Some of you may remember a column I wrote a few months ago on my new Blackberry and how it quickly transformed me into one of those seemingly inconsiderate Blackberry users, whom I promised myself I would never imitate.
Well smart phones in general are still negatively affecting my life to this day in a whole different manner. On a regular basis, these phones are creating for me both potentially embarrassing and morally challenging situations in the form of pocket dials, and I don’t know how to handle them.
A combination of unprotected keypads and a laziness preventing the locking of them has me either receiving or making pocket-dialed phone calls at least once a week, but no matter if the call’s incoming or outgoing, the situation’s always tricky and awkward.
Of course, when it’s me making the calls, it’s never to one of my parents in the middle of the afternoon, for example. That would be too easy. They’d call me back, and I’d simply explain the mix-up. No harm, no foul. Instead, my pockets start making calls at incredibly inappropriate times, always to people whom I barely know.
The first week I had the phone I came home from a late-night grocery run, emptied my pockets and saw that I was in the middle of leaving a long voicemail for someone I interviewed earlier that day. Not only was he likely thrilled that I was calling when many people are in bed, but I’m sure he found the multi-minute documentation of me bringing in groceries, followed by the quick expletive when I noticed I had been “on air,” to be very informative and a worthwhile use of his time.
Each one of the calls I’ve made “from the seat of my pants” has been similar to that example, combining bad timing, an unfamiliar recipient and a long period of me being on the mic without knowing it, capped off with the sudden, usually R-rated outburst and a quick ending of the call. Sure, I always feel bad that I called someone so late – past the Larry David-declared cutoff for nighttime calls – but my first thought’s always “Did I say anything stupid in the last five minutes?” I never doubt that I did, but if we had a standard etiquette for pocket dials, I wouldn’t have to worry about it.
Being on the receiving end of a pocket dial is a unique opportunity. It’s the chance to be the proverbial fly on the wall for a few minutes at a time, and even though you rarely, if ever, hear anything interesting, there’s something about spying that makes this intriguing. I know because I’ve listened in a few times myself. Though my conscience always wins out eventually when I hang up the phone, I always feel entitled to a brief eavesdrop because of the numerous opportunities I’ve provided others to do it to me.
But with open-keyed smart phones so prevalent, and inadvertent calls equally common as a result, I think we’re long overdue for a standardized etiquette for these situations. Think of it like the “Geneva Convention” of pocket dialing; I’ll do the right thing and hang up promptly if you will do the same thing when I accidentally call. No more worries or awkward situations.
I think I’ve been lucky so far with pocket-made calls. I don’t believe I’ve said anything too embarrassing nor have I heard anything about which I’d have to testify in court. Yet with all the stupid things I say throughout the day, this luck could turn into misfortune rather quickly.
If everyone agreed to play by the same rules though, including me, it would be one less thing I have to worry about, and one less potential problem caused by my stupid smart phone.
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