I Hate Cell Phones

by pjmcbride

English: A cell phone tower in Palatine, Illin...

English: A cell phone tower in Palatine, Illinois, USA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

First, this link: http://voices.yahoo.com/what-not-calling-911-12214079.html?cat=9

It says a lot of stuff I’ve been planning to say here. One of the Three Big Posts I keep threatening you with is on the topic of cell phones, so let’s get started, since I can do this instead of working on an essay for a writing contest I supposedly want to enter. (Working on it? How about starting it?) (The deadline is the 24th, by the way.)

When cell phones started catching on, “I hate cell phones!” was commonly heard in the operations room at Dispatch. It’s seldom heard now, because cell phones have become, well, just phones, but they are still hated. Let me count the ways:

Way 1: The never-ending stream of hangups, or calls where you can tell you’re in someone’s pocket. (Does anyone ever notice a tiny voice saying, “911! I’m in your pocket! Help meeee!!”) Or the children playing on the phone. The bratty ones don’t bother me as much as the ones who are obviously too young to know better–they just got handed an old phone as a toy. And the key word for this problem is NEVER-ENDING. How many times do we call people back and say, “Your cell phone dialed 911. If you have an emergency, call back and give us your location. If not, please lock your keypad”?
Wouldn’t you think all those people we call back, and the ones we track down and tell, “Don’t give an old phone to your child unless you take out the battery first” would get the message and IT WOULD STOP? THE FLOOD OF CALLS WOULD EVENTUALLY DIE DOWN TO A TRICKLE? BUT YET WE KEEP GETTING AS MANY, OR MORE, EVERY DAY? Why is this, exactly? Let’s ask John Q. Public–oh, he says, “Locking my keypad is just one more thing to think about in my busy modern life, so you all can just answer one more useless phone call, wasting my time and yours when you have to call me back. And if I take the battery out of my old phone before giving it to my kid, it won’t flash and beep and be fun! Duh!” (I hear a ghostly voice saying, “It’s your job, deal with it.” Why is my conscience sounding like Nick all of a sudden? That’s just creepy.)

But all this is trivial (well, except for the person with a real emergency trying to get through while we’re all busy calling back cellphone hangups) compared to

Way 2: I really think cell phones have changed the public’s interactions and expectations regarding law enforcement, and not for the better. Think about it. In the old days, someone cut you off in traffic, or someone you started an altercation with in high school followed you to the mall after school, and the situation eventually blew over, and you went home and forgot about it. Now, you call 911 while you’re still terrified and/or enraged, and scream “I’M BEING FOLLOWED! GET SOMEBODY OUT HERE NOW! NO, I CAN’T STOP AND WAIT FOR THE POLICE! SOMEONE’S TRYING TO KILL ME!” driving wildly, endangering everybody, all for something that would have died down of its own accord if you didn’t have the expectation of immediate assistance. It’s become routine for people to follow hit and run drivers, thinking the Magic Cell Phone will keep them safe. I know of at least two additional accidents that have occurred that way. Likewise, “I have them blocked in so they can’t leave.” You wouldn’t have dared do that if you couldn’t yell, “I got the cops on the line!” It feeds into the mindset of “I shouldn’t have to remove myself from the dangerous situation. I got a right to be out here!” In the past, you might have realized it was unwise to exercise that right under these circumstances. But why go back in the house when you can just stand on your porch and yell into the phone?

Way 3: A lot of people watch too much TV and think a cell phone is a magic tracking device–just dial 911, and no further action is required of you. The 911 operator will be able to tell by the screaming that it’s an emergency, and they know exactly where you are, so there you go! I’ve had people who thought we know exactly where every cell phone is at all times–“I’ve lost my cell phone, can you track it for me?”

So, I counted the ways, and there are 3 of them. Hmm. OK, then, is there a solution! No! Evolution of technology? Evolution of human beings? As our training material keeps saying, You can change your attitude! OK, then–drugs? Flogging? (“How about shorter posts?” they whisper.)