I was standing in line outside of traffic court, head bent, eyes downcast, trying my best to look apologetic. I was conducting a whispered conversation with a friend, trying not to let the rest of the line into my personal life. Suddenly, I was disrupted by a man who obviously didn't share my personal philosophy on public versus private phone conversations.
He seemed to be conversing with his wife. I was a little annoyed by his loud tone of voice, but he looked about sixty years my senior, so I figured it was only fair to respect his failing hearing. The man told his wife, in numerous loud, perhaps even yelled sentences, that he is standing in line at traffic court. "Yeah, so I'm here, standing in line. Yeah....exactly.....yeah so I'm here in line with my fellow criminals." At that point, he looked around the line to see who was chuckling at his lame humor. I too, looked around the line, and saw that nobody found him funny. I took pity on him and chuckled. He looked at me excitedly, then proceeded to tell his wife that people (he must have been seeing double) are finding him funny.
Tho conversation continued on for a while, and it was memorable enough for me to re-enact for my father later that day. I mentioned that there was something that struck me as odd, perhaps amusing, about the whole situation, but that I couldn't quite place it. My father's response was so on target I couldn't get over it.
"Some people still haven't figured out that it's no longer cool to have a cell phone."
Isn't it true? Similar to the way a new driver expects admiring eyes from all other drivers, as he has passed his road test, this man wanted us to know he recently bought a cell phone. Yet, just as the new driver fails to realize that all those other drivers have obviously passed their road tests also, the man failed to notice one key detail; his fellow criminals (his joke, not mine) were too busy making phone calls, texting friends, typing emails, and surfing the web, all on their cell phones of course, to notice his new toy.
It's kinda like my father's first email enabled device. Now, granted that old dinosaur was a far cry from today's sophisticated blackberries, PDAs and smartphones, but he was still able to knock the socks off of a lot of people who were still using their phones for nothing but phone calls. (For the children reading this, yes, there was a time, actually not that long ago, when a phone was just a phone. It wasn't a camera, web browser, mp3 player, texting machine, gameboy and phone all rolled into one!) Nowadays, a person with the oh-this-is-so-cool-I-can-get-email-right-on-my-cell-phone mentality is nothing but a fool.
Suddenly, with this realization, a lot of behaviors make so much more sense. The kid who hasn't figured out that many people have friends. The housewife who hasn't figured out that dishwashers are no longer a rarity. The guy who still thinks an Internet connection is up and coming technology. Often people are behind the times, and so all they want is to be noticed.
My proposed solution: give them the attention. After you inflate their ego a bit, feel free to show her that you also have a dishwasher.