by Steve Steinbock
I know people who have given up their land-lines and now use wireless (cellular) phones exclusively. This summer, being away from home, I’ve had to rely on my cell phone for all telephone communications. I’m not a phone-junkie, but after two months, I can’t wait to have access to my home land-line again.
I suffer from cellular phone-lag. Whenever I use my wireless phone, there’s a zero-point-eight second delay between when I say something and when they hear it at the other end and vice-versa. Zero-point-eight (0.8) seconds. It may not seem like much, but it’s long enough to make every phone conversation awkward, and make me sound like I’m a space cadet on some other wavelength. Okay, that’s not fair, according to my family, I am a space cadet on another wavelength.
On top of that, in some conversations my phone only lets one person speak at a time. It’s like the old walkie-talkies with which the incoming voice cuts out as soon as you push the talk button. It’s irritating, and I know it bugs the people at the other end of the line as much as it bugs me. Last month a friend of mine said, “It’s just not right, man. This is the twenty-first century. Your phone shouldn’t do that.” He took me to a Verizon store to have it checked out. They did the old star-two-two-eight routine to update my phone, but the problem persists.
I haven’t a clue as to why I suffer phone lag. It’s probably on odd combination of the phone, the wireless service, geography, karma, and the alignment of the stars. Has anyone else out there encountered this problem or am I alone?
Next week I’ll be back home in Maine. I wonder if I’ll find phone reception too fast to handle.
I don’t use text-messaging. I understand the value of texting, and don’t object to using text as a verb, but I don’t do it. I understand the value of the practice. I have relatives who rely on text-messages for business purposes. I know people who conduct most of their social interactions by keying-in abbreviated phrases on their cell phones. I don’t. It’s like Tai Bo or cross-dressing: it’s a fulfilling practice for a lot of people, but don’t tell me I have to do it.
Last month my nephew spent a day with us. He’s thirteen, and is quite the ladies’ man. When I was thirteen, boys were supposed to carry girls’ books for them and try to get to second-base behind the backstop. Today, they text.
I noticed that my nephew was spending an inordinate amount of time pressing buttons on his phone. After about fifteen or sixteen times, I asked him how many “texts” he’d sent or received in the last hour. He didn’t know, but with a few more keystrokes, he was able to tell me with confidence that three-hundred and eighteen “texts” had been sent or received since 12:01 am. It wasn’t even four pm yet.
I decided it was time to put on my “mean uncle” hat. “New rule,” I announced. “When you are with us, you will allow the rest of us to read every incoming and outgoing message on your phone.”
My nephew scooped his jaw off his lap and said, “But they’re private!”
“So is taking a dump,” I responded. “But you don’t do it in the living room. If you need to text privately, do it in the bathroom.”
That’s it for this week’s Bandersnatch. Text me with your comments, and if I don’t text you right back, blame it on phone-lag.