Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Bag Phone, Brick Phone & Bluetooth Couth

Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1)
/kuθ/ Pronunciation Key - [kooth]
1. showing or having good manners or sophistication; smooth:
2. good manners; refinement: to be lacking in couth.

When I was a kid, rich people had car phones. You could pick em' out because of the little squiggly antenna on the back window. But sometime in the latter 1980s, the car phone went mobile. It came in the form of a faux-leather fanny pack attached to a black handset that looked like you got it from the bedside table at the Motel 6:...it was the Bag Phone. It was big; it was bulky; but most of all, it was freakish! I mean, fanny packs were never cool anywhere were they? In fact, to wear a fanny pack, the style gods dictated you also have on Sansabelt slacks, white tube socks and penny loafers. Still, those willing to pay 1-dollar-and-68-cents-per-minute were abundant. I'd see them coming through the line at the grocery store I worked in. It seemed strange to me however, that they were always talking on the thing as they were checking out...as if to say to the rest of us, "I got this really cool fanny packed bag phone, and I'm gonna yell at my mom through it while you put my canned ham and Hot Rod Magazine in paper AND plastic, dude!"
In those days, it was kind of embarrassing for me to overhear someone's private conversation in a crowded, public place. It freaked me out. Either way, people who owned the bag phone were rude, yet cool in their own minds.
A couple years later came the Brick Phone. This one bothered me too; mainly because it was a very strange shade of off-white-grayish, and because when someone had it up to their face, it looked as if they were calling in an air strike!
But the bag and brick phones have nothing on today's technology when it comes to "freakin' me out." Nowadays, it's the blue tooth earpiece that's making me nuts. In this case, the device in and of itself is pretty neat. But the people that use them have nearly drawn me to blows.
Like today after work: I stopped over at Starbucks to grab a grande' with whipped latte... As I neared the counter to order, a guy sitting in the corner across the way looked right at me and annoyingly said, "Did you want me to bring you some damn coffee too?"
He was literally on the other side of the shop, but his voice was loud, like he was calling out to me.
I paused, and said, "Are you talkin' ta me?" ...in my best Chicago accent.
He kept staring in my direction and once again said, "Look, do you want a freakin' coffee or not?!"
I began to walk over to him, at which point he leaned his head down and mumbled, "I gotta go," and then reached to his ear and and touched his roach-sized bluetooth headset. Suddenly, as if coming out of a hypnotic state, he looked up and me and kindly said, "Oh, hello, can I help you with something?"
I immediately figured out that none of his conversation was directed at me ... it was just his lack of BlueTooth Couth that caused him to nearly throw me into a rage.

It seems that people who use these bluetooth sets have 3 things in common:

1) the thing is always in their ear...all day long at work, at home,
weddings, funeral, barmitzvahs; everywhere, all the time, and because of
this, they are always talking on it openly.
2) since the device does not actually stretch all the way to the mouth, people feel they need to speak loudly for it to pick up the sound.
3)because it requires no hands, people tend to keep their head
up, indicating interaction with everyone around them. With a traditional cell phone, it is a natural reaction to dip your head a bit as you speak into it...not so with
blue tooth. In addition, when people use a bluetooth, they go into a trance-like state where even though they are looking right at you, they do not see you until the call is terminated.

You might think that I am just a little overly sensitive...
A few weeks ago, I was taking the train downtown for a meeting. This particular morning, it was standing room only, and even the aisles were shoulder-to-shoulder. About 10 minutes into the trip, a short guy (yep, shorter than me) wearing a suit next to me loudly declares, "I'm gonne be late ta da freekin' meeting, so just wait on me!"
I, too, was wearing a suit and attending a meeting, so I looked at him and realized that he was looking right at me.
"Are you going to the AT&T telecom meeting also?" I asked.
His gaze remained fixed on me and he said again (a little louder this time) "Look Pal, Um on my way over-by-dare and will get ta da place double quick, ya got it?"
"Yeah sure buddy," I said. "What company do you represent?"
Once again came that familiar "awakening" as he came out of his bluetooth trance, looked in my eyes, scoffed, and pushed his way through the crowd to the other end of the train car.
Needless to say, I was completely embarrassed when I saw that silver thing sticking out of his ear as he turned the other way. The whole time he had been speaking on it and I just assumed that since he was looking directly at me; and going to a meeting; and wearing a suit; on the same train as me; that he must be talking to me?!?!?
Publice Service Announcement: If you have a bluetooth headset ... get some bluetooth couth before you take it out and use it!

Am I the only one with this issue? please help...
Disclaimer: Chicago accents represented in this story are the responsibility of the reader and his or her own preconceived notions of what one actually sounds like. If you're not sure, go rent a copy of the Blues Brothers, and then come back and read this article again.


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