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Hold on, I have a call coming in

 article about Toilet phone
2006-03-16 06:12:34

I walked into a men's restroom during a conference recently and
observed a guy standing at the urinal with his arm raised and wrapped
over his head to hold his cell phone up to his ear.

proud moment as being his brother of sorts did not occur to me. Now we
have all observed people talking on the phone or texting on their
Blackberry obsessively and wondered what is up with them? The scene of
this lavatorial contortionism struck me to think to myself. ENOUGH
ALREADY!! While observing our urinal hero, I had to fight the urge not
to activate all of the urinals to flush in unison with several waves of
my hand. I paused with the realization that this self-important clod
may beat me with his phone while continuing his conversation! If that
would happen how much do you want to bet that no matter what type of
hulkian rage this guy was engulfed in, he would stop if thankfully he
heard a call waiting signal and he would be compelled to stop the
beating and pick up!!

a world of constant Access, omnipresent Availability, nearly preemptive
Response, and Perpetually, I think we have truly lost our senses. If we
revisit our egestive actor one more time, I can only think of a couple
of scenarios that would partially justify calling someone while "going"
in a public urinal. The first is he is a neurosurgeon with an enlarged
prostate, was paged, one of his patients was taken to surgery, and he
was remotely directing a colleague to conduct brain surgery. The second
might be he has an enlarged prostate, works for the bomb squad, the
timer is ticking down and he was talking someone through a detonation
intervention. Now here's the frightening truth, even if he was in
either scenario and regardless of ramifications what would our hero do
out of habit if he received an incoming call in the midst of his

I see two viable eventualities, either he focuses on the single task at hand and ignores the distraction of the incoming call (unlikely) or he blows a blood vessel in his brain with the guilty prospect that he missed a call!

this is an extreme example, but I submit for your consideration though
we agree that it is extreme, is it really unrealistic? Or is it a
slightly inflated reflection of god forbid who we have become? How did
we get here? First, we had the answering machine at home and voice mail
at work. This was a convenient advancement to manage our communications
to accept messages when we were UNAVAILABLE. That seems reasonable.

Then we needed (wanted)
to access our messages remotely. I guess the idea of being out of the
office wasn't a good enough reason to return your call when we
returned. No, we needed to be able to call our answering machine or
voice mail to retrieve our messages remotely so we could generate
another call list and get back to our callers quicker!

email, the Internet and cell phones came along. More tools that we will
learn to mismanage and we have! Perhaps our goal is to reduce and to
ultimately eliminate one freaking free unoccupied moment! Sorry, I got
carried away. Hold on I have a call coming in…

where was I? Oh yes, isn't it ironic that the more devices with power
buttons that we possess render us more and more powerless! Just thought
of that one, and no it isn't perfectly thought out but I had an email
that dinged by Inbox and I had to read it, so cut me some slack!

only time that we turn off our electronic crutches are when the pilot
orders us to so that to prevent us from becoming a permanent out of
office memo. Or when the hospital's ill-conceived policy of no cell
phones are more concerned about keeping Aunt Bessie's respirator
working versus getting the call to indicate that someone was responding
to an email that they cannot make a conference call, but that you can
text them on their phone later with a call summary!

How about the traditional practice of hold my calls? By the way, the next time you need to focus on an important task, concentrate
on a meaningful conversation, or here's one, listen to your kid, turn
your phone off or let it ring! Aren't these the exact reasons why we
have voice mail in the first place?

Ok, so now that we can confirm that we are all so much more "productive and organized"
with our digital friends, what is the cost? In other words, what is the
cost of constantly being contactobsessed (new word), thanks I like it
too? How about the present? Could the present and your primary audience
be the collateral damage of our compulsion to be "on" to all? I think
so. How does the guy on the phone feel when he hears the melodic echoes
of the toilets flushing while discussing decorum, for instance? Here's some irony, I bet he feels P—ssed off! Wouldn't you!

where does our obsession end? Ring….Hello, no I cannot be on that call
because I am on a gurney and headed to surgery. The procedure should
only take three hours. They are doing a new procedure called a clue
reclamation. Apparently, there is a very long waiting list for this
procedure. I'll call you back when I am in recovery or before!

So if we revisit our premise that we live unsettled by this world of constant Access, omnipresent Availability, nearly preemptive Response, and Perpetually. Do you think that this constant wave of communication is personally exhausting, if not aging?

constant Access

omnipresent Availability

nearly preemptive Response

and Perpetually


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