Adventures in cell hell
It could have been any of a hundred bars in this town, but the one I had just entered was a little joint in downtown Reno that will go nameless because I didn’t get any free drinks to put its name in This Space.
I grabbed a stool at the bar and commenced to soaking in the scene. It was, at first glance, typical. Off to my left was a skin-headed hombre, a burly enough character, his attention being held completely by his video poker game. Next to him, his sexy blonde companion, who seemed to be desirous of at least some of the attention that her stubble-headed hunk was giving to the insistent machine below his eyes. To my right was a fairly boisterous group of five 20-somethings, maybe UNR student/drinkers, all having a bit of a time and providing the good-natured, alcohol-fueled hoohah that gives a bar its aura. The kind of bar-buzz that says to all that this bunch ain’t afraid of a shot or two. Or five. Jaeger spoken here. Behind me, seated at one of the little tables against the wall, was a couple who seemed to be oblivious of just about anything to come along, as long as whatever it was that came along didn’t bother to invade their discussion.
Like I said, typical enough.
But then, after a couple of minutes, I took note of something that, at first, seemed to be a curiosity, a cultural tic I’d never really noticed in public before. And then, upon reflection, it seemed what I was observing was a new behavioral paradigm, should I dare to be so lofty.
Everybody in the freakin’ joint was either using a cell phone or had one handy that was cocked, loaded and ready for use.
The blonde with the skinhead was workin’ hers, semi-desperately trying to find someone to talk to while her man doggedly played his poker. The student drinkers had at least two phones going, haranguing comrades to hurry up and get here in time for the next round. The bartender was on his, talking to who knows who; girlfriend, owner, pizza man, pot dealer. The couple at the table behind me—no phone. Apparently they were each talking to the only other person in the world they cared to be talking to. What a couple of dinosaurs. But … they each had their phones on the table.
Jeez, if Stephen King is right about that cell phone flu, humanity is set up very nicely to get its ass kicked. Hard.
So hell, I pulled my phone out and started callin’ people. I didn’t really want to talk to anybody, I just wanted to look as if I had some action going on. Fortunately, none of the people I called were answering. So, I took a breath, calmed down a bit, nursed my beer and figured I’d chat some with the bartender. That is, if he ever got off the phone. Perhaps I should just get his number and give him a call?