The reality (?) of mobile phones

It’s my guest blogger’s turn to take over today. Enjoy!


Last week I went to the supermarket. Nothing strange in that except what should have been a straightforward, weekly event for me turned into a nightmare. How so?

Let’s begin with the car journey: it’s less than 1 mile. There is one set of traffic lights on the route. It is red when I get there. I’m second in the queue. I wait, like everyone else. Light goes amber then green, outside lane moves off, my lane doesn’t. As I look at the driver in front, the person has a mobile phone held to their ear and is obviously not paying attention to the traffic lights. After a couple of seconds I beep my horn and they wake up and start driving. I’m not convinced they finished the call but at least they put the phone down.

Now I’m approaching the supermarket entrance. A lady is walking back and to and side-to-side on the pavement. She is actually shouting and doesn’t see me trying to get past. As she turns round I see she is on the phone. She is having an argument in raised tones. She is telling the person on the other end: “You get out of my house RIGHT NOW!!” and this is followed by words I can only represent by ******* being said many times. She is blocking the pavement and I have to walk into the road to get around her so I can get to the trolley area. That’s two mobile obsessed people and I haven’t even got in the door yet!

I have a list. I grab my trolley and move quickly inside. I know exactly where I’m going and which aisles I need to be in. I speed through the first three aisles grabbing everything I need. I turn the corner into aisle 4 and, as I make my way down to the shelf I need, I see a problem. I can’t get to it. There is a person talking on their mobile phone but holding their trolley at right angles to the shelves so it is actually blocking the aisle. Why do people do that? I can’t get past. I wait a bit but no reaction.

Time for tactic no.2 – crash, apparently accidentally, into said trolley pretending to be looking the other way. Person looks round and moves trolley out of the way. They don’t stop the phone conversation. I carry on. Soon I’m at the last aisle and heading for the freezers as my last stop. I finish there in just a couple of mins with the items on my list going swiftly into the trolley. Time for the checkout. My bags which I’m going to re-use to collect my green points on to the loyalty card are ready, my bank card is ready, money off vouchers are ready. This supermarket has 15 checkouts but on a Monday morning at opening time (8.00am) they have only one or two with staff. Today it’s one but fortunately for me only one person is in the queue. It’s 8.25 and I’m doing well and should make it back home before the roads get clogged with school traffic which they will by about 8.40am. The person in front begins to unload their trolley and then I hear this ringing noise. Yep you’ve guessed it – their mobile phone! Now if I’m emptying my trolley onto a supermarket checkout belt answering the phone is simply a non-starter. I’ll get to the call later. (Just like if I’m talking to someone face-to-face and my phone rings, I don’t answer. That person is who I’m giving my attention to and I would consider it rude of me to just expect them to wait while I answer a call.)

However I’m not this person and they answer the call and then carry on a discussion while trying to put all their stuff onto the belt. Not surprisingly they now start moving more slowly so they can concentrate on what is being said. The fact that there is a person standing behind seems to be of no importance to them. Then they proceed to stack the trolley with the checked items from the cashier one-handed! The conversation goes on. It’s payment time and now out comes the purse, again one-handed, and then much fumbling through to find the right card to pay. Did they apologise for holding me up? What do you think? Oh well. Finally I get out and to the road near my house. I’m just too late to beat the standing traffic. The tailbacks are caused because there are two lollipop ladies, who are of just a few hundred yards apart on this road, who help children to cross safely. Of course it’s not them I’m complaining about. It’s their job to help the kids over the road and if they weren’t there the kids wouldn’t be able to get to the school. So there it is.

I’d been out of the house for less than 1 hour and FOUR yes 4 people had thought their phone calls were more important than letting the world go about its business in an unobstructed way. Let’s be honest – the calls weren’t that important. Not one of them was an emergency call. No-one dropped their bags and ran to the hospital or drove round the next corner on two wheels. Even the lady telling the person to get out of her house stayed where she was. Going shopping shouldn’t be that hard should it? But that day it was.

I’m sure you’ve all got examples of how people get so wrapped up in their phones that they don’t realise what’s going on around them. That’s why there was a question mark behind the word “reality” in the title of today’s post. I really do wonder, when answering their mobiles, if people actually just go into a different world – a mobile world. It’s a world which says, “Look at me, what I’m doing is more important than anything you folks in the real world want to do. You’ll have to wait because I’m on my phone!!” (Maybe for some it’s even a case of “I know it will wind you up if I take this call so I’ll take it in order to wind you up!”)

Most of the time it’s not a problem but there are a number of cases where accidents, sometimes fatal, have been caused by people using mobile phones inappropriately. Honestly would you want to be responsible for something like that. Of course you wouldn’t. And that’s what I tell myself every time the phone rings when I’m driving. Leave it. Get to it later when I stop or pull over if I think it’s something I have to deal with there and then.

I’ve been having a few thoughts in this direction and will run them by you next week. I think I may be onto something.

10 responses to this post.

  1. God, what a disaster! If it helps, it made me giggle but I’m also soooo over selfish idiots on their phone.


    • Yep, it’s really about lack of respect (manners?) and not recognising the danger you put yourself and more importantly others in when you disengage from reality. The driving one is perhaps the worst but some internet sites are saying some states in the US are fining people for using mobiles when walking. Presumably the reason is that they may be causing some problem but maybe readers in the US can shed some light on this.


  2. I don’t know where you live, but where I am in Nova Scotia they made it illegal to talk on a mobile phone while driving. It was a great idea, I think, but unfortunately it has paved the way for many more people to do something even worse that’s harder to get caught at….TEXTING while driving.

    It’s amazing how people think that these devices – which didn’t even EXIST when I was in junior high school – are somehow more important than anything else going on in the world around them.


    • Yeah, it’s illegal here here in the UK whilst driving. Strictly speaking if you take a call in the car you should be stationary, engine turned off AND (and it’s a big AND) the keys must not be in the ignition. Reason: even if engine off but keys still in ignition you are considered to be “in control of a motor vehicle” and can still be prosecuted. Not a lot of people realise that. Although stationary, they sit with engine actually running talking on the phone. In fact using a hand held device, whilst driving, for anything (texting, email, sms etc) is illegal here.


  3. And people wonder why massacres happen in the US.


  4. Posted by pamasaurus on October 17, 2012 at 16:11

    I live in New Jersey, and it’s illegal to talk or text while driving in this state. In Pennsylvania (which is right next door), it’s only illegal to text. You can still make calls.

    I, personally, hate using the phone while driving. I have a friend, though, that sees no issue texting, painting her nails, eating, brushing her hair, whatever, while driving. it scares me how many people are like that! I refuse to ride with her.

    I haven’t heard of the ‘fined for walking and texting’ thing, though.


    • Posted by pamasaurus on October 17, 2012 at 16:13

      ps. I also HATE talking on the phone, so I rarely answer it, haha. If I’m not home, I’ll only answer calls from my husband because he only calls me if it’s important. He doesn’t like the phone, either.


  5. Posted by Alex Jones on October 19, 2012 at 19:59

    People are enslaved to mobile phones, as many are to Facebook and television. To think these are supposed to be mere tools to make life easier, instead they become an enslaving burden to the user and to innocent bystanders, who have to put up with the menace of suddenly robotic human machines linked to their gadgets.


    • Totally agree. The key to anything that, as you say, “enslaves” someone is the ability (or the decision) to say “NO”. Just like any addiction, if you don’t say no then it controls you and you won’t stop! People need to ask themselves: “What is controlling me?” Is it TV, Facebook, phone/phone apps/texting, hobbies 1,2,3 or whatever? Will I turn the TV off a favourite programme if a visitor arrives while I’m watching and so on?


  6. […] so back to today’s subject. You remember the blog 17.10.12 (The reality (?) of mobile phones)in which I mentioned my frustrations on a supermarket visit. I was thinking of how, when the shop […]


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