Clicking on banner ads enables JWR to constantly improve
Jewish World Review May 1, 2002 / 19 Iyar, 5762

Lenore Skenazy

JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
James Glassman
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
Michelle Malkin
Jackie Mason
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Sam Schulman
Amity Shlaes
Roger Simon
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports

Driven nuts by drive-time cell phoners | Oh, hey, I'm pulling into the driveway. Great talking to you!" Click.

Hey, great talking to you, too! How super fun to hear all those details about the traffic and the exit you're passing and the TV show you watched part of last night and the (pause, curse, honking noises) lane change you just made and the (pause, curse, siren noises) U-turn you just made and how swell it was we had this chance to catch up, but now you're home and obviously have way better things to do than talk to me, who obviously has nothing at all to do. No, my boss pays me to just sit here fielding calls from friends on their cell phones so, Bye!

Voilà, the lively art of conversation, with a retractable antenna through its heart. Ever since cell phone providers started offering free long distance and gazillions of minutes a month, anyone with a traditional phone and a tendency to pick it up has been screwed.

"Hi, I'm calling from my cell phone!" has become as dreaded a greeting as, "Hi! I'm calling from the cell phone company!"

"Just because you've got extra time in your 'minute plan' doesn't mean I've got extra minutes in my life," my pal Chris McLemore fumes.

"I'm tired of baby-sitting people who call me from their cars," agrees Stacey Miller, an entrepreneur in Massachusetts.

While we all understand that drive time is sometimes the only time when busy people can chat for fun, what those folks don't seem to realize is that their conversations are as lively as roadkill.

The biggest problem, of course, is that decent drivers can't pay complete attention to what they're saying because they are multi-tasking with a ton of speeding steel. Worse, they pay even less attention to what we're saying because we are their Lite FM - a pleasant soundtrack to enjoy for the ride.

And then turn off.

Then there's the little issue of reception. "Face it," says Arthur Greenwald, a TV producer. "The cell phone is still being invented." Right now it's at roughly the same developmental stage as the crank phone, which is why even the trendiest types with the tiniest phones end up yelling into the mouthpiece sure as great-aunt Adelaide when she was trying to reach the butcher. So a typical car-to-long-suffering-friend call goes like this:

"Hi. I'm on my way to - WHAT? I'm losing you. Can you hear me? I can't hear you. CAN YOU HEAR ME? I can hear half of you. Can you hear me now? HOW ABOUT NOW? Are you there? Call me back!


Well, not me. And not some of the others I've heard of. My friend Gary had a buddy who would only call him from the car. They are friends no more.

While I do truly love some of the people who call me while commuting, here's my new trick: "Hello? Hello?

You say you're calling from the bar? CAN YOU HEAR ME? HANG UP! I'll call you right back!"

On your home number.

JWR contributor Lenore Skenazy is a columnist for The New York Daily News. Comment by clicking here.


04/16/02: Chats of a lifetime
04/10/02: This Pet Has a Tail to Tell
03/26/02: Hey, New York - Take a Haiku
03/21/02: Your 'victim,' is my 'survivor' is somebody else's 'hero'?
03/19/02: Terrorists, get out your No. 2 pencils
03/14/02: Tribute Has City Back at its Windows
03/06/02: Dumping Ted: Gray Day For the Baby Boomers
02/27/02: Sometimes, lying's the best policy
02/20/02: The Fad That Won't Fade Away
02/12/02: The smoking gun of white-collar crime is making some folks very happy
02/05/02: Exterminators are evolving, too
02/01/02: Don't suffer … do drugs
01/22/02: The Blue Light of Happiness
01/18/02: Marlboro's surprising gift to U.S.
01/08/02: Hospitals make me sick
01/02/02: Read-Aloud Resolutions
12/21/01: Nothing's Worse/Than Bad Verse
12/18/01: This Little Dog Bytes
12/13/01: Palm Pilot or Calendar? Paper Wins
12/07/01: The gift of 9/11
12/03/01: Altria Is Really Smokin'

© 2002, New York Daily News