Thursday, March 29, 2007

A Little Bit of Vigilante Justice

It's not that we necessarily have anything against cell phone users in general. In fact, in the last year, our family became owners of not one, but two cell phones, a 200% increase over the year before. The first was given to me by my parents, who bought a pre-paid phone to use while they are in the US, and gave it to me to use/hold on to until they come back. I think it started with about 400 minutes when my parents bought it, I don't know how much use it got before I inherited it, but it has 100 minutes left now, so I'm clearly not a heavy user.

When DH moved to a new office in his office park, we were unable to get Qwest to set up our phone service there. (Imagine, a phone company unable to do simple tasks and then provide lousy customer service! I must be the only one with a complaint for that stellar company!) DH talks to two people on the phone - me, and our sole remaining client, who almost exclusively emails but occasionally calls. I talk to him using iChat on our computers, which is free, so we decided to go the pre-paid cell phone way for DH and his one non-calling client. We figured if we can save the $50 a month the Qwest charges, we'll be ahead, plus we don't have to give our money to a company that we (I) detest so much. Naturally, the first month that he switched to the cell phone, the non-calling client all of a sudden became the frequent calling, just chatting about nothing in particular, thinking out loud on the phone kind of client. Month #1: 400 minutes used, cost: $100. Not exactly the result we were hoping for, but it hasn't made us hate all cell phone users in general.

One thing we've noticed, because we do live on Planet Earth, is that cell phone users use their phones in all sorts of situations where it is clearly not appropriate. Movies, while driving, lots of places that have probably been ranted about in every blog in America. And Asia, I'm sure. But here's the worst, in our opinion. DH has not once, but twice been in the bathroom at work where someone is sitting in a stall talking on their cell phone. What, is their cubicle too roomy to feel comfortable making a phone call? They are going for the authentic phone-booth feel? They are just so busy that they can't take 5 minutes to stop talking to their very important clients in order to relieve themselves? What exactly does the person on the other end think, did the guy get a phone call and say, "Yeah, I can take your call, I'm just sitting on the toilet, don't mind me?" No, DH tells me that at least in the first instance the potty-mouth initiated the phone call, so it must have sounded something like, "Yes, I could make you a big enough priority to call you when I am not distracted by my personal business, or that of fellow stall-users, but this is about the only time I can squeeze you in." (I'll leave it up to you to insert any appropriate potty humor here.) How insulting to be thought of when someone sits down to take a dump and the first thought is, hmmm, I'll be here for a few minutes, how about I call so-and-so?

So yesterday, DH walks into the bathroom and hears a man in the only stall mumbling to himself. Of course, he's not mumbling to himself, he's talking quietly on his cell phone. As DH goes about his business, he thinks about how it must sound to the person on the other end - is the bathroom goer trying to hide the fact that he is multi-tasking? DH ponders this as he washes his hands, and when he goes to dry them, remembers that there are no paper towels in there, just an air dry machine. A really, really loud air dry machine. So he walks over, hits the button, and immediately the cell phone guy starts yelling to be heard over the noise. It's a bathroom, after all, which is nice and echo-y, plus the machine operates at about the decibel level of a jet plane taking off. DH finishes drying his hands, the machine stops after its predetermined amount of time (30 seconds), and the guy's voice drops back down to normal. DH thinks, how will he ever know how wet my hands were? And hits the button again, just for fun and walks out. The guy starts yelling again. DH, I believe, was feeling rather pleased with himself, because really, who in their right minds thinks the bathroom is the best place for a private phone call? DH walks back to his office, grabs his bag and heads out to get a haircut on his lunch hour. As he passes the bathroom, he can hear the guy - he's still in there talking. In what I can only call a moment of juvenile foolishness, which DH regards as vigilante justice, as he passes the bathroom, he pokes his head in, hits the air dry button one more time, and leaves to the sound of the guy, yelling once more.

I'm not sure what my opinion is on the whole episode, in general I'm against pranks of any sort. However clever they seem to be at the time, when you end up getting in trouble and have to explain to someone why you did whatever stupid thing it was, it certainly stops being worth it. But in this case, I find the whole thing amusing. Especially since if the guy ever found someone to complain to ("Someone keeps drying their hands while I'm trying to talk on the phone!!") he will look like the twit, and rightly so. Could this guy have learned a lesson from all of this? I guess DH will have to be our on-the-spot cell phone etiquette crime fighter and keep us all posted.


Ryan said...

Yes, it's me, your on-the-spot cell phone etiquette crime fighter! Remember kids cell phones and toilets just don't mix! If you hear someone who uses a cell phone while sitting on the toilet, run and tell a grown up. Then make sure that you and the grown up poke fun at, harass, and frustrate the "Cell Phone Crapper" to no end!

It's important to use readily available and easy to use tactics to reveal the Cell Phone Crapper's hidden location to the person they are talking to on the phone. Remember to:

*Flush a toilet frequently
*Run the water loudly in the sink
*Repeatedly press the button on the hand dryer
*On your way out of the bathroom, turn the lights out! (Light switch option not available in all public restroom locations).

And remember, if you personally know a Cell Phone Crapper, never, EVER, borrow their phone to make a phone call because you KNOW where that cell phone has been!

Drake Steel said...

I was reading a book once about man/woman relationship stuff. One part was about how comfortable women are about going to the bathroom at the same time. The book said that the bathroom designers are making women's stalls larger because they (women) hang out together as they relieve themselves... I recall as a child seeing the odd sofa in the woman's room and wondering what the heck that was doing there. Anyway the opposite of this chummyness (and the aforsaid chummyness appears to be real as the 3 women in our office said that within reason they are comfortable gabbing in the toilet) are men's attitude about the bathroom. When guys are in the bathroom they don't talk. They barely acknowledge each other. We/I use whatever facility is the furthest away from the other guys. Those are the facts of guydom.

Well, in this book they told a episode of a guy who was on the New Jersey Turnpike and stopped at a rest area. He was in a stall and heard the guy next to him ask how he was doing. He at first ignored the guy, then the guy asked again so he mumbled something like... "doing fine." Then the guy asked where he was going, so he mumbled something back. Then the guy next to him asked him to repeat himself. So he spoke up. At which point the guy next to him said, "say that again some idiot is talking to me!" The guy was on a cell phone!

Oh and Ryan, I can totally see you walking by the bathroom and hitting the hand dryer button.