The trainer’s hand slapped the horse’s backside and we were off. Scotty went from a trot to a canter in two strides. How was I supposed to stay on him at this gait? I suddenly forgot everything I had learned as my knees burrowed into the horse’s side. I knew if I fell off this beast at the current pace, I would break my neck. I tugged on the reins and…
“Hi, can I join you?” my coworker asked.
I looked up from my Kindle and saw my colleague standing there with his lunch tray in one hand and his iPad in the other. Impressive. I would never be able to balance both at once, especially with that huge glass of soda positioned in the left-hand corner.
“Yes, of course,” I said, sitting up a bit straighter. “I was just reading. I’m in the middle of a gripping scene.”
“No worries. My friends are visiting from D.C. this weekend and I have to figure out where to take them for dinner,” he informed me as he set his tray down and turned on his device.
“Oh good, you are preoccupied, perfect,” I said with a smile. He laughed, taking a sip of his drink and started what looked like finger painting on his iPad.
Now, where was I…tugged on the reins and…
“Hey guys, is this where we are having lunch?” another coworker asked.
I looked up again to find another colleague of mine standing next to us while staring at her smart phone. It was just as well that she wasn’t regarding me at that moment since my eyebrows were lowered and my mouth pinched. I wasn’t frowning because of her. She was lovely, but I did want to finish reading this sentence at some point during my lunch hour.
“Yep, we’re both just finishing up some things over lunch,” I said.
“Cool, a tech lunch,” she said, taking a seat.
Is that what this was? I was about to ask her if that was a real term, but she had already started chuckling at whatever she was responding to on her phone. I bent my head to resume reading when I heard another coworker’s voice.
“Are all of you working during lunch?” a third colleague asked.
“No, we are just…having a tech lunch,” I said.
“Oh, I have some emails to respond to, do you mind if I join you?” she asked with a BlackBerry held at her side.
“No, please,” I said waving my arm like Vanna White, inviting her to take a seat. “Hey, where did you get the apple crumble?”
Before she could answer, the male colleague at our table had a more pertinent question.
“Does anyone know of a cheap, but good place for dinner in the Village?” he asked without averting his eyes or his fingers from his iPad.
“Try MenuPages,” was the unanimous reply.
After glancing around and taking a bite of our food, we settled in. We were enjoying our lunch hour together with our heads bowed. Or was it the illusion of being together while really having lunch with our devices? Is it out of habit and conditioning that we sit down with others during lunch? Do we merely seek warm bodies in order to disguise ourselves among the collective? Or do we crave both cyber and reality fixes? Speaking of craving, I’m finding myself concentrating more on that apple crumble than on my eBook. Please excuse me while I find some, reality beckons.
Tuesday, December 3, 2013
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
We have all been on the receiving end of a relationship set-up of some form or another. Usually a well-meaning friend, a colleague, a parent, crazy Aunt Bessie or sometimes even the nosey neighbor next door wants to meddle with your lovelife. However, I have never heard of your own cell phone getting involved until now – (traitor). They call themselves “smart” phones and I think these phones are starting to believe their own press.
Your phone’s only request is that you download the correct social networking App and it will take the reins from there. Of course, it will be inquisitive and ask you all sorts of prying questions… get to know how tall is too tall, how inactive is too inactive and if having Sarah Palin’s book Going Rogue on the nightstand is a deal breaker.
It all seems innocent, so you start to enjoy engaging with your phone on this level. You relish the idea that it takes an interest in whether you are attractive, smart, well-travelled and if you plan on paying your phone bill on time next month. It promises to let you know when your soulmate comes within 75 feet of you. In fact, you even agree on a code wherein it will start flashing, vibrating and ringing when it has found your perfect match. A weight has been lifted now that you have a trusted pocket friend that is scanning the streets for you.
Since you are making progress in your love quest, it is time to make some headway with your laundry. You painstakingly shove every last item of dirty clothing into your laundry bag, wipe your brow, and throw on some old sweats and torn T-shirt. You are not deterred by the slight drizzle while heading to the nearest laundromat a few blocks away. You don’t even fret that you were waiting too close to the curb for the signal to change and the car racing by splashed you with a wave of water. Being a bit sullied is nothing new while washing clothes. What is new is that while searching for coins in your pockets, your phone starts ringing and vibrating like a 1970’s motel bed gone turbo. You grab your flashing cohort and decipher that your heart’s desire is approaching. “Wait…what?” “Not now, not like this!” Your own panic prevents you from figuring out how to shut your phone down. A quick scan of the laundry room dispenses no hope of hiding. Your only option is to stuff your phone into your pile of clothing and act natural. The target in question pops their head into the establishment while holding their own flashing and ringing phone. You instantly understand why the two phones are in agreement that you would make a perfect match. You even start to smile until you catch your reflection in the opposing washing machine’s door. After a cursory glance around, your soul mate retreats and heads off down the street. Who cares if the lady next to you is staring at your vibrating socks on the table, you just lost out on your very own meet-cute.
Still not convinced by the not prepared and/or looking your best scenario? Okay, how about this? Discouraged about the laundry room incident, you are determined to never leave the apartment again without looking amazing. You spend an extra 20 minutes in the morning prepping before work. This in turn is why you are late and the reason you make a mad dash for the crowded elevator once you reach your office building. An attractive stranger holds the doors open and a few moments later your phone begins beeping and vibrating. What luck, theirs is also. You feel bold enough to say, “Your phone says that you like me.” The response is not what you expect, “What?” Then, “Hey Bob…no, I’m in the elevator…” as they answer their phone call turning slightly away from you. There’s no time to feel the full weight of your embarrassment since you just caught the eye of a fellow co-worker that is now desperately trying to cover up the racket their phone is generating. Referring to him as your “fellow co-worker” is being generous. This is your boss’s boss who can never remember your name. You don’t blame him for attempting to hide between two other people. Although, the squishing of his body into the corner like a trapped animal is a bit much. The thought that your phone could think this was a proper choice is confounding. While you are both desperate to silence your phones, you hear people clearing their throats. One even mumbles, “I thought there wasn’t reception in elevators.” And someone else replies with, “aw, the good ole days.”
Still feeling warm and fuzzy about all this? Fine, then, let’s explore one more possibility. Your first day back at work since enlisting your trusty phone hasn’t gone to plan. You were certain that your phone would signal you as you passed by the accounting department. In fact, you shake it a bit and double check that it is still on. Surely it knows that you would be well-suited for the accountant that periodically helps you with your expense reports. Nope. The rest of your day is uneventful, apparently there is no love lost at your firm. You can’t help but feel a bit let down as you descend into the congested subway station. Just then, out of nowhere your phone begins blinking and buzzing. Way off into the distance you see a tall man with his arm lifted high and his phone flashing also. He can’t see you yet since you are lost in a sea of bodies, but his raised arm is a beacon to follow. And what a herald he is! You give your phone a quick squeeze and thank it profusely. It does know what it is doing, it is smart! But wait, what’s this? Another arm has gone up. This one has a charm bracelet and manicured nails. The tall man sees her and makes his way through the crowd in her direction. Hey, wait a minute, this is your match! You promptly start pushing your way through the mass of commuters. An elbow to the chest and a stepped on toe means nothing if you can just cut him off in time. You are a mere 10 feet away when the unthinkable happens. Your cell phone’s battery dies. “Are you joking right now, he’s getting away,” you scream at your phone. You look up to find that the two flashing phones have met and so have the man and woman. You frantically yell, “I can’t believe this!” The two compatibles glance in your direction with an incredulous look usually reserved for crazy people before being swallowed up into a swarm of New Yorkers.
You slink off discouraged and grumbling about a charger. It’s not until you are tapped on your shoulder that you realize someone is trying to get your attention. This someone has an arresting smile and striking eyes. He mentions that you have dropped your book back there and that Ignatius Reilly is his favorite fictional character also. You decide to have coffee with him to discuss this further. The conversation turns into drinks and then dinner. When you finally take out your phone to see what time it is, you remember that it’s down for the count. That’s okay. You’ll let it know later that you no longer require its services and come to think of it, maybe you should let Aunt Bessie know also.