Saturday, October 04, 2003

A little too intimate

I was on a number of airplanes this past week. Airplanes haven't changed much in the last several decades. What has changed is the number of people using cell phones on planes either before or after the flight.

On one flight, I was seated next to a businessman. He was probably in his 50s and dressed like he belonged in first class rather than in row 17. I greeted him when he sat down beside me, but he ignored me, pulled out his cell phone and dialed a number.

"Yes, Fort Wayne, Indiana. I need the number for the St. Mary's nursing home. OK, 123-555-1234. Thank you." He wrote the number on a small pad.

He dials the number he wrote down. "Hello. Yes, this is Bob Smith. I am calling to inquire about the condition of Ann Smith. Yes, thank you."

He is on hold, and after about a minute he is apparently talking to a doctor or a case worker, because I get a complete dump of Ann Smith's condition as questions and answers and clarifications go back and forth. When he switches the phone to his left ear, I can actually hear both parts of the conversation at times. Finally a flight attendant tells him to hang up so we can leave the gate, and he disconnects.

So.... Now what? I know his name, how he's doing with the impending loss of Ann Smith, and most of the major details of her illness along with her prognosis. I haven't really had a choice in receiving all this data. On an airplane he is sitting literally three inches away from me, so I get to listen in whether I like it or not.

What do I now say to him? "How's Ann?" We end up not saying a word to each other the entire flight.

If I was mischievous, I could publish all of the data here. I suppose I could call the nursing home up, impersonate Bob and talk directly to Ann, or her doctor. Obviously I am not going to do that, but it would be easy for anyone overhearing his call to do it. On the flip side, I could send Ann flowers and a note expressing my sympathy. She's definitely deserving of my sympathy given what I now know, but how weird would it be to get flowers from a total stranger?

Given a choice, I really would prefer to have never met Bob, or Ann, in this much intimate detail. What's strange is that this experience is becoming more and more common.

Ann in Fort Wayne, you are in my prayers.

* All names and details changed

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home
ARCHIVES © Copyright 2003-2005 by Marshall Brain


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?