Ralph’s Solution To My Frustration With Cell Phone and Text Messengers

Posted: May 24, 2014 by S. Trevor Swenson in General, Life, Me & Mine
Those of you who know me and read my nuggets of wit and wisdom on facebook are all too aware that I have little to no patience for oblivious and self important text messagers plodding along on public sidewalks, paying no attention to anyone or anything else and forcing the rest of us to play an involuntary game of Marco Polo or Blindman’s Bluff.  I am also easily annoyed by people who feel the need to inflict their banal cell phone conversations upon the rest of us at a publicly unacceptable volume in places like bars, busses, subways, coffee shops and doctors offices.  You know, the rest of us don’t need to hear your break up. your anger toward your children or significant other…In fact, there is little to nothing that you’re saying on your Samsung life-support system that the rest if us need or want to hear. 
Thanks to my friend Ralph, I have come up with a positive and hopefully effective counter tactic for this behavior. Ralph just turned 90 years old, and I count my accessibility to his wit and wisdom among my many blessings.
So, from now on I shall open up whatever book I am reading at the moment, start to read and plow into whatever texter is hogging the sidewalk without bothering to look up and share with the rest of us.  Upon impact I will look up at them and apologize. “I’m SO very sorry, I wasn’t paying attention to where I was going or what I was doing, and on a busy sidewalk no less.  Will you please forgive me?”
For those inflicting their conversation on the rest of us, I will simply crack open my book and start reading aloud…in an ever so slightly irritating and unacceptable volume.  When they inevitably stop and glare at me, I will again apologize.  “Oh, I’m sorry, you didn’t really want to listen to me rambling on did you?  Sorry, I will bring it down to a volume that doesn’t bother others.”  The only trouble with this is that I have a good voice and great taste in reading material,  so people might actually want me to continue reading them a story.
It’s great to have found a positive and non violent solution to this issue.
  1. Ralph Tyler says:

    Dear Scott:

    Here’s a published story I wrote about the subject:


    Disturbing Books

    When cellphones began to be carried everywhere, Hank countered by taking along a book. He realized that it was harder to disturb others by reading–and he read silently–but he chose his titles carefully. If he went to a ball game, he would grip a slim volume of imagist verse. For a cocktail party rife with far-right entrepreneurs, he would hunt up Marx’s Capital and tuck it under his arm. Candide accompanied him on the rare times he found himself in church. Still, it wasn’t enough. People within earshot continued to carry on banal conversations into the empty air. Even raising an eyebrow over a copy of Les Fleurs du Mal at a Burger King didn’t stop them. No quitter, Hank bought a pocket notebook, intending to jot down pensées whenever he spotted somebody speaking into a rootless phone. He initiated it at a Starbucks, which provided a writing surface. “We’ll have to reschedule,” the caffe latte at the next table was saying into his portable phone. “My time’s valuable, too.” Hank took out his notebook and wrote: “Time’s an illusion, We’ll die just as soon.” “Couldn’t we make it Thursday–Thursday for lunch,” the caffe latte wheedled. “I’m up to my ass in work.” “Couldn’t we make it a billion years from now, when the earth has cooled?” Hank wrote. His pen stopped. The trouble was, there was nobody at his other end. “Put on something decent,” his neighbor exploded. “You don’t wear fishnet stockings at the Harvard Club.” Hank snapped his notebook shut. On leaving, he disposed of it along with his paper cup and muffin wrap. Real life had more imagination than he could come up with. He began stuffing a paperback thriller in his back pocket as well as carrying a hardcover. He believed he did this so he could whip the thriller out and irritate cellphone users saying snobbish things about popula‡r culture. More probably, he needed something to read besides the big guns he hauled in his literary artillery, such as Sartre’s Nausea or The Collected Works of Robert Browning, One perfect spring day Hank sat on a park bench and eagerly pried out his current paperback. The hero was at the mercy of a woman whose furs had concealed a snub-nose revolver. At a breathless moment in the story, a heavy-set man grunted and sat down on the bench. Hank ignored him until he heard the telltale beep of a portable phone. It was badly timed. In Hank’s thriller, the woman, whose accent was Central Park South but whose actions were South Bronx, had tied up the hero, hinting that she would be having her way with him. “Hello!” said the intruder into his cellphone. “Yeah, George here. Is that you, Brenda?” The ultra cool hero in the paperback was saying: “Your way may be my way. But I must point out there’s a bomb set to explode in the next room. Perhaps you should untie my wrist so I can consult my Rolex.” “Who’s that with you? Is it Sam?” A pause, and then loudly, “Since when has Mary Beth been a baritone?” “Would you mind keeping it down,” Hank said. “I’m reading.” “Just a moment, sweetheart, some jerk here’s giving me a hard time.” Hank clobbered him with A Man Without Qualities during the ensuing struggle. Falling forward, the intruder cracked his skull. Hank used a portable phone for the first time in his life, tapping out 911. Shortly after the cops arrived, he was arrested for murder. Cellphone users, it seems, had already whined to the authorities about his aggressive reading. “So you’re on a crusade?” the district attorney said. “You should have stopped short of homicide.” The portable phone lobby, its coffers swollen by money from the entire electronics industry, hired the best publicists to set up a hue and cry against the accused. Hank could muster little financial support for legal talent–the bulk of it from an Emily Dickinson circle in New Jersey. The lawyer, who represented him between swigs from a pocket flask, flubbed the case, and Hank ended up on Death Row. He continued to be a thorn in the side by insisting he be allowed to take a book along when he was strapped to the gurney. Support mounted from overseas. France, sensing a chance to needle the Neanderthals in the U.S., backed his book plea with substantial contributions as his request toiled its way to the Supreme Court. Readers’ groups everywhere chipped in. To no avail. The closely reasoned answer was no. It would set a precedent. “What else would the condemned ask to be strapped with them for the long good-bye?” one of the jurists wrote. This tribute to Raymond Chandler mitigated Hank’s disappointment, but not by much. “I just can’t check out without reading matter,” he complained to a sympathetic guard the night before the execution date. “They tranquilize you first,” the guard reassured him. “It’s very civilized.” “A martini?” “You’re a dreamer.” “It’s the books I’ve been reading. They suggest that life needn’t be so unrewarding.” “Have another think,” the guard said before leaving Hank’s cell to grab a smoke. Upset by the fate that awaited his likable prisoner, the guard inadvertently left the cell door ajar. Hank seized his chance and tiptoed to the prison library, He returned with an Agatha Christie, only to discover that he had already read it under a different title. He jumped to the cell door but he had locked it shut. Slumping back on his cot, he spent the night cursing himself for not memorizing more Shakespeare instead of wasting his youth on the lesser Edwardians. The prison padre arrived for a spiritual talk early next morning, Hank begged him for a prayer book or Bible, anything to hold as he slipped away. All the padre had to |offer was The Power of Positive Thinking. Hank scratched his head. “I think not,” he said. The doctor came to check out whether he was in any shape to die. Ironically, there was a telltale beep from the cellphone the doctor carried to keep abreast of his patients and stocks. “It’s for you.” He handed the phone to Hank. Through the instrument of the enemy Hank learned of his reprieve. His judge’s findings had been tainted by his majority ownership of a portable phone company. A comely woman in the ever-faithful Emily Dickenson circle had uncovered the connection. Hank got to know her during his second trial as they passed notes back and forth like randy high school students. The “not guilty” verdict called for celebration, and they decided to get married. Hank didn’t take Candide along to the church, or any book. This time, he reasoned, reality was good enough. # # #

  2. Poopy Pantaloones says:

    Lmao! I want to do this on the train! Rude people have all the fun. Lol

  3. I think I may try the reading trick on rude cellphoners. Great idea! This video shows another great idea in combatting the problem. I can sooooo see you doing this one!!! http://www.metro.us/newyork/news/2013/12/16/video-man-crashes-peoples-phone-calls-at-airport/


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