Can You Hear Me Now?

18 Sep

Do you know what I’ve discovered?   I need to get a note to Steve Jobs and tell him to get his behind back down to Earth and create an anti-rudeness App for the monster he created and left behind.  I love the quote of the late George Carlin, “I don’t have pet peeves . . . I have pure psychopathic hatreds,” because it’s how I feel about cell phone abuse that disturbs my peace and draws me into dramas that are none of my business, but that I can’t help overhearing.  Not to mention when I’m on the other end of the phone conversation, and I can’t tell whether the caller is talking to me or the cashier they are transacting a sale with while pouring out their heart to me regarding some personal heartbreak.

So I wrote Steve Jobs a letter.

cell phone Bob Englehart  The Hartford Courant

Used by permission:  Bob Englehart, The Hartford Courant/Cagle Cartoons

Dear Steve.

I don’t mean to disturb your respite, but that god-awful machine you thrust upon us has become a monster, and it is increasingly robbing our relationships and depriving us of peace and rest. I know you aren’t the only cell phone inventor, but you are the one whose products we use more than any other.  I’m sure you don’t give a shit about the banalities of Earth, given the perspective you must have now, but Apple is coming out with a new iteration of your iPhone that will utilize our finger prints as a security measure, and it is Big Brother’s version of a wet dream.  The Black community is freaking out and is awash with conspiracy theories about how The Man has invented one more thing to corral us and take us out (“How do you know Jobs is really dead? He’s probably cooking up some diabolical plan in some back room somewhere to steal Black folks’ fingerprints to mess with us.  Don’t forget the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment!”)

Dude, you left us in a mess down here.  Your cell phones interrupt our lives as if they own us.  No one can tell time from a normal clock anymore because cell phones will give it to us digitally any time of the day or night.  They control our mail and reduce our writing skills to “txt msgs” of obliterated language usage; they tell us when to wake up and go to bed, and some people think they even cause cancer.  There is an App for everything except for how not to be rude while talking on one of them. We are never without these things, and it is mainly because you made us think, through your mind-melding advertising, that we couldn’t live without one of your “iThingies.”  According to Huffington Post, “sixty-three percent of smartphone users age 18-29 admit to drifting off to sleep with a cell phone, smartphone or tablet in their bed. . .” And don’t even get me started on the deaths.  I bet you’ve met quite a few “dths by txting wyl drvng” in your new location.

Texting while driving II Jeff Parker Florida Today

Used by permission: Jeff Parker Florida Today/Cagle Cartoons

But the rudeness!  Steve, I can’t handle the rudeness. Not too long ago I was in an airport and sat down in one of the last seats available at my departure gate.  I was tired, I was stressed, and all I wanted to do was chill out and wait quietly for my plane while I listened to a little John Legend.  Even with ear buds in my ears connected to one of your iPods, I couldn’t help overhear the domestic dispute of a pilot who was hitching a flight on my plane.  She was fighting with her ex-husband over his inability to step up to the plate to provide childcare while she worked, even though that had been part of their divorce agreement.  (Steve, I ask you:  Why was this drama my business?)  After interrupting the pilot to ask if she was flying my plane (“No”), I decided to take a bathroom break to get away from the domestic squabble.  As I went in search of a ladies room, some guy the size of a wall ran into me in the hallway and almost knocked me over because he was texting and didn’t see me.  Instead of being apologetic, he seemed angry that I had gotten in his way.  In the bathroom, some teenager was having a meltdown with her boyfriend via her cell phone as she sat on the toilet in the stall next to me.  Although, “You’re a pile of shit, Donnie,” seemed to fit the bathroom stall situation we were in, I still didn’t need to hear that one-sided, angst-ridden conversation while trying to relieve my bowels.  I have enough trouble in that arena just being old.  As I went to wash my hands, I overheard a Millennial standing next to me calling in sick to work.  She was wearing a T-shirt that said, “What Happens in Vegas Stays in Vegas.”  As I looked at her in the mirror with total bemusement, she shot me a classic retort as she ended her call:  “What’s your problem, bitch, don’t you have a life?  Stop listenin’ in on my biznez!”


cell phone intervention mike lester

Cartoonist Mike Lester/Cagle Cartoons

But, Stevie Baby, nothing tipped the cell phone rudeness scale as I returned to my seat (the pilot had ended her conversation with her ex-husband and was now talking to her best friend about what an asshole her ex is) like the PSA I pulled up on my cell phone that was posted on YouTube.  Check this out, and let me know if this might not be a good reason for you to secretly return and help your Apple peeps create an anti-rudeness cell phone App for future generations.  Remember, your children are growing up in this cesspool.

This is the script of an actual VM a customer left at Alamo Drafthouse in Texas after they threw her out for inappropriate cell phone use.  They are now using her VM message as a PSA to help stop cell phone abuse in their theaters: (Courtesy of MrDisgusting: “Stop Being a Victim—You Can Stop Cell Phone Use in Theaters!”)

Steve, as you read this imagine the voice of a female teenage meth head or the character of Tiffany “Pennsatucky” Doggett from “Orange is the New Black.”

Tiffany Pennsatucky Doggett

Tiffany “Pennsatucky” Doggett|Orange is the New Black


“Yeah, I was wondering if you guys actually enjoy treating your customers like a pieces of shit because that’s how I felt when I went to the Alamo Drafthouse, okaaaay!  You know what—I deent KNOW that I wasn’t supposed to text in your little crappy-ass theater.  It was too fucking dark in that place for me to find my seat.  Awright?   I was using MY PHONE as a flashlight to get to my FUCKIN’ seat.  Soooo EXCUUUUSE me for using my phone in the USA MAGNITED states of America where you are free to text in a thee-A-ther.  I was not aware I could not text in your theAther.  Awright!?  I texted in all the other theAthers in Austin, and no one ever gave a fuck about what I was doing with my fuckin’ phone, awright?  . . .you guys obviously were being assholes to me. . . and I’m sure that’s what you do. . .you rip people off—you take my money and then you throw me out.    I will never come back to your Alamo Drafthouse.   I’d rather go to a regular theAther where people are polite . . . thanks for making me feel like a customer, assholes!”


I rest my case, Steve.  Do something!

Warm Regards,


P.S.  I haven’t even gotten around to telling you how much I hate selfies.  No one is experiencing the moment anymore because everybody is too busy documenting it.  Have you seen the cell phone pictures of “look at the food I’m eating, y’all?”  Auuuuugh!  Can you imagine what history would have been like if they’d had cell phones?  Nothing would have been conquered, overturned, or gotten done.  This is all your fault, Jobs!

Cell Phone French Revolution Cardow The Ottawa Citizen

Used by permission:  Cardow, The Ottawa Citizen/Cagle Cartoons

I am discovering that people like me are going to have to take matters into our own hands and help set up laws that contain the rudeness spill-over from cell phone conversations.  In movie theaters I propose that we fight for signal jammers in our movie houses as part of a pleasant movie-going experience.  If the movie theaters refuse to comply, then let’s stay home until they do.  Airports should adopt “talking rooms” like what they’ve done for smokers, and they should never, ever approve cell phone usage while in flight.  Can you imagine?  If they do, we should all drive here and there or only take cell phone free trains.  The loss of revenue will get the airlines in shape.  Before Apple is allowed to invade our privacy even more by issuing an iPhone that is secured with our finger print (something that is unique to each of us and if stolen could wreak havoc until the day we die), why don’t the sane people amongst us demand some ground rules—a contract of civility that people have to sign before purchasing their next coveted Apple upgrade?

Yeah, right—it ain’t gonna happen!  We sold our souls to the Devil when we signed our cell phone contracts, and now we will have to live with that imprisonment:  lost time, lost concentration, lost physical connections with flesh and blood, lost courtesy, lost peace, lost, lost, lost . . . and you know the irony of it all?  When I desperately needed a cell phone to help me locate my husband on 9/11 and to let my family know I was okay after the recent earthquake in our area, every cell phone around me was inoperable because all the towers were jammed and yet any Anthony can send me a photo of his wiener any day or night.

Steve, tell me again why another iteration of your invention will make my life so much better?  Steve?  Steve?  Can you hear me now?  Don’t you dare put me on hold!

Cell phone prison Osama Hajjaj Jordan

Used by permission:  Osama Hajjaj Jordan

  “I don’t even have voice mail or answering machines anymore. I hate the phone, and I don’t want to call anybody back. If I go to hell, it will be a small closet with a telephone in it, and I will be doomed and destined for eternity to return phone calls.”—Drew Barrymore

“Well, if I called the wrong number, why did you answer the phone?”—James Thurber

“It’s getting harder and harder to differentiate between schizophrenics and people talking on a cell phone. It still brings me up short to walk by somebody who appears to be talking to themselves.”—Bob Newhart

“Recently I was directing an episode of ‘Glee’ and I lost my cell phone – and I didn’t have time to buy a new one for three weeks. Well, the first few days I was anxious as hell, suffered the delirium tremens, didn’t think I could make it through, etc. Then something kind of curious happened – I began to feel great.”—Eric Stoltz

“One look at an email can rob you of 15 minutes of focus. One call on your cell phone, one tweet, one instant message can destroy your schedule, forcing you to move meetings, or blow off really important things, like love, and friendship.”—Jacqueline Leo


Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Eleanor Tomczyk and “How the Hell Did I End Up Here?” with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.



Posted by on September 18, 2013 in Uncategorized


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24 responses to “Can You Hear Me Now?

  1. becomingcliche

    September 18, 2013 at 9:22 pm

    I could not love this post more. I HATE cellphones and what they have done to society. We don’t have them in our house, and we talk to our kids all the time about how important it is to “love the one you’re with.” I can’t stand to see people sitting with someone while talking on the phone to someone else, or worse, to see an entire family out to dinner with each of them engaged in their own device. We’re forgetting how to talk to people. And don’t get me started on personality theory and my fear that the world is coming to an end because youth are facing identity issues heretofore unknown.

    • etomczyk

      September 28, 2013 at 8:50 pm

      BC: So true, so true. I wonder if there will be a backlash from future generations about cellphone? Human beings are creatures of extreme so it just may happen. People will just disconnect and refuse to connect except face to face. Now that is a theme for a novel! 🙂

  2. composerinthegarden

    September 18, 2013 at 10:13 pm

    “I bet you’ve met quite a few “dths by txting wyl drvng” in your new location.” Oh my, hilariously funny and unbelievably sad at the same time. I must say that I love my cell phone because it is so much more than just a phone – it is my favorite camera and a way to make music with some very creative music apps. I also try to be very prudent with it in public and keep my phone calls short and quiet. I always carry it when I’m walking – a few weeks ago, I had a bad fall a few blocks from home and hurt my leg. I was able to drag myself off the road and call my husband to come and rescue me. A few days later, my car broke down and I was able to call my neighbor to come and get all the groceries out of the back and take them home to my frig while I waited for the tow truck. So, they are, like all other powerful tools, a double edged sword that we need to use with care and respect. Society just hasn’t caught up with that yet, and so we suffer from, yes, some pretty outlandishly rude behavior. Daiai Mama, we need your help!

    • etomczyk

      September 28, 2013 at 8:57 pm

      Lynn: Okay, your stories are an excellent reason we need cell phones. We just need to sign a etiquette contract when we purchase them. The cell phone companies make us sign everything else. Ha!

  3. Valentine Logar

    September 18, 2013 at 10:52 pm

    Perfectly stated! Don’t even get me started on how many people I want to punch in stores, on the street, in restuarants and other public places. How many girls and even grown azzed women I want to walk over to and explain the boy doesn’t care.

    But Steve is just laughing you know.

    • etomczyk

      September 28, 2013 at 9:08 pm

      Val, isn’t Steve laughing?! Good point. And we’re just rolling along and sucking it all up. Sigh!

  4. Hudson Howl

    September 18, 2013 at 11:27 pm

    I, Hudson Howl, do not, that’s right do not have a cell phone. If I did I doubt it would be an iPhone -they’re just to propitiatory high an mighty and possessory limiting, in essence to much like a nose ring used to lead two legged beasts of burden where it wants you to go, usually to it’s finical benefit. What I find troubling with smart phones in general is the world being condensed into a tiny screen, inevitably leading to the loss of the big picture.

    Maybe am just missing the point as to their value and if anyone wants to enlighten me by all means give it a shot but make it a good one I think am too entrenched in wise or otherwise instinctual repugnance. But, as you mentioned smart phones are part of reality, part of society; those that ‘have’ will always try to bring the ‘have nots’ into the fold. Maybe at some point I will succumb, then again I have never had a Starbucks’ either. Chalk it up to being a ‘conforming nonconformist wannabe’.

    • etomczyk

      September 28, 2013 at 8:45 pm

      Hudson. Don’t know how you can do it without a cellphone. As a woman it has become a safety feature, although I sure don’t need all these bells and whistles. Apple rolled out updates this week and I almost had a heart attack. Why does my phone need to be a flashlight, a camera, and an digital map?

      Anyway, I just come out from down under writing the final chapter of my book which is why I’ve been radio silent. I stopped by your place, but couldn’t leave a comment (sigh) after looking at your gorgeous pics an chillin’ on my favorite song of Amy Winehouse. I think the computer demons are trying to keep us apart, my brother. Take care.

      • Hudson Howl

        September 28, 2013 at 11:40 pm

        Wow, last chapter, get out!

        I went to see the ‘whoopi’ live last weekend, another great storyteller, but I think your better.

        Comments…..As of yesterday, ‘the powers that be’ assure me they are still working on the issue, that it is taking much longer then thought to free up your ip address. This is as puzzling to me as am sure it is to you.

      • etomczyk

        September 29, 2013 at 12:00 am

        Hudson, I’m so jealous. She is one of my muses! I want to be her when I grow up. Don’t stress about the IP address. I’ll still continue to read and view your posts, and I’ll leave my comments on my site. Maybe others will be curious and hop over and take a look. All the best!

  5. Matt Ingram

    September 19, 2013 at 7:18 am

    This was such a fantastic read Mrs. T!! I subscribed and I am faithfully going to be reading your posts all the time! Reading the part imagining the methheads voice from orange is the black(great show) made me laugh out loud multiple times! Thank you again, and I am looking forward to your upcoming writings!

    • etomczyk

      September 19, 2013 at 7:40 am

      Matt: So glad to see your lovely comment! Couldn’t you just hear the voice of the customer who left the VM for the Draft House? When I was transcribing it for this story, I could barely concentrate because I was laughing so hard. At first I thought they had the actress do the spot. Too much.

      So glad you signed up. Feel free to drill down through the other stories. I think you’ll like them. All the best! 🙂

  6. imagesbytdashfield

    September 19, 2013 at 7:33 am

    Rude, crude and socially acceptable is what seems to be going on nowadays. I don’t want, need, or give a rats behind about your conversation and I sure as hell do not want to hear it…especially from 10ft. away let alone next to me. Bring back phone booths – Superman needs someplace to change so he can go out and smack these loud fools upside their heads.

    • etomczyk

      September 28, 2013 at 9:23 pm

      TD. That’s the answer! The phone should not be able to work without a “cone of silence.” Like a Sci-fi movie, whenever we turn on our phones a cone should immediately emerge and cover us. Now who can we tap do invent this and where can I buy stock? 🙂

      • imagesbytdashfield

        September 28, 2013 at 9:32 pm

        Nahhhhhhhhh we invent it, patent it, rake in the royalties and spend the rest of our lives living la vida loca 🙂

  7. geanieroake

    September 19, 2013 at 3:03 pm

    My daughter lost her cell phone and didn’t know how to get in touch with her boyfriend of six months, because she’d never written his number down. Crazy! Now that I mention it, I think I’ll write a post on that. Will reference you. Thanks for a good laugh.

    • etomczyk

      September 28, 2013 at 9:25 pm

      Geanie: The story of your daughter losing her phone was both sad and funny at the same time. In fact, I think I’ll copy down my phone numbers into a notebook tomorrow. Thanks for stopping by. Come back again.

  8. talesfromthemotherland

    September 20, 2013 at 12:12 am

    DItto, ditto, ditto. I could not agree more. I’ve written about it; I kvetch all the time, it is almost unbearable. Kudos Eleanor!

    • etomczyk

      September 28, 2013 at 9:34 pm

      Thanks Dawn. It looks like we’re going to have to live with it! Take care.

  9. eurobrat

    September 21, 2013 at 9:12 pm

    I have to admit that many a long train ride to work has gone by quicker for me because I was able to eavesdrop in on someone else’s juicy phone conversation. Now, whether they wanted me to be listening in on it is a different matter…but hey, as far as I’m concerned, anything you choose to say on public transit is public property!!

    Now, I’m completely with you when it comes to selfies. I know, I know, pics or it didn’t happen…I’ll take your word for it that it happened, okay?

    • etomczyk

      September 28, 2013 at 9:46 pm

      Eurobrat: The pics of the food crack me up. Maybe I eat way to fast to stop and take a picture. 🙂

      • eurobrat

        September 29, 2013 at 8:39 pm

        My boyfriend jokes about it at every meal: “Facebook it! Facebook it!” He knows I think the food pics are kinda silly 🙂

  10. Lindy Lee

    October 16, 2013 at 12:15 am

    Cells have completely changed this country’s landscape. Nobody has anything to do with anybody any more, except to publicly share their most personal, embarrassing, life experiences out loud, while waiting in the check-out lines…


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