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Flying Cell Phones

01/19/05 12:00AM By Ken Sheldon
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(HOST) Commentator Ken Sheldon has been trying to imagine what it would be like to be trapped in an airplane, listening to other people's one-sided cell phone conversations, and he's formulating a plan to fight back.


(SHELDON) It appears that airlines are soon going to allow passengers to use their cell phones while flying. Great. Now we'll all get to enjoy the details of Helen's gall bladder surgery, plus an update on the latest offenses of Susan's boyfriend, a.k.a. "the jerk", and why Bob can't possibly renegotiate the L&R contract for the DMP region in time for the GBO meeting in LA.

It wouldn't be so bad if these people would talk in normal tones. But something about cell phones makes people think they need to speak loud enough for overhead satellites to pick up the conversation. My grandmother used to think that the further away a caller was, the louder she had to speak. But my grandmother had an excuse; she was deaf. Unless cell phone users are, too, what's their excuse?

And what is it that makes cell phone users talk about such private matters in public? Do they think a cone of silence descends over their heads when they use their cell phones, like on the old Get Smart TV show? Listen up, people: We hear every word you're saying, and we don't want to!

The folks using regular cell phones are bad enough, but things have gotten really weird with the advent of hands-free cell phones. These days, you can't tell the schizophrenics - who have good reason to be talking to themselves - from people who simply can't bear the silence inside their own heads for five minutes. There's probably a name for this - something like chronic cell phone connectivitus.

Here's what I have to say to the airlines about this cockamamy idea: If you're going to allow inflight cell phone usage, you'd better have a non-cell phone section. You think passive smoking is a problem? It's nothing compared to the damage caused by secondhand cell phone blather.

I know, according to the wireless companies, cell phone usage on airlines isn't a matter of safety. Oh yeah? Wait till they get hit with the first lawsuits for inflight cell phone rage. I'm telling you, if I have to lock myself up in that undersized closet they call a lavoratory just to get away from some blabbermouth talking about his toenail fungus, I'll do it. Better yet, maybe they should make the cell phone users sit in the lavoratory while making a call. That'll put a quick end to the conversation about what Sally's dog did in the back seat of the Subaru.

If they are going to allow cell phone usage on airplanes, there should at least be some rules about it. Maybe after the fascinating explanation of the correct way to insert your seat buckle and inflate the safety vest, there could be something like this:

"Ladies and gentlemen, just a reminder that FAA regulations prohibit cell phone users from discussing intimate personal matters within hearing range of other passengers, including, but not limited to, your daughter's nose ring and the infection it caused, why Jason wasn't allowed to return to daycare even though the doctor said it wasn't contagious, and what happened when you ate the sushi at that new place Phil recommended."

Here's my plan if they do allow cell phone usage during flights. When the first phone rings, I'm going to start whistling the old Joe Jones hit, "You Talk Too Much", and keep whistling it till they hang up. Does that sound annoying? I sure hope so.

I'm Ken Sheldon from Hancock, NH, where there's no signal. And we like it that way.

Ken Sheldon is an author, singer and songwriter.
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