Friday, 6 December 2013

Lawyers & politicians - taking calls on the train to Footscray.

Travelling home last night I was reminded why my heart sank with the recent news that aviation authorities are considering lifting the ban on the use of mobile phones on aircraft.

Just in front of me a bored looking young woman, dressed in a chain store suit, pale blue shirt and adorned with fake pearls, made a call.  She was like, oh-my-god, like, describing how awful her job is? But also how, like, busy she is and she just realised - oh-my-god - they'd be stuffed without her. To add to the charm of this inane public conversation, her voice had a particular quality; it struck right at the heart of my brain - loud, piercing and monotonous. She stared into space and her lips barely moved as she spoke.

She's working at a law firm. Two of the clients are witnesses in the royal commission looking at churches who abused kids and stuff, you know, whatever that things is.  Oh my god. She rolled her eyes and looked at her phone. Thankfully she had fallen victim to the mobile phone black spots on the train line to Footscray and the call had been terminated. We had all been spared. Not for long. Her phone soon rang and the conversation continued.

A whole bunch of documents had been delivered to the law firm and they had just sent them over to the barrister, thinking all the documents were in the order on the index, but then they weren't!

The call cut out again. Another brief reprieve for the rest of us.

This happened 10 more times.  I wouldn't have the patience for that. I'd send a text and tell the other person that I would call when I arrived home and could talk in privacy.

Just before Footscray, a phone rang behind me and a woman answered.
"What? Oh crap! Is that man, whose name I can't mention because I'm on a train, being obstructive? I thought we had the support of the Minister and the Secretary on this! .... Is Lucy there? Well, she's such a B - I - T - C - H!'

I felt like turning around and telling her that we could all spell.

This was the atmosphere in the train carriage for about 15 minutes and it was unbearable. Can you imagine being on a long haul flight for twenty or so hours and being subjected to other people's endless phone conversations?

I'm sure that if you were sitting next to me on a train or a plane and I was engaged in a conversation on my mobile phone, I would come across just as awfully as these two women.

I remember once sitting on a tram and a woman opposite me was issuing directives to someone on the other end of her phone. It was like sitting in a meeting at work and at the end of a long day at work, the last thing I wanted was to feel like I was still there. I didn't say anything verbally, but my body language must have been telling her to shut up! She interrupted her call and asked me if I had a problem. I told her that I did actually and that I probably wasn't the only one.  People around me started to nod, so I continued, telling her that we had all finished work for the day and didn't care to sit in her meeting.

She looked stunned and was about to push back when other people nearby gave me a round of applause!  She hung up and then gave me some body language to let me know she was not happy. The rest of the tram was though!

I've noticed since I updated the software on my iphone, I can send a text with the push of a button if I don't want to or can't answer the phone. Why can't people wait until they have some privacy and can also be considerate of others? Or why can't they be witty, erudite and speak in melodious tones? Perhaps we really do live in a post-privacy world.

What do you think about allowing mobile phones on planes? Do you answer your phone in public and talk at length? Are any subjects off limits?

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