Priorities First.

24 Mar

March 24, 2011

Quick- your toilet or your cell phone?

You can only have one. Which is it?

I choose the toilet.

Let me say up front that I am a cell phone owner. I am not a cell phone user. My phone is rarely, if ever, on. My theory on cell phone ownership is this: I am not a doctor or a lawyer. I am not on call at all hours of the day or night. If I am out doing something I don’t want to talk to people with whom I can talk to any other time. I don’t need to be on the grid 24/7. My phone is for my convenience. It is there in case I have to make a call. I don’t make frivolous calls. I have never called someone to say “where you at?” My phone calls don’t include the phrase “just chillin’.”

This is why people buy answering machines. Unless you are a professional or a corporation, you don’t have an answering machine to get the important calls you miss when you’re out, you have it to screen calls so you can avoid them. So if I am avoiding calls at home why would I answer any ring when I’m out?

I can hear the arguments now: What if it is an important call? If I am expecting an important call I am not at a ball game in a crowded stadium. If my wife is pregnant and may go into labor at any minute I am not venturing more than two minutes away from home. Don’t look for me in Baltimore. What about an unexpected emergency? Really, how many emergency calls have you gotten in your life? I haven’t gotten any. Odds are I won’t miss one if I go out. If an emergency happens at night I can be reached at home. During the day get me at work. The odds are on my side that I won’t get an emergency call while pumping gas, and the rules say I can’t use the cell phone then anyway.

The usefulness of my toilet is so obvious that I won’t go into it. I will simply link to the blog entitled No Toilet No Bride if you need an explanation.

Of course I am used to the toilets (and toilet paper) of the modern world. What would the answer be in Cambodia?

40 percent of Cambodians have cell phones? I have trouble believing that. How can they afford them? From all I have seen of Cambodia it is A- extremely poor and B- extremely poor. It is also underdeveloped and extremely poor.

“Hello, Sam?”
“Where you at?”

Cambodia once had the thriving civilization of the Khmer Empire. Its capitol city, Angkor, was the seat of government for a civilization of over 3 million. Not a single one of them had a cell phone. And no, it is irrelevant that cell phones were invented maybe five hundred years after the civilization declined and disappeared. My point stands- they valued toilets over cell phones.

So imagine the embarrassment of the guy sent to Cambodia to convince them to use toilets. This could not have been a glamour assignment. This seems like the sort of job given to the new guy.

“Earl, I have a job for you. It is a very important overseas assignment.”
“My name is Louis.”
“Earl, you leave tomorrow morning for Cambodia.”
“What am I going there for?”
“We’ll brief you when you arrive.”

And then it is too late to back out or quit.

On the other hand, put yourself in the place of the farmer singled out for producing the most excrement of anyone in the village. If he’s anything like me, he took it in stride. I’m sure he stood up, gave a small but awkward smile, waved to the crowd, and announced that he’s ready to take on all challengers. I hope a championship belt and a Wrestlemania match come with this title.

I wonder if Oprah knows about this? She needs to make them sign her no cell phone pledge.

4 Responses to “Priorities First.”

  1. Mac of BIOnighT March 24, 2011 at 2:01 am #

    I totally agree on everything you said about cell phones. For the vast majority of people they are not devices, they’re umbilical cords, anti-panic-attack pills, twisted philosophies (“They call me, therefore I exist”). Most people use them in a revoltingly impolite and disrespectful way, in every situation (I was at the funeral of one of my friends’ mother last year. The cell phone of the guy who was sealing the loculus rang, all the relatives crying around the tomb and there he was, the phone in one hand and the bricks in the other, chatting away). They’ve turned into an excuse not to try and show up on time (“I can take it easy, if I don’t get there on time, I’ll call him” – sure, why not, after all I was here on time and it’s my time you’re wasting, not yours).
    Nobody plans anything anymore, everything is badly improvized (“It doesn’t matter, I will quickly arrange things on the phone while I’m driving to the place”). I do not have and do not want a cell phone. My bosses tried to force me to keep one on me when I was hired, I strongly refused. I’ve worked there for three years now, I’ve always organized everything via email without a single problem, ever.
    And yes, I do have an answering machine to filter my calls. I do not answer when somebody I don’t like calls and I don’t answer when somebody I like calls at a bad time. Nobody ever died because they had to postpone saying hi to me, I’m not that important. I’m not a 24/7 service for people who have nothing better to do, especially the ones who only remember about you when nothing better is going on. I’m a person, I have my life that I’m happy to share with others, but not 24/7.
    It’s a horribly deviant behavior for today’s social standards? I don’t care. It’s surely less perverted than the looks I get when I say I don’t have a cell phone.


  2. Jim March 24, 2011 at 9:21 pm #

    “My phone is for my convenience.”

    You’re exactly right. Why this truth seems to have been forgotten is beyond me. Most people are Pavlov’s dog when that bell rings.


    • bmj2k March 24, 2011 at 11:44 pm #

      You are so right about Pavlov. Poeple are conditioned that a ringing phone must be answered. You can see the anxiety in people when they don’t. And why, when you have waited in line at a store for an hour, does a ringing phone get service before you do? Is the call a higher priority?


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