Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Zen and the Art of Butt Dialing

Who dialed You was me indeed
And me Wireless with one flaw
Tho' Yuppies, blue in tooth and claw
With chagrin, phoned despite no need. ~Alfred Lord Tennyson***

A few months ago I went to call (who I thought was) the last person in my call history, which I can quickly do from my mobile phone by simply hitting "send."

But the name that popped up wasn't someone I had ever called before. In fact, it was the friend of a friend who called me once when he was in town visiting — several weeks prior to this — trying to talk me into hanging out with them. I stored his number just in case I needed to call him later that evening.

I didn't.

So imagine my surprise when I see his name there and — thinking I'll need to call my friend to make sure everything was all right (my immediate response was that something was wrong, as the call had come through around 7 a.m. that morning) — I press further into the matter only to realize I had called him.

For four minutes.

It's called "butt dialing" — and it's an epidemic that's infecting gym bags, book bags and tight pockets nationwide.


But it's rare I accidentally call someone I seldom and/or have never called. Generally, my blasted Blue Tooth headset — squeezed tightly into the corners of my shoulder bag — will automatically turn on if pressed. And then automatically dial the last person in my call history with one additional short press of the button.

This, I am sorry to say, happens far more often than I care to admit. In fact, I'd estimate I "butt dial" at least once every couple of weeks, thanks in part to the fact that there's no convenient way to store these tiny headsets (how about a compact case, for crying out loud!), and in part to the fact that Motorola decided it was wise to activate these beasts by simply exerting a modest amount of pressure (I'd prefer a small switch, though I realize those could break off).

Now, I don't mean to blame technology for my own shortcomings. It's true I can turn off the Blue Tooth feature on my phone, but that means if I want to use my Blue Tooth headset (which I only use when I need to make a call while driving, or when multi-tasking from home), it takes four more steps to fire it up each time I want to call someone — which pretty much defeats the purpose of hands-free dialing.

So, anyway, I've long had a reputation among friends and family for not revealing too much by way of my personal life, or for participating in community gossip.

I decided fairly early in life that I should carry on private conversations as though they were being overheard. In other words: be wary of saying anything that could hurt someone's feelings (even if they're nowhere to be seen) or leaking any details about my life that I wouldn't openly share with Mom and Dad.

And as I sat at the Swedish restaurant Saturday morning and got out my phone to set the ringtone to silent — and realized I was unwittingly "involved" in a five minute conversation with someone's answering machine —

I decided that — now more than ever — it's best to be careful what you say (or do) aloud.

***Just kidding. That's me revisiting the original Tennyson. In 2008.


M@ said...

When I was smoking dope, I sort of butt-dialed my way through life....

When I was younger, I once butt-dialed my way into a jail cell for the night. The things we do....

radialrelish said...

Your Tennyson is, quite frankly, better than his.

thirdworstpoetinthegalaxy said...

M@ - Sounds like an exciting night in jail. What, with all that butt-dialing going on...

RR - :)

Woodrow said...

I started a post last weekend that may or may not ever get finished that is titled "Woodrow and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance".

Did you have to read that in school too? I don't remember anything about it, just the title.

XOXO said...

baby got back

Pamela said...

A close relative is having early onset dementia issues. She did something very similar --except she wasn't walking around town, she was talking to her "counselor" and she was talking about the person to whom her phone was connected.

I also "went" trick - or - treating with my grandchildren in California via my daughters butt call.

thirdworstpoetinthegalaxy said...

Woodrow - Nope, I've actually never read it... though I'd like to. I just reappropriated the title.

XOXO - Ribs?

Pamela - In regards to your relative: ouch. But I bet it was fun trick-or-treating!

=) said...

You haven't by chance butt dialed me lately have you? We had quite a long message on our machine recently. Can you check you call log? =) It was probably my mom again. She does that quite frequently.

thirdworstpoetinthegalaxy said...

=) Nope, you're not in my butt dial call history. Must've been your mum's bum.

Get it? Ha!