I just need to vent for a moment. I left my iPod in my car this morning. Not only is it a must for surviving my work day, but I left it on the dash board in full view of any sticky fingered folk passing through the parking lot.
I drive a Jeep Wrangler with a soft top. After years of living in Over the Rhine, (for non-Cincinnati natives, this is a bad area of town. Its existence is the sole reason I like to call Cincinnati Little Detroit.) I am in the habit of not locking my doors. Locked doors on a soft top Jeep is an invitation to cut through the 1000 dollar soft top.
I hoofed it back to my car and rescued my iPod. On my return, I noticed the parking lot fee had gone up by 50 cents. The lot I park in has one of those lock boxes that patrons are expected to drop appropriate amounts of money in. I approached the lock box to deposit my additional change. There was a woman depositing her change. She was muttering, mostly in Spanish. She had a Blue Tooth headset in her hear.
I thought at first that she must be talking to someone on the phone. But then she kept turning around and making eye-contact with me. I understand quite a bit of Spanish, so I knew that she was complaining about the weather. I had no idea if she was expecting a response from me. I found myself growing more and more irritated with her for putting me in a socially awkward situation.
I decided to just stare at her blankly. She finished with her change. I put in my extra 50 cents and headed back to the building. She was headed to the same building that I was. We basically repeated the same sequence. Only this time she was fumbling around with her id badge to open the office building door.
I think the worst unintended consequence of our increased mobile communication is that as a culture we have sacrificed those in our immediate presence to whomever may call or text us. I can think of four recent examples with almost no effort. The woman in line at Starbucks yammering on her cell phone, trying to slip in her order to the cashier while she maintained her conversation on the phone. At a concert last night, the guys who didn’t say a word to each other for 30 minutes because they were faffing about with their phones. As a server, I’ve waited on countless patrons who would take calls ignoring both me and their dinner companion. At a family event, my cousin spoke nary a word to anyone there because she was too busy texting.
I am an annoyance to most of my friends because I am not timely in responding to texts and calls. There is a palpable pressure to respond to the pinging devices in our pockets. I resist that pressure. Recently, I’ve been thinking about making the most of every moment. I’m sure I won’t be wishing that I texted more on my death bed. I’m sure I will wish for more time with the people I care about; I’m also sure I will wish for time in their presence, not more time typing in 140 character messages with my thumbs.