Thursday 12 May 2011

A Week of Mobile Phone Rage

WEDNESDAY: Lunch is my regional American version of a prawn sandwich, with the prawns mixed with a small spoonful of mayonnaise, a squeeze of tomato purée, a dollop of grated horseradish, a few drops of Tabasco sauce, some fresh thyme, and a few drops of lemon juice, all in a wheat breadcake with some mixed leaf. It's like the British expats I stayed with once in New Orleans. It's a bit of Fat Wednesday on the Baja coast. Fruit is slices of the most gorgeous mango I've come across in ages, along with satsuma, fresh pineapple, and pear slices. And I've got two vine-ripened cherry tomatoes as well. Yee-haw!

WEDNESDAY 2 WEEKS LATER: I've had a week off for the University's spring break. I could have had two weeks off, but extra hours were offered and I need whatever bits and pieces of money I can get my hands on in order to survive these inflationary times. Lunch today is Stilton and hot papaya chutney on a seeded bap from Marks & Spencers, with cherry tomatoes and a tiny carrot on the side. Fruit features bits of satsuma, plum, apple, cantaloupe, and grapes.

Because I've only just returned to a university library full of hordes of students, all trying to return their truckloads of books at the same time, it's difficult to think. There has been plenty of news lately to write about: the wedding of Will and Kate, overly commented on by both my British and my American Facebook friends (and no, I never saw the Sputnik hat); the freak torrential rain and hailstorm the western side of Sheffield experienced on a balmy sunny Saturday, with hailstones the size of golfballs threatening to shatter all the Velux windows; the tornadoes in the American South and New York State; and, of course, the killing and ocean disposal of Osama Bin Laden.

So I think I'll just write about my recent week of phone rage.

FRIDAY: And whaddya know? Somehow it got to be Friday. And I'm having a Groundhog Day sandwich, eg. what I had yesterday: smoked salmon and cream cheese with capers on a seeded bap. This is because I've suddenly got a ton of smoked salmon to go through singlehandedly. For variety I added some chopped spring onion and a little dill on today's in order to vary the taste and flavour so I don't get tricked into thinking it's still yesterday. It's quite nice, even without the essential bagel.

The week before my spring break I experienced a string of mobile-phone-related "incidents". One morning, on my bus ride to work, a young lady sat facing me. I watched as she inserted her earphones and proceeded to tune into Internet radio on her phone, at which point she sat back, entranced and oblivious to the fact that the loud girlie dance music she was blasting into her ears was also blasting loudly out of her phone's speaker. When I leaned forward and tapped her gently on the knee she looked at me nervously. "Your speaker is on," I said, smiling gently. "I know!" she replied and resumed staring straight ahead, bombarding her eardrums. Since I really didn't want to spend my pre-work reverie listening to loud rubbish I got up and moved to another seat.

That evening, while I was waiting for my bus home, another young woman stood next to me, apparently talking loudly to herself. I quickly realised she was having a conversation on her hands-free kit, earphones in ears while she held her mobile by her side. As the bus arrived she suddenly yelled in my ear, "I LOVE YOU! BYE!" On the bus she sat across from me, pushed some buttons on her phone, and proceeded to talk loudly to the air. "WHAT?" she yelled, staring at the back of another passenger's head. "WHAT? I CAN'T HEAR YOU! You keep phoning but I CAN'T HEAR YOU! I SAID I CAN'T HEAR YOU!" I watched, amazed, as she continued to hold her mobile firmly in her lap while holding the earphone cord up to her mouth and yelling, "I CAN'T HEAR YOU!" I shook my head, wondering why she couldn't consider the original intention of the mobile phone and just unplug the damn earphones and hold the phone up to her ear.

A couple of days later I was sitting in the staff area in the middle of one of the library's collections, working quietly by myself and enjoying my temporary solitude. A male student suddenly appeared who was having a long and quite loud conversation on his mobile with a mate. It wasn't just that he was speaking with that irritating lisp that tho many Englith thudenth thpeak with and that driveth me inthane, but it was his damn pacing. Each time he'd disappear, taking his boring conversation thankfully away with him, I'd hear that Doppler effect of his return as he would pace back into MY personal space and bombard my thoughts with his inane chatter about hith perthonal life. I finally stood up angrily, said out loud, "I can't stand this anymore!" and went off for a break.

When I returned he was gone. Then I moved down into an aisle of books and began working. My nerves were still quite taut, so I couldn't help being irritated by an occasional BEEP! I walked around, trying to figure out where this random but constant BEEP! was coming from. I finally decided it had to be coming from a female student who was sitting at a table at the end of the aisle I was working in. She was looking straight ahead at her computer -- and then I spotted the mobile phone in front of her. She seemed to be having a very long text conversation with somebody in short spurts, perhaps texting each individual sentence she read on the screen, and it was her phone's text alert that was gradually turning me into a raving lunatic. I considered running down the aisle, grabbing her mobile, running up to Level 6, and dropping the phone down the centre stairs, watching delightedly as it tumbled to Level 2, smashing in a million pieces.

But then I thought about Health & Safety and decided it would be a better idea to take another break.

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