Walking down the road the other day I saw a man sitting in his car frantically waving his arms around. For all the world it looked as if he was trying to beat off a wasp or some other annoying insect. When I got closer I could see that he was having an animated conversation on his mobile phone (cellphone in the US; a term which I used to find a bit confusing when US colleagues sent me messages starting “I am sending this from my cell . . .“).
Of course this gesticulating happens on landlines as well as mobiles/cells but to whose benefit? The person on the other end of the call has no idea that you are so animated (unless of course it is a video call, in which case they probably have sent for the pest exterminators). I remember the first time I saw someone on a hands-free mobile walking down the road talking animatedly but with no-one within earshot. I was about to give him a wide berth, perhaps even to cross to the other side of the road when I cottoned on – the earpiece and the wire to the phone he was holding was the giveaway.
We have come a long way from the days when there was only one landline in the street apart from the red phonebox on the corner (good for outgoing calls, only useful for incoming calls if you knew when it was coming and no-one else was making a call). Then came party lines where two houses shared the same line and eventually our own phone often conveniently placed in an unheated hallway; so calls were kept brief not just because of the cost. Furniture was developed with a place to stand the phone, somewhere to sit and somewhere to store the telephone directories. When we moved to the house we are now in I routed cables through the loft so that we could have phones in the kitchen and bedroom as well as the living room. So much easier now when you have just the one base station and several wireless handsets.
Recently there was a glitch on our handset (one of three connected to the base station) which meant that all the handsets displayed the message “Line in use” I had to go back to an old rather clunky push button phone. It was quite a shock to dial a number without the benefit of a display showing the number I was dialing. I had to believe that I had got it right and that I wasn’t dialing someone in Vietnam – which is what my aunt did when she accidentally dialed 00844 rather than 01844 for my area code. We only realised what was happening when she got a phone bill with several short calls to a Vietnamese number. The gentleman (or lady) in Vietnam must have been quite confused at these calls in some strange foreign tongue but at least they couldn’t see her gesticulating as if warding off imaginary insects.
I had a phone call last week from Haematology to discuss my platelet levels. Slightly higher than October but lower than December but nothing to worry about – back for a face to face review in May. Next week (actually next month) I see the Oncologist and will discover whether my PSA is behaving as well as my platelets. I will keep you posted.