I wrote the following on an old blog a few years ago, as part of a post in which I awarded myself the Cell Phone User of the Year Award, and announced to the people of the world how they too could be worthy of such a prize:
Do not stare at your phone and let it ring while deciding whether or not to answer it. Every cell phone has a button that you can press to make it stop ringing without answering it. Usually it’s the End button. Use it. And by the way, why is this such a difficult decision? I always see people stare at their LCD for anywhere from 10 to 20 seconds while deciding whether or not to answer the call. What is on these people’s screens? A riddle? Mine just shows the name or number of whoever is calling me, thus making my decision about whether or not to take the call instantaneous.
Also, contrary to popular belief, hitting the Talk button on your mobile phone does not magically transport you into another dimension where the people around you can no longer see or hear you. If you simply cannot have your conversation without yelling into your phone, maybe you should just wait to take that call until you’re somewhere removed from polite society.
(I should note that this was a pre-conversion post, back when being uncharitable was not just a goal but a lifestyle.)
Anyhoo, over the past couple of years God has answered some half-hearted prayer I said way back at the beginning of my conversion process: from the “be careful what you ask for in prayer” files, I asked God for humility, and to be able to see my life through his eyes. I’ve since seen that all the characteristics that were pet peeves that I decried in other people, I have myself. I’ve learned that I have no time for criticizing others for being prideful, grouchy, slothful, uninformed, narrow-minded, disorganized or judgmental, because I am the worst of all. I might even drive slow in the left lane sometimes. But there is one thing, one act at the very pinnacle of annoying things that can be done, that I do not do: I am not a bad cell phone user.
So I thought.
Yesterday my mom and I took the kids to a crowded outlet mall. I was sitting on a bench, very distracted by trying to sooth a fussy baby while juggling purses and burp cloths and bags. My cell phone rang, and I couldn’t remember how to silence the ringer on this new phone so I let it ring loudly while I squinted to see who was calling. It turned out to be a good friend I needed to talk to, so I answered it. I couldn’t hear her very well, but we chatted for a while anyway. I’d occasionally nod to all the people who looked over to admire the cuteness of my baby.
As I took the phone away from my ear at the end of the call, I realized: I had been shouting into my cell phone. People weren’t looking over here to admire the baby but to get a look at just what fool was announcing her playdate plans to the entire mall.
It was in this moment that I realized: if I can be a rude cell phone user, there is no annoying thing that I can’t do. I think this makes it official that I can never complain about other people’s annoying habits ever again.
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