amount of communicating they are doing with each other and any other person in the room.
I see people who have absolutely no qualms about driving around while they are talking on their telephones. Some people have learned that holding a phone to your ear is dangerous, in fact even illegal in many places. “I have a hands free device,” they cheerfully inform me, as if this makes up for the inherent snag in telephonic communication. It doesn’t matter whether your phone is wired to the wall or imbedded in your cerebral cortex (which seems to be the next logical step in the miniaturization of telephones), if you are talking on the phone to another person, you project your “self” to where they are. That self is no longer present in the place where your body is, your mind is taking you to the other person’s room and presence. It is probably even envisioning them, the room they are in. It takes a huge act of will to take your consciousness from that conversation and focus it on the traffic around you if you happen to be driving. I’m sorry to tell you that the hands free device does not cure this ill. Your mind still wanders.
Lets not even talk about how rude it is to be having a lunch date with someone and have them answer their phone. I almost walked out of lunch with my girlfriend when she did that to me. I could not believe it, I thought we were trying to get caught up with our lives. And what was I supposed to do while she chatted with the other party? Oh, I suppose I could have posted a status on Facebook or tweeted — if I had had my cell phone with me, which I did not. Besides, adding my own rudeness to the situation was going to make it any less rude, was it?
Your mind wanders if you are talking to a person in the car with you too. That is the genesis of the laws forbidding young teenage drivers to have more than one passenger in the car with them. I’ll just add that if you are looking at the radio trying to pick a station, you are not looking at the road, nor are you if you are applying makeup or reading the newspaper. Sorry, peripheral vision doesn’t cut it.
The post office was an adventure too. I was mailing a foreign package and I didn’t know which customs declarations form I was going to need for the item I was sending, so I filled them both out. The Post Office employee found that amusing. I had lots of time in line to fill them both out. I am not the only person who missed the Christmas rush to mail packages by waiting until after the New Year. Apparently there are quite a number of us.
While I was doing that I started thinking about how amazing it is that I can go to one building and give the guy my package with an address from the other side of an ocean on it and some money, and it will be there sometime next week. Probably it will reach its destination before the other packages that I sent parcel post because they were so darned heavy, which are not leaving the continental United States.
I mean, just a few generations ago you would have had to contract with a private party travelling across the country to get your package to the coast, and then trust that person to make arrangements with a ship that was travelling across the ocean where perhaps another person might deign to take your package to the person you addressed it to. I mean, Post Office, UPS, FedEX — all those guys. It is totally amazing.
And cell phones are amazing too. I just think maybe people should hang them up once in a while and look around at the world and see what has happened while you were gazing into your little box, flicking icons by, reading emails and newsfeeds, typg cht msgs tu ur bffs, and talking to them too, of course.
It might surprise you.
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