Thursday, 18 August 2011

Mobile Madness

"All jackets and backpacks on the floor, and turn your mobile phones off," I tell my students, holding up my own so they can see it. "I'm turning mine off right now."

I press the button that turns my phone off and put it on my desk. My students quickly pull their phones out of their bags and pockets and switch them off. I distribute the test papers and the examination begins.

Five minutes later, I am halfway down the aisle distributing extra paper when there is a blast of guitar music and Merle Haggard begins singing California Cotton Fields. This is my ringtone partly because my kids have a sense of humor, but mainly because I happen to love Merle Haggard. I don't love him singing during this examination, though. Cheeks flaming, I race down the aisle and answer my phone, cutting off Merle. It's from my husband. "Mary?" I hear him saying. "Are you all right?"

"Exam!" I whisper angrily. "Can't talk!" I hang up on him and this time manage to turn off my phone properly.

My students grin, but I am incensed. How dare my husband call me during class time? He knows my schedule! He knows I'm giving exams all afternoon today. If I called him when he was giving an exam, he'd have a fit and rightly so.

"Why did you call me this afternoon?" I ask him when we meet up after work. "You knew I was giving an exam!"

My husband gives me a funny look. "I only called to answer the two calls you made to me during my morning class," he says hotly.

I feel my chin drop. I pull out my phone and check my call record. And there they are: two calls I apparently made to my husband this morning. But how can this be? My phone was lying in my backpack all morning; I never even touched it. How could I possibly have called him?

"I didn't call you!" I tell him. "I never went near my phone all morning."

My husband gives me his extremely irritating oh you and your problems with machines! look.

When we get home, I am cooking dinner when Merle Haggard starts to sing again. "Answer that for me!" I beg my husband, but by the time he finds my phone it has stopped ringing.

No sooner do I go back to my pots and pans than it starts up again. My husband groans and picks it up.

"It's from me," he says, wrinkling his forehead as he pulls his mobile phone out of his pocket. "My phone appears to be calling yours..."



Chocolatesa said...


Robin said...

Hahaha! My kids call these "butt calls" - the theory being that you inadvertently push the call button when you sit on the phone which is in your back pocket. I do it to certain people all the time. These are usually people on my "starred" page - you only have to tap once for the call. My mom asked me to take her off the starred page and I said I did, but I really didn't. Tee hee!

Charles Gramlich said...

oh no, they're talking behind your backs. Wow.

Vijaya said...

Too funny, except it would annoy me no end.

I've just joined the ranks of cell phone owners since we moved across the country and I got the most basic phone possible. You know the first call I got? From a salesman. Arrrgghhh.

I'm getting used to having an electronic leash. It's come in very handy talking to agents (the other kind ... for housing) but I refuse to carry it when I take a walk or go to Mass.

Anonymous said...

Our first mobile came with a command for locking the keys so butt calls didn't happen. Our current phones are flip phones (I feel so like Jim Kirk everytime I open mine -- "Two to beam aboard, Scottie") but it does prevent accidental calls. I suspect flip phones are seriously passe, but I'm used to being far behind the curve.

Kit said...

I used to love my flip phone for that very reason... but it broke and then couldn't be replaced.
But maybe your phones just have a separate relationship ... perhaps you could ask them to text each other instead?!

MG Higgins said...

Ha! I've never had this happen, but I can see how it could. (The kids in your class must have enjoyed your faux pas.)

Anne Spollen said...

Yup, the kids here call it "butt dialing" -- unexpected cell phone dials.

Great story, Mary!

inluvwithwords said...

Hmmmm. Maybe it's a sign that you and your husband need to talk more ;)

Mary Witzl said...

Chocolatesa -- :o) It's funny now, but it was nothing but irritating at the time.

Robin -- "Butt calls" -- a good name for this phenomenon. I'm always calling people unintentionally by pressing the wrong button, but I've never managed it without using my fingers before. I'm still trying to figure out what happened; there's an element of Twilight Zone involved, I'm sure.

Charles -- Yes! Talk about feeling paranoid. My mobile phone definitely knows too much.

Vijaya -- It DOES annoy me no end! I hate having a mobile phone. I like your term for it, 'electronic leash' -- that's exactly what it feels like. How did our ancestors manage to cope without being able to stay in touch with each other at all hours of the day and night? My cell phone gets left behind all the time. If I went to mass, it would never be taken along.

Anne -- You are not behind the curve! My first mobile was a flip one -- I think. That's how out of it I am: I don't even remember. I believe part of it had to be pulled out if I wanted to talk on it -- that's not the same thing as being a flip phone, is it? (See? You're not behind the curve.)

Kit -- I think I need a flip phone now. If our phones texted each other, that would be better, as texts are cheaper. I wonder if they'd bother to punctuate and spell correctly?

MG -- My students enjoyed it so much I was almost glad it happened. There's nothing like the teacher making an ass out of herself to lighten up a bunch of miserable test-takers.

Anne -- Live and learn: I'd never heard of butt calls before writing this post. How scary.

InLuv -- No, we talk enough as it is. What's going on is between our phones, which appear to be conducting a not-so-clandestine romance.

Lisa Shafer said...

Yes, I agree with Robin. At school we call these "butt calls." We warn our students that the phones must be off so they don't make or get these.

However, I'm so glad that in your case, poetic justice was served. :)

(And, yes, it is I of Half-Vampire fame..... I'm back.)

Kim Ayres said...

Not heard of the term "butt calls", but yes, I've had calls like that from several people. Actually most of them tend to be "handbag calls"...

Bish Denham said...

Well, that made me laugh! This has never happened to me, but then, I have an old cellphone that has a flip-up top like a Star Trek communicator. "I can't lock on to ye Cap't!"

Besides which, I hardly ever use it.

Robert the Skeptic said...

We've each had that happen, well mostly Nancy who stuffs her phone down in her purse... where it gets jostled by all the junk she carries in there.

Once it called me and I got to listen in to a conversation between her and her father. I played clairvoyant with her when she got home. How could I possibly know what she was talking about, she puzzled?

Miss Footloose | Life in the Expat Lane said...

Marital strife over a butt call -- what would our grandmothers say?

My latest phone crisis was yesterday. I live in Moldova and last time I was in the US I bought a pay-as-you go phone to have on hand when I am there and so I can call from the airport when I arrive.

So, here I am, in Moldova, Eastern Europe, and it's time to put some more money on the thing, so I go online and register so I can pay online with a credit card. All done, I get the message saying they'll send me a text message with my password.

Problem: My phone doesn't work outside the US so I cannot turn it on to get the message.

Phone will be dead on arrival when I touch American soil again.

Mary Witzl said...

Lisa -- When I'm done with this semester (I'm hoping that will be today), I'll never need to carry my stupid mobile around again -- or so I tell myself. Others seem to feel it's something I'm required to have on my person.

I'm glad you're back; I missed your blog and your comments.

Kim -- Mine was a backpack call (weirder than butt or handbag calls since I wasn't carrying the backpack when the calls were made). It was like something out of Twilight Zone, seeing the proof that my phone had made those calls.

Bish -- I can't wait until I too can say that I have a mobile but hardly ever use it. I resent the fact that they're now required items. You can't even order groceries online without supplying a mobile number.

Robert -- You were lucky you didn't hear anything you didn't want to hear. A good friend of mine heard something she really shouldn't have heard when her husband's mobile inadvertantly called her a few years ago. These phantom calls seem to be quite common: mobile phones are devilish contraptions with minds of their own. And they all know too much.

Miss Footloose -- I sympathize; we had no end of headaches with our phones when we were living in North Cyprus. The network on the Greek side of Cyprus wasn't compatible with the Turkcell network on the Turkish side, so when some of us were over the border and needed to communicate with people on the other side, it was impossible.

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Pat said...

Fortunately you have young who will be able to sort it for you:)

Travis Erwin said...

Ahh .. even y'alls phones are in love and can't stay away from each other.

Carole said...

Wonderful. Nothing is better than to be proven innocent by a "same-as-scenario."