Better Living Through Technology

My phones have been screwed for a week. I’m actually starting to enjoy it, even though it obliges me to conduct a daily work-around of checking the Verizon voicemail box to see if anyone’s called the landline. Some days no one leaves a message; most people want to text or e-mail, which I don’t mind. All my clients who might need to connect quickly have been advised. I hate the sound of that damn thing ringing, which it seems to do all day long. As a semi-blind lady I long ago adopted speaking Caller ID, so I don’t have to run over to the phone and squint at a teensy little screen that tells me I am being called by Organizing For America or someone’s campaign committee or the Fraternal Order Of Police, or any one of a hundred charities, causes and scams whose phone-bank representatives will, if I am so foolish as to pick up, address me by my first name with obnoxious familiarity and ask how I am today before trying to shake me down. Now I just get to hear a robot voice tell me these things.

Robot voices are big these days. In fact the only calls I have gotten in two days, on either cell or landline mailbox, are from the Verizon Robot Lady who advises me primly that “you recently called about trouble with your phone line. We believe the problem has been resolved. If your problem is resolved, press 1. If you are still encountering problems, press 2.” Then the mobile phone screen goes blank and I can’t get it back in time to press 2 and the robot lady hangs up on me and calls again later. I am mightily fed up with the sound of her voice and would like to sic Barney the Dinosaur on her, if I could find either one of them.

Every day or so someone tells me that they gave up their land line years ago and don’t miss it yada yada. I get the point, but this number is on business cards that have been floating around for years, and sometimes after a twenty-year gap people have found that card and remembered the great massages they got at Spa Lady back in the day and they call up. Plus, cell phones are no good for talking. My stepmother, Vacuums-With-Snakes, likes to call and chat every so often and I can guarantee you the call will drop twice before we are done because she only uses a cell.

When my dear friend Dorothy died — she had unexpectedly listed me as next of kin — I was left standing in my office with one client leaving and one arriving, waiting for a Fairfax County cop who had found the body in her condo to work his way out of a cellular dead spot so he could utter a complete sentence before being cut off.  That is crap. (I always thought that when people died and the police needed to notify you they actually sent an officer in person, but I guess this is better living through technology. At least they could use a real phone.)

Anyway the first time we could settle on a service call is Saturday, so I can count on a few more days of luscious silence around the house. The text message noise is a polite little triple plink, down a perfect fifth and back up. I can live with this.


Asshole Of The Week

It is the Story Of Modern Life.

The parking lot for my gym (and an annoying couple of other businesses, like a Laser Tag facility and a little-girlie-girls’ ballet studio) has two broad double aprons, each big enough for a couple of large SUVs to cross paths. Which often happens. Yesterday, though, a medium-sized white station wagon was situated athwart most of the curb cut just at the time I needed to leave — angled sharply left, so that no one could pass in either direction, and blinking.

Well, waiting for someone to make a left turn isn’t a fate worse than death, even if you’re running a bit behind the clock. I sat there patiently. Traffic from the left followed traffic from the right. There were a couple of brief openings, but I hate people who honk — I don’t have quick reflexes myself and I never take chances on the road. Time ticked by. The street emptied out. The car didn’t move.

By now there was another vehicle behind me. Severally, we backed up enough to regroup at the other apron and bugger off down the road. The white car was still there as we passed — the driver abstractedly texting away.

There is never a water balloon handy when you need one.

Stand By to Call 911

My gym is in the back of a huge shopping center which could just about declare itself a sovereign Southeast Asian nation. I mean there are foo dogs at the front entrance, with a big red pagoda-like structure arched over them. I don’t know if the owners did this for good Feng Shui, though I do know that the front entry to your home, or business, is called the structure’s Mouth of Ch’i. It follows that we at the gym are up the asshole of Ch’i — right to the sharp double turn you have to take to get into the parking lot.

I was navigating this asphalt sigmoid flexure today, cautiously as i always do because the corner is tree-bordered and goddam blind. The woman flipping open her cell phone was wandering toward me in a dreamy way. Halfway between the two bends, she must have connected because she came to a halt, yacking away, not even bothering to look at me or at the other car that was leaving the gym lot. As I turned to park I scoped her in my rearview, pacing aimlessly around a point about a yard out into the path of whomever was going to turn that corner next.

Don’t even bother telling me that cell phones do something to your brain. The evidence is before us every day.