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.
Used by permission: Bob Englehart, The Hartford Courant/Cagle Cartoons
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.
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!”
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|Orange is the New Black wiki.com
VOICEMAIL LEFT BY DISGRUNTLED CUSTOMER TO ALAMO DRAFT HOUSE
“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!
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!
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!
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
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