Breaking up

Modern communication has improved to the point where I find myself yelling, "You're breaking up!" several times per day into my phone. 

That never happened in the old days with those clunky dial phones. Once you got connected, you were connected. 

You had to stay close to the kitchen, at least until they started to sell those long cords at Radio Shack, but you didn't have to scream, "I am losing you!" to loved ones while you were in the frozen food aisle. 

"What happened if something happened?" I heard a relatively newborn person ask the other day about the dark ages before mobile communication devices. 

She meant: How did you find each other at the mall? How did you survive when you got a flat tire? How did you know when to pick up your kid? 

You know, I don't recall it being a problem. I do not recall once having to drive home from the mall during the 1980s because I couldn't find somebody due to the lack of a cell phone. 

What did we do? We planned ahead. 

Dropped calls. Dead batteries. No bars. Messages that show up four days late. 

With new technology, we are free not to communicate from almost anywhere. 

Just when you reach the point in the conversation when you are going to end the relationship, the person on the other end says, "I am losing signal," or "my battery is about to go dead, here, we'll talk some other..."

Breaking up, indeed.

Last summer, I told a friend on the phone a funny story. It was a really funny story. Maybe a little off color, but really funny. 

The story was so funny that when it ended, I laughed myself. 

My laughter was greeted with a stony silence. 

Oops, maybe the story wasn't so funny. 

"I guess you had to be there," I stuttered, trying to backpedal a bit. "I mean, it was funny at the time." 


Wow, I goofed this time, I thought. My tasteless humor went too far. 

"You surely must know I've got nothing against Helen Keller," I stammered, getting a little irritated, "I just thought it was a good joke."

Complete silence. 

"Well, for gosh sakes, if you can't even tell me what I did wrong, how am I supposed to apologize?" 

It was then I realized that my normally talkative friend wasn't offended. She simply wasn't there. 

Why hadn't she called me back after the line went dead? Because it took her five minutes to realize I was no longer listening politely to her boring tale of woe!

Somehow, we had simultaneously launched into monologues at the very point when the call was dropped. 

When we finally got reconnected, we not only had forgotten what we had been talking about, but we had to establish we didn't hate each other. 

The endless wonders of modern communication! 

Now, you can see which calls you missed. Thinking every missed call must be either love or money, I eagerly dial back without any idea who I am calling.

"Did somebody from this number call my number?" I say, waiting for them to say I miraculously won the lottery without buying a ticket.

"Uh, no, this is the post office," says the person on the other end. 

"Well, why is your number on my caller ID?" 

"I have no idea." 

"Okay, sorry."

"No prob."

Is it any wonder our economy is sluggish? Is it any wonder that productivity has sagged? 

We're all on the phone with each other trying to figure who called our number at the same time we're sitting at a four-way stop blocking traffic. 

Or, we're all dialing one for English, two if we are a new account, three if we want to know our balance, four if we need a hug, five if we want to apply for a job. 

Where's the real person option? What is the trick to get a real person on the other end of the line? 

Ah, that's where the internet comes in. Go on the internet and on the message boards, they'll tell you to push two even though you don't want a new account and then pretend you're confused about where to send a big check and you'll get a real person. 

When you get the real person, stand real still so your phone doesn't cut out and you have to start over from the beginning.  

If that person actually listens to you, push star seven to give them a hug.