I HAVE A LOVE-HATE relationship with phones. Always have, always will. Yes, I know. The technology’s brilliant. I mean, you can use a phone these days to take photos, surf the net, make music, locate lost trampers, and even mow lawns. But phones have become far too complicated, for my liking …
It was so much simpler back in the Good Old Days, when people just shouted at each other. Or sent pigeons. Or used smoke-signals when they wanted to chat. Sure, you had to climb a hill and light a fire. And it probably took a little longer than phoning, texting or tweeting. But the stress was minimal:
“Puff-puff?” (Feel like a coffee?)
“Puff-puff-puff?” (Yeah! I’ll meet you at McCafe?)
Contrast that with the panic-attacks, migraines and brain-ulcers now known to be caused by modern gizmos, and you’ll get my point.
Last year, for example, I purchased a hands-free kit so I could use my cellphone in the car without being arrested. It’s a dinky little thing, with a wire loop that goes over my ear, and a tiny rubber ear-piece that fits snugly into my lug-hole.
But, oh, the STRESS …!
I keep forgetting to charge it up. I keep forgetting to turn it on. I keep forgetting to wear it when I’m in the car. And I keep forgetting to take if off when I’m NOT in the car. I entered our local Lotto shop in the weekend with my hands-free gadget dangling from my ear, and the dairy-owner asked me how long I’ve had a hearing-aid!
Only last week, my wife (who’s hopeless with anything digital) made a call on my cellphone using my hands-free gadget. And, when she handed it back, the tiny rubber ear-piece was missing. I was so annoyed that we finally had to stop the car. But a thorough search of the entire surrounds failed to retrieve it.
I told her to be more careful in future, and we drove on. But, half-an-hour later, while fiddling with her hair, she found it. My tiny rubber ear-piece had actually come off – and was stuck inside her ear!
My war with phones sometimes goes the other way, thankfully. And I recently scored a point for Kiwi ingenuity. I was in my home-office, and had occasion to call a certain government department about a certain matter. I was using my landline, and I’d finally negotiated the obstacle course that government departments employ to determine what you want and who you need to talk to – when the pre-recorded voice informed me that I had to join a queue. “There is currently an hour-long wait,” said the voice. “But please hold, because one of our staff will be with you eventually …”
I had little option but to wait. I needed certain information from that certain department, and I needed it that day – not sometime next year. So I hung on …
and hung on …
and hung on …
Seated at my desk, I tried holding the phone with one hand while I typed with the other – but that proved unbearably slow. I tried leaving both hands free to type by jamming the phone against my ear with my shoulder – but that made my neck ache.
Desperate now, I rummaged in a drawer and found a large rubber-band which I managed to stretch over my head and around the phone – but it was too tight across my forehead, and cut off the circulation to my eyeballs.
My wife walked in about now, and asked what was I doing, and did I realise how stupid I looked? But, upon learning of my dilemma, she kindly went and found one of her scarves – which she managed to tie around my head, clamping the phone securely to my ear.
Yes, I know. It wasn’t a good look. And my wife (who couldn’t stop giggling) insisted on taking a photo. But I didn’t care. My problem was solved – I was hands-free at last! – and an hour later I got the information I’d been waiting for.
It was a triumph of man over machine – and Kiwi No.8 wire mentality had won the day!
I slept well that night …
JOHN (GRAPEVINE’S FOUNDER/EDITOR) ADMITS THAT, IF HE’D HAD SOME NO.8 WIRE, HE WOULD’VE USED THAT.