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Out of Our Minds
Wednesday, December 15, 2004 2:25 PM
Every Action Creates...
Kevin Salwen on Travel

cell_phone_Siemens.jpgThe hot talk in the airline industry these days is the coming of cell phones. Two decades after the introduction of those uber-expensive (and rarely used) Airfones, personal mobile phone use is on the table at the FCC. (The agency today already approved a plan to allow Internet service inflight by 2006.) I can't tell you how much I pray that the agency keeps the ban on cell phones intact. This isn't a safety issue for me, but the problem of yakkers holding that meeting in supersized 'I run the world' voices or the blabby 'catch up call' voice.

But I must admit, a piece of me is hoping the FCC allows the cell parade to begin. First of all, I, like most people, love using my mobile phone -- it's everyone else's calls I can't stand.

Beyond that though, I'm eager for the ban to end because of this two-step process: 1) People will make annoying calls. 2) Some brilliant savior will invent a product that keeps the sound out. (I'm talking beyond Bose headphones, which kind of work but not quite.) And maybe that genius' invention will be transferable to everywhere else I want to be cellphone-free. Let my cocooning begin.


martin - 12/16/2004 4:55:13 PM
JOY! Now we get to hear about how work orders are changed, shipments have been cancelled, emails (as yet unread) have now been sent and that you sould look for them and how a person is not feeling that well as they put in a 14 hour day the day before and other numbing non-essential business babble at 30,000 ft.

I swear I'm going to start driving instead of flying.
Corey Henderson - 12/16/2004 10:36:24 AM

You won't hear a thing. Not even the pilot telling you to put your head between your legs.
Mindwalker - 12/16/2004 9:44:37 AM
A design company here in Chicago has created the Society for HandHeld Hushing (SHHH). I've included a link directly to a PDF which you can print out and hand the other person a card with the details of their conversation.

Has anyone actually printed these out and used them? I'm *really* tempted to do so, just to see the reaction.


My problem is that while I usually get annoyed when I hear other conversations, my ears also perk up. I'm a writer and storyteller, so I just naturally tune into people's stories. When the person starts talking about something deeply personal, though (like a disease), I back off.
Kate - 12/16/2004 7:23:52 AM
I think that the arrival of cell phones would be the most unpleasant thing to hit the skies since dessicated pretzels.
If a cell yeller is next to me on the ground, I can at least walk away. The only option on a plane is to wander the aisles, which now gets you suspicious looks and often the order to return to your seat.

I fear the extended version of what already happens upon touchdown: the group voiceover, where everyone whips out their phones to narrate the same story: ' I'm here in Chicago...on the plane...just landed...flight was packed.' Imagine this continuing for hours: 'We're over Charlotte...yeah, still in the plane...weather's rough...had to fly coach.'

Should this happen, I might not be able to hold myself back from calling out additions to these soundtracks: 'Sir, the doctor will see you now.' 'Last call!' or 'Please, keep your clothes on or we'll have to ask you to leave.'
anita - 12/15/2004 4:30:56 PM
I'm not normally a grumpy person, but cell phones push my grump button in a big way -- listening to someone chat about their hemorrhoids while standing in a movie line is more intimacy than I want with a stranger.

But what makes me far grumpier are hummers -- people who mindlessly hum to Muzak or disco in grocery stores, coffee shops, elevators ...and airplanes. I seem to attract hummers the way cat-haters attract cats.

So, given the unpleasant choice of hummers vs. hemorrhoid confessions, bring on the cell phones.
Alex - 12/15/2004 4:06:10 PM
That is an excellent picture.
Kent - 12/15/2004 4:01:12 PM
The intrusion of people's private telephone calls into public spaces is one of the most annoying trends of the past few years. You can't even buy groceries these days without having to listen to one side of an inane conservation. (I wouldn't mind if the subject was something relevant to being at the supermarket, like 'Do we need milk?')

Air travel, for all its stressful aspects, has been one of the few refuges from the blab, blab, blab invasion. Let's keep it that way. (Note: WSJ online poll is running overwhelmingly against allowing cell phone use during flight.)
Jory Des Jardins - 12/15/2004 3:04:14 PM
This echoes the thought I had when I heard about this. I am one of those annoying yackers--yes, I admit it, who will be the first one to glare at anyone breaking my own precious concentration by chatting on the cell phone in public.

But for me the plane is sacred ground. I felt a little sad when they allowed laptops to be used on board, and I no longer had an excuse to get nothing done but read a good book en route to a business meeting. Now I'll be expected to still be present for those ever-annoying team conference calls. Now I actually hope for crying babies to be in the next seat; they'll force me to have to apologize to my team profusely and let me jump off the call.


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