I left my phone on charge in the main dining room and went down to the boathouse to check on some work being done. All of a sudden, here comes our cook Daniel, running excitedly down the path, my cell phone in his extended hand. And I thought to myself, Did somebody die? Is George Bush finally returning my call? The Pope? Did I finally win the Publishers Clearinghouse Sweepstakes?
“It’s Danette!” Daniel said breathlessly. (Oh, they are brother and sister, by the way.)
“Sorry Bob,” she said, laughing. “I was in the bathroom when I heard the phone ring, but I wasn’t going to answer it.”
“Good for you!” I said. “I wouldn’t have answered it either.”
Then I launched into a long tirade (wasting her minutes) about how our two foremen will stop their boats dead in the water if their cell phones ring – even though the trip they’re on may only take five minutes. By God, they HAVE to answer that phone! Miss a call? Heaven forbid! Let no call go to voice mail!
(Unlike driving a car, when you’re driving your boat you cannot hear on your cell phone very well, and the wind noise rushing past the mic will render conversation from your side useless. But we will have cars here eventually. I can only imagine how bad things will be then.)
She agreed wholeheartedly. More often than not, when I call her the phone either just rings off the hook or the call goes straight to voice-mail. Do I care? Not a bit. She always calls me back.
Remember the television series, “Star Trek?” If it had been a documentary, we would have seen an exchange like this:
SPOCK: “Bridge to Captain Kirk.”
KIRK (to himself, sighing): “Goddamit! Every time I come into the bathroom that stupid communicator goes off. What is there, a switch in here or something? Well I am not answering it. Screw ‘em, let Spock handle whatever it is.”
SPOCK (arching one eyebrow at the captain’s unresponsiveness and logically assuming that Kirk is “indisposed”: “Uhh, nevermind, Captain. It’s not important. Please get back to us when you’re finished dealing with the Klingons.”
KIRK (chuckling to himself at Spock’s lame half-human attempt at making a pun): “Boy we have good writing on this show. I hardly have to act at all! But then if that's true, why do I look like I'm working so hard at it?”
But no, “Star Trek” wasn’t real, sadly. And on t.v., actors never have to go to the bathroom. They do allow us to go to the bathroom, which is why commercial breaks were invented, of course. With all the crap on t.v., you’d think a bathroom scene would be perfectly appropriate.
And if series creator Gene Roddenberry had been from Guanaja, that scene would have gone something like this:
SPOCK: “Bridge to Captain Kirk.”
KIRK (immediately tapping the “Activate” button on his communicator): “Spock, I’m in the bathroom right now. But what is it? What can I do? How can I help? Are we being attacked?”
SPOCK: “No, Captain, please remain seated. But we do have another serious situation, something that demands your immediate attention. It appears that Lt. Uhura has a slight ear ache.”
KIRK: “Well, send her to sick-bay.”
SPOCK: “That would be logical.”
KIRK: “Yes, logical. Aren’t you supposed to be in charge when I’m not on the bridge? And anyway, didn't I tell you that I would only be gone for ten minutes?”
SPOCK: “Yes, Captain.”
SPOCK: “I just wanted to get your permission, Captain.”
KIRK: “Well, okay. Yes, you're right. Good-good. Thank you. Please keep me updated on any other events. Also, be sure to call me just as soon as the crew is done waxing the floor on the bridge.”
SPOCK: “Captain, that may be well after midnight. Even the stage hands will have gone home by then.”
KIRK: “Dammit man, I want to know!”
SPOCK: “Wilco, Captain. Spock out.”
Each “Star Trek” episode would have been three-hours long as the characters made such similar urgent communiques with each other.
And here in good old Guanaja, I still haven’t completely figured it out. I’m not sure what this obsession with making/taking calls is. Maybe it is a feeling of self-importance: “I need to be able to be gotten ahold of at any time of the day or night. And I need to be able to get ahold of anyone at any time of the day or night.”
Me on the other hand, I am so important that I do not need to make myself available to just anyone at anytime. You may not get ahold of me anytime you like. I know this sounds insufferably haughty or pompous, but enough of my time gets wasted every day just by trying to get things done here. I know how to use my voice-mail. Others can use it too. If I call you and I get your voice-mail, I assume that you’re in the bathroom. (Or maybe driving your boat and you don't want to stop...BWAAAAHAHAHAHAH...oh, I kill me.)
There are only a small handful of people whose calls I will take without fail: The Bossman (of course); my two foremen Devant and Lalo; Danette; and Roger, the head of the local power company (who’s our medevac coordinator). When I see those numbers on my Caller-ID I know it’s important. Anyone else – I’ll call them back. The trouble is, if someone calls you here, they will not stop at simply calling once and leaving it at that. They will call and call and call, every minute or two. By God, you WILL take my call! Oh, you think so, eh?
So why rehash all of this? Just more blog filler on an otherwise creatively slow day? Nope. Well, okay, maybe. But it is an endless source of amusement for me, seeing these guys and girls falling all over themselves just to answer a friggin’ phone. And I do like ranting about such stupid stuff.
Then today a friend sent me a story from CNN about a man who was severely burned in a California hotel room. The origin of the fire was traced to his
But a story like this…this one singular example…PROVES to me that cell phones are evil and must be removed from the planet at once.
Okay, I’m kidding obviously. I’ll be the first one to attest that cell phones are terrific tools, a wonderful invention. But they have their place and we must be judicious in their use.
Just don't try telling that to the people of Guanaja.