The International Writers Magazine: New York Life
Everywhere I go, everybody’s got his face stuck in a cell phone. Crossing, the street, in bars, on the trains people are staring into their phones, waiting for something to happen. I wish I could invent a phone with a boxing glove that pops out and punches the guy in the face.
Hell, the stoopid things don’t even receive calls in subway tunnels, but that doesn’t bother anybody. Now they can text useless messages for later transmission, or play dopey video games. People don’t even read newspapers anymore, never mind books. It’s just blah blah blah.
You would think that with all the new information technology everybody would be evolving into geniuses. Instead, it’s the opposite. In fact, they are getting stupider. They are using the occasion to compress language down to unintelligible bits of indecipherable nonsense. And not just in English. The trend toward idiocy is worldwide. Instead of Body Snatchers taking over the human race, it’s The Attack of the iPod People. But they’re just as stupid as zombies.
It used to be that everybody wanted to be an artist, musician, designer. The biggest status symbol used to be an electric guitar, which takes at least five years to learn. A guy or girl with a guitar was really something! Nowadays, you are judged by your freakin telephone. How lame is that?
People don’t realize how much they are being taken to the cleaners with this cell phone racket. In India a cell phone call costs 2¢ per minute, and it’s the same technology. Hell, you can call India from New York for less money than it costs to call across town. Try to get a phone contract in New York for less than $100 a month! Yeah, I know you can get some advertised specials for half that amount, but when you factor in the “service charges”, penalties and taxes, you are looking at the cost of a really, really good gym membership. Nobody can talk that much!
Not that they’re not trying. Faced with the dilemma of trying to derive some value from the usurious contracts that they are locked into, people are reaching out all day every day, creating havoc in the minds of poor souls like me who are already tottering on the brink of lunacy. Not only that, but every phone’s a stage, with idiots inflicting their personal lives with stentorian inflection on everybody within a fifty foot radius. I wish I could recount some of the lame conversations I have had to endure as a collateral victim of these interventions but, thankfully, my mind is conditioned to block out any memory of these unfortunate dialogues, otherwise, New Yorkers being the bags of hot air that they are, I would have long ago been driven clinically insane. There are not enough drugs in the world to anaesthetize you from all the ignorant trivia that these people are pleased to inflict. New Yorkers were always idiots, but in past generations they had to keep it to themselves. Now, with these phones they can bore the ears off you anytime, anywhere. Which begs the question: how many of those nut jobs are really talking into live phones, and how many are just holding a dead piece of junk to their ears and yakking to get some attention? I bet there are plenty of those!
I had a freakin cell phone for a couple of years when I was managing the bagel factory. The boss paid for it. Having that piece of junk was a real ball and chain, let me tell you! The boss was an imbecile and a neurotic, tendentious prick, business for him just being a function of personal aggression. He couldn’t pick on the workers because they would immediately go running to the union, whom he feared, so this mutherlovin piece of garbage placated his own personal demons by terrorizing his managers.
Since the place operated 24 hours a day, I was never off duty. This jackass of a boss would call me at home or while I was dining in a restaurant to excoriate me about the route drivers, the inventory, refrigeration maintenance, whatever. In addition, I would get calls at 4 AM from other managers about the garbage collection or bulk flour deliveries. After a couple of years of this, I finally tossed him the phone and took a hike, which he never believed would happen. People have got a tendency to judge you through the prism of their own experiences and he figured that since he was stuck in that mess for life, therefore so was I. In fact, I had just accepted to work for him because I was out on a limb during an economic recession, and now the recession was over. There were real jobs again. “I just came in here to get out of the rain”, I told him. “Now it’s not raining anymore”. The last time I saw this moron, I was riding in the back of a limo and he was standing at the corner wearing his stupid baseball cap. Seeing my face through the window, his eyes bugged out of his head like an animated insect in a Dreamworks movie.
Since then I have not had a phone. I don’t know what obtains in the rest of the world, but this is Manhattan, with four pay phones on every corner. Only an idiot needs a cell phone in New York. The money would be better spent on a good haircut or a cool pair of shoes, not to mention a great vacation, which you can buy for cash just by going without a cell phone for a few months.
Just like the computers have come down as the market has become saturated, cell phone charges are bound to drop. Maybe when it gets down to $20-25 a month I’ll get one, but not until. Not having a phone has not hurt me in the least. I thought I was the only weirdo to not care about the useless junk, but just in the last week I discovered that neither Donald Trump nor Warren Buffet uses them, and these guys do a lot of business. Of course, they are surrounded by lackies who carry an iPhone in their right hand, a Razor in the left and a Blackberry lodged up their butt. But still, if these guys aren’t connected either, I must be onto something. Anyway, if I really feel the irresistible compulsion to play with myself, I can always take out my harmonica and play “Sweet Home Chicago”. It takes more talent to operate a $5 harmonica than it does to operate a $500 cell phone.
© Dean Borok Dec 14th 2009
Dean just won a great writing contest in New York. So a big hooray for him