This blog is officially "retired," but my other blog,
"The Lair of the Silver Fox," is still open for business!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Speed Freaks?

Somewhere between those geological eras known as the Mesozoic and the Cenozoic -- or, more specifically, before the widespread use of the "call waiting" function -- one of the most irritating things we humans had to deal with was the following scenario: 

You want or -- even worse -- need to contact a friend, relative, business associate... whatever. So you walk to the nearest phone, and...

(Excuse me? No, no, I said "you walk," not "you reach into your pocket!" Cell phones as we know them hadn't been invented yet! The only "mobile phones" to speak of were a special kind of electronic appliance that was installed in your car, and was large enough to comfortably seat your three smallest children. The kind of telephone I'm talking about using here was on a cord that was actually attached to a wall, like a cable TV line. And although so-called "telephone jacks" did exist, most telephones stayed in whatever room they had originally been installed in, and...

Can I please get back to my story?)

So, anyway... You call your friend, and get a busy signal. Remember, this example pre-dates "call waiting," so you get an annoying buzzing sound in your ear that tells you that the person you're attempting to call is already talking to someone who can't possibly be as important as you are. So you hang up.

Ten minutes later, you call back. Still busy. ("Geez, how long does this guy talk, anyway?") 

You wait another ten minutes, and call again. Still busy! ("Okay, he has to be off soon!") 

So you call again, five minutes later. Still busy?!? ("Oh, for... !")

This goes on for another fifteen or twenty minutes. Your calls are now spaced about one minute apart. Plus, to add to the aggravation, at this time in mankind's history there is no such handy feature as an automatic "re-dial" button on your phone, either.

On your penultimate try, you dial, hear the grating busy signal once again, slam the phone down, lift it up again and immediately dial your insensitive friend's number once more, even 'though you know in your heart of hearts that if he was on the phone four seconds earlier, he'll still be on it now.


The phone rings. It rings! He's finally off the phone, and can receive your all-important call!

There's no answer. There's no answer!

Why? Well, because your friend isn't home, of course.

So, you ask yourself, "How the hell could he hang up the telephone, and then vanish immediately?"
You're understandably furious. You promise yourself that the next time you see him, you're going to grab him by the front of his shirt (let's hope your friend is a "him" if you plan that approach, by the way), lift him a foot or two off the ground, and scream, "What the f**k do you do after an hour-long phone call?!? Hang up and immediately jump out the nearest window?!?"

But you don't... You do what we all do, or did. (I'll now drop my pretentious use of the present tense, describing a scene ostensibly taking place in the past!) You calmed down, and forgot.

So we never learned just how these people "did it."

You know, until now, I never appreciated "call waiting" very much. (Probably because I'm usually the one who's put "on hold" while the person I'm speaking with takes a call from someone else who, as in my example above, can't possibly be as important as I like to believe that I am. I resent it enough when a corporation puts me on hold, but I really hate it when a friend does it!) But after reading what I just wrote, I suppose I should admit that "call waiting" really does have some advantages.

But I digress.

The passage of time, coupled with minor technological innovations like "call waiting" and the "re-dial" button, have all but done away with instances like the above. Ah, but technology can be a double-edged sword! The oh-so-wonderful internet has given us something equally annoying in the place of my telephone horror story!

Here's the new variation: While you are working at your computer -- specifically, checking your e-mail -- an e-mail arrives from a friend (or relative, or... hell, you know the drill). You don't even take the time to sign on to Yahoo Messenger, or MSN Messenger, or AIM, or ICQ, etc. Nope! You just dash off a quick e-mail in response, and wait.

And wait.

And wait.

And this waiting is made even more irritating if you employ services such as MSGTAG, as I used to (a little thingamabob that e-mails you as soon as your message is actually read), because the absence of a notification such as theirs proves that your e-mail has not been read. And I don't mean "read, but not yet replied to." I mean, not even seen!

So, you ask yourself, "How the hell could he send an e-mail, and then vanish immediately?"

And you're frustrated (but at least you're not furious!), frustrated to the point that you promise yourself that the next time you see him, you're going to grab him by the front of his shirt (and let's still hope your friend is a "him" if you plan that approach), lift him a foot or two off the ground, and scream, "What the f**k do you do after you send an e-mail?!? Unplug your computer and immediately jump out the nearest window?!?"

But you don't... You do what we all do. You calm down, and forget.

So we'll never learn just how these people "do it."

I'm pretty sure this is what they were referring to in "The Lion King" when they sang "Circle of Life."
But... hey! Y'know somethin'? As John Astin (as "Buddy" on "Night Court") used to say... "I'm feeling much better now." This "RantZ" page beats the hell out of tranquilizers, any day!

Thanks for your time.

P.S. -- The preceding blog (minus edits) originally appeared at my old blog URL, on December 17, 2003 . Gotcha!


  1. Are these also the days before the answering machine was invented? I vaguely remember them, just like I vaguely remember my mother calling me from out the front door to come in for dinner and I'd hear her from 1/10 of a mile down the street. Nowadays you'd look like a loony doing that.

    Also, with the rotary phones it took so bloomin' long to make a call and if you mess up toward the end, you'd have to start all over again, fingers sore and near blisters from all the round and round rotary action. But again, the vagaries of childhood. You were already a full grown man when technology vaulted us into the 21st century. ;-)

  2. Yup, way before answering machines, voice mail, and the like. When "dialing" meant, literally, dialing. Now the word's as meaningless as when someone tells you to "roll down" your car window... even though it's electrically operated.

    And no one dares to even let their kid get 1/10th of a mile away!

    And as far as being full grown when the 21st century hit... Hell, I was an adult even before Denzel Washington, Tom Hanks, and Robin Williams were known as TV stars (not movie stars).

    By the way... Your new template's even better than caffeine for a wake-up, dude!

  3. 1) I only got a cell phone two years ago so it's still a bit of a novelty. Though it was amusing this morning when a woman asked me for the time with the comment, "I forgot my cell at home today!"...and to answer her, I pulled out my own cell. Cell phones are the new wrist watches, pass it on!

    2) I still have dialup at home. Well, theoretically I have high speed but it doesn't work on my computer right now. I figure this is just about as quaint as calling someone and getting a busy signal.

    3) I'm guilty of being slow to answer e-mails that are longer than a couple of lines. I hadn't realized people were worrying I'd jumped! (I know someone who used to use MSGtag...most annoying thing ever.)

    4) Ahhh! 2003! Geez, I'm glad this is still all accurate...wouldn't you feel silly reusing a blog about cell phones if we'd all had chips implanted in our heads in the last four years and could communicate instantaneously.

    5) Why was I putting this in a numbered list again?

    ::rolls up the window, slinks off to find more coffee...::

  4. Denzel was on a TV show? That blows my mind. I do remember Bosom Buddies and Mork & Mindy, not just through TV Land / Nick @ Nite.

    I didn't get power windows until just last year, yup I was a hand cranker on my old piece of crap car. And now I don't even have to ask the wife to roll down the window and adjust the mirror, how much of a pain was that? Ha!

    Like I said, the yellow background didn't look the same at home on the laptop at 11 pm as it does at work. This needs adjusting, still a work in progress and for some reason I can't change colors from my work pc. Urgh.

    *had a cell phone since 2002.

  5. Cake:

    1. I still don't have a cell phone. It has nothing to do with being resistant to new technology (or I'd be blogging with parchment and a quill pen). I just hate 'em.

    2. No comment needed. Well, except for "Dial-up sucks, pass it on... "

    3. I haven't used MSGtag for years, but I think it's only annoying to those who hate being pinned down. "Awww, s**t, he knows I got his email! Now I gotta answer the damned thing!"

    4. Before recycling old blogs, I re-read them and update them where necessary. It's that little bit of extra effort I lovingly offer to those I've suckered into reading old crap.

    5. I don't know why you used a numbered list, either, but it was easier to reply this way. You're so considerate.

    Redbeard: Denzel was on the incredible St. Elsewhere, which also featured Howie Mandel -- yes, that Howie Mandel -- back when Howie had a full head of curly hair.

  6. Denzel was on St. Elsewhere? Good trivia, David. Did not know that.

    Still wouldn't have watched the show, of course.

  7. I go through that shit with Shaun on messenger ALL THE TIME! It drives me batshit! And he has done it as long as I've known the prick. favorite part...he will write me, get me into some deep conversation, and just...stop...talking. A half an hour passes, then an hour, sometimes two and if I am still on, he will get back on and start up a totally new conversation like he never left the last one hanging. It is something that makes me almost homicidal at times. And that concludes Keair's Rantz....hahaha


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