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MY LOUSY WORLD: Call me if you dare

It’s well known the three things mankind needs to sustain life are oxygen, water, and a cell phone. The phone is an invaluable necessity, IF one learns to use it correctly. A phone in the wrong hands though is like a monkey with an M-16.

I ask those who have not yet learned how to text … WHY? Do you know how often we grit our teeth and roll our eyes when you call during a good TV show? Throw in hard-of-hearing and teeth-gritting joined by under-breath cursing. I speak for all TV addicts when I say, “Learn to text, for God’s sake!”

When I call you back and you don’t answer, check your voicemail before bothering me a second time. It’s common courtesy and saves us all time, words and headaches. You know, that IS the purpose of voicemail, right? Otherwise, you’re just tormenting us.

Continuing my phone tutorial, when recording your greeting, how about actually providing relevant info? Name and number I just dialed perhaps, rather than a monotone, Ted Koppel voice droning,“Hello. The person you have called is not home. Leave a message after the beep.” It may as well just say, “Yep, thanks.”

I prefer clues as to whether I left you a message, or some stranger who’s now making fun of me to his friends? I realize what the beep is for; tell me something I DON’T know.

Equally irritating is talking on the phone in public with your hands otherwise engaged. Your hair hides your earphones, so knock it off. Recently I was leaving Big Bear Motors and began making small talk with the showroom attendant. I was perplexed by his odd, disconnected answers and kept getting closer to his face to make sure I was hearing him right.

After awkward minutes, I realized he was making no sense because he was talking to someone not even in the room. I’m sure this mammoth guy was seconds from slapping me and yelling, “Shut the hell up; I’m on the phone!” Well, excuuuuse me for customarily looking for a phone in a hand before clamming up!

I appreciate all texters, but styles are as individual as wads of gum underneath a classroom desk. A recent exchange with Dave Beemer highlighted this style differential. We were discussing my brother Paul’s 2,100 mile bike ride across America to raise money for cancer research in his late wife Shelia’s name. He set out all alone on Good Friday, and with his competitive, accident-prone history, I’m more than a little concerned.

So Dave texts, “… I’m afraid it would be a mistake that he ride with God’s speed.” From all indications, he was saying, “If Paul’s expecting God to keep him safe, he’s barking up the wrong tree.” In reality, this college-educated teacher fails to use simple punctuation, and either doesn’t proofread or is unqualified to teach our children. I choose to think the latter, but he may be one of those who writes, sends and never looks back.

I’m a direct, OCD opposite, torturing myself with endless re-reading, placing commas where two thoughts might run together and scanning for possible misspellings. Oh yeah, I’m the mindless roofer and Dave is the so-called “educator.”

I’ve come to resent that maddening text feature that offers suggested words above the text body. It’s not as bad as spellcheck, which we’ve all experienced having words like “purity” rejected for words like “urination,” but it’s close.

When Paul upgraded phones, he passed down his smartphone. When I said I wanted to disable that suggested-word feature, he was shocked. “Oh no, you don’t want to get rid of that! It can write out your entire sentence,” he gushed like a child after watching his first slinky walk down a staircase. And he’s correct — occasionally it actually can complete your entire, intended sentence — but at what cost?

I want a committee created to conduct a study on how much time is lost constantly glancing above as opposed to time saved by letting the phone complete the word. I’m guessing they’d conclude that in the long run, much more time is lost than saved — time that could better have been spent watching Judge Judy or taking a nap (likely interrupted by the “never text; always call” clowns).

And let me tell ya: my time is valuable. Sleeping till noon, there just aren’t enough hours in the day!

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