LAST WEEK, BOSSY WROTE A CHEEKY POST entitled, Things Our Ancestors Never Said. You know - text me, friend me, leave room for a retweet - all the technology-influenced lingo that laces our modern lexicon.
It doesn't take much to make me wax nostalgic, and Bossy's post did just that. Raise your hand if you remember the Good Old Days, when "text" was only a noun and "dial" meant to actually DIAL instead of punching in a series of numbers and telephones really did "ring" and "chatting" was something that required actual verbal interaction, sometimes tethered to one of these:
And that makes me think of something else that our ancestors never said:
"Can I call you back? I'm in the checkout line, I'm just about to pay..."
Am I right? Because Grandma would not have been able to take her telephone with her when she left home and went to the market, seeing as how it was attached to the wall in her home. And even if she had been able to do that, she certainly would not have been so rude as to TALK ON IT during the ENTIRETY OF THE CHECKOUT TRANSACTION, completely failing to acknowledge the human who was ringing her purchases and placing them into white plastic bags so that she could easily carry them out to her Crossover SUV.
While it's true that Grandma never would have said "let me call you back while I check out", it's also true that two customers ahead of me in the Target checkout line last week ALSO failed to briefly interrupt their conversations while they were checking out. There they were, trying to prop their cell phones on their shoulders while swiping their cards and signing the little electronic screen. And I was thinking to myself, wow, these yoga pants-clad ladies must be diplomats or surgeons or something Very Important, but all I overheard were snippets of "oh, she is such a drama queen" and "I know, he was all... and I was all... and can you freakin' believe that??"
And this got me thinking: While it is a breach of common-sense manners to talk on your cell phone during an entire check-out transaction, of course there is the rare instance when the conversation just can't wait. There are people in the word who are That Important, whose work is That Essential - and then there are the rest of us, who, from time to time, to have to respond to personal emergencies.
Take me, for example! Only six weeks ago, I myself was having a pretty urgent cell phone conversation in a grocery store in northeast PA, and while I wasn't yet in the checkout line, I was standing in Aisle 17, and anyone walking by me overheard this: "...so the fire is how close?... is there any fence left at all?.... wow, thank you, I'm glad to hear you were able to save my house... the keys are on the shelf above the stove, yes, please DO move my in-laws' car out of the carport!..." At which point, I walked away from my full cart and right out the door so we could drive back home and deal with this Very Bad News.
I polled my Facebook friends, asking what, upon overhearing one side of the conversation, would appear to be so pressing that you'd be inclined to forgive this violation of the social code. Some highlights:
- Holy crap, the test was positive??
- Do you know how to make a tourniquet?
- I'll be there in ten minutes with a blanket and a shovel...
- It'll be OK - just cover it up till I get home.
- Listen, I've already told Barack and Hilary that...
- Don't try to put the fire out yourself!
- OK, first, make sure the autopilot is disengaged, then...
- Wait, how close is the funnel cloud?
- STEP BACK from the ledge- you have much to live for!
Feel free to add your suggestions in the comments...
So yes, I am well aware, there are times when the conversation just can't wait. To the grocery store employee who had to replace my cart full of items on the shelf, I apologize. It really was an emergency! But we should all be mindful of what can wait, and what can't. And "She is SUCH a drama queen" can probably wait.