Tag Archives: cell phone

When it rains, it pours

Well, you know what they say, when it rains, it pours. Like I just got pulled over a few weeks ago for speeding. And when I gave the traffic cop my license, he ran in it his computer and came back, “Hey buddy, looks like you have a bunch of outstanding parking tickets.” And I just said to him, “Well, when it rains, it pours.” And he said, “Yep,” and then he impounded my car.


We were on the middle of the highway, and I asked him, “Hey officer, do you think you could give me a ride back into town?” and he said, “Well, I’m really not supposed to, but I guess, yeah, all right, you sure there’s nobody that can come and pick you up?” and I said, “No man, I think I accidentally left my phone in the car. Any way you could call up the tow truck and tell them to come back with my car so I can look for my phone?” And he was like, “No way man, just hop in.”

And he wouldn’t let me sit in the front, which, I guess I can understand, that’s his office, he was doing me a favor, he probably didn’t want to have to share his personal space, having me getting too cozy up front. But still, it felt weird sitting behind that glass partition, like I was some sort of a criminal. And I was just about to say to myself, wow, talk about raining and pouring, but I didn’t have time to coalesce my loose thoughts into a complete sentence, because the police radio started going off, the dispatcher shouting out all of these codes, the cop up front yelled to me, “Hang on!” and he hit it, the sirens, the lights, we made an abrupt U-turn and gunned it.

I could tell something huge was up, because all of these other cop cars started joining us, all of us headed in pursuit toward the same direction. I wanted to ask what was going on, but the cop was pretty busy, he was talking into his car radio, and then into another walkie-talkie on the side, all of it in this indecipherable police language of letters and numbers. I looked down at my watch. I was supposed to be at work right now, and my boss already gave me a huge speech about showing up on time. Would I even be able to explain something like this? I could already hear him cutting me off halfway, telling me all about how he’s not interested in excuses.

When it rains it pours, right? Right, but even though it felt like it was pouring, this wasn’t even a light drizzle yet. Because we pulled up to the factory warehouse type building far away from any part of the city I’ve ever been to, and there were like a ton of cop cars there, all of them sirens on, every officer standing by his or her driver’s side door, waiting to make a move.

I guess it could have been worse. By the time we arrived, most of the action must have already gone down. So I’m glad I didn’t have to be there for anything violent. Still, I did kind of wonder what was taking so long, how much more time I’d have to spend in this backseat. And of course the car door wouldn’t open up from the inside. And finally after like forty or fifty minutes, I started to feel really cooped up in there, like I just wanted to stretch my legs, take a breath of fresh air. I knocked on the window but my cop either couldn’t hear me or he was ignoring me. I kept knocking, and after thirty seconds or so, another cop from another car took out his nightstick and hit it against the window, mouthing me to, “Shut the hell up!”

He had it all wrong, I wasn’t the bad guy here. Sure, I wasn’t completely off the hook, I mean, there was the whole issue of those unpaid parking tickets and my car being in some impound lot somewhere. There was that, yeah. But I wasn’t under arrest. If only I could get that cop’s attention again, maybe I could mouth to him something like, “You’ve got it all wrong.” But when it rains, it pours, you know? So that didn’t work. Now everybody was ignoring me.

Maybe an hour or so later, all of these cops started coming out of the building leading all of these obviously bad guys with their hands cuffed behind their backs. One after the other, there had to have been close to fifty men. Were they gang members? Was this some sort of a meth lab? I had nothing to go on other than how everyone was dressed, wife-beaters and sleeve-tattoos. They weren’t good guys, that much was obvious.

Finally, the door next to me opened up, but before I had a chance to get out and see if I could maybe borrow a cell phone to call a cab to pick me up wherever it is that we were, three of those bad guys got shoved in the back with me. So there we were, four of us, it was really too tight, and then a different cop got into the driver’s seat and started driving.

“Hey!” I tried grabbing this guy’s attention, “I’m not supposed to be in here. Can you let me out? Did you talk to that other cop?” And he just ignored me. But the guys to my right, they looked pissed. One of them just kept glaring at me, like if I had any reservations about these guys being bad guys, that all went out the window when this one guy made eye contact. I was thinking, come on dude, we’re all stuck back here, and you’ve still got to act like a crazy bad guy? Can’t you just give it a rest for like one second?

And then they threw us all in a holding cell, all while I tried to grab anybody’s attention, “Please,” I was begging anybody who passed me in the hallway, “This isn’t right. This is all a huge mistake.” But nobody paid any attention. Not until I got to where they book people. They took everything out of my pockets, my wallet, my cell phone. Fuck. My cell phone was right there the whole time. How did I miss it?

“I’m telling you, I got pulled over, my car got towed, and the officer was giving me a ride back into town. I promise, I had nothing to do with that bust or whatever it was.”

And finally the booking officer at least acknowledged me. He didn’t look at me, but he said to me, “That’s too bad kid. But the judge isn’t back until tomorrow. So you’ve got to hang tight until we can get this all straightened out.”

And it was crazy, this was absolutely nuts. And then when it was my turn to make my phone call, I connected with my boss for like a second, I wanted to tell him to call my wife, to send for help, something. But the line got disconnected right after he said, “Hello?” and I was like, “Hello? Hello?” and I looked to the officer watching the phones and said, “It dropped. The call went dead. I’m not supposed to be here. Can I have another quarter?”

And he just looked at me and said, “Nope.”

And I don’t have to say it again, right? The raining and pouring thing. But it’s true. It’s absolutely true. I can’t think of any other cliché phrase that more accurately describes what was going on.

My friends and I went to Atlantic City

My friends and I all went to Atlantic City a few weeks ago, and after dinner, we were hanging out at this one hotel, at night, they turn the whole pool area into this giant outdoor club. So it was pretty cool, it was early, but not too early, just early enough that there was still enough room to walk around, get a drink without having to elbow anybody out of the way.


Anyway, I planned this whole prank out way in advance. I told my buddy Steve, I said, “OK, so we’re going to throw Kenny in the pool. Cool?” And Steve’s always down for a dumb prank like that, always. In fact, I was doing everybody a favor by actually putting some thought into this. Because if things progressed naturally, Steve would have inevitably had one too many drinks, and he would have just gone for it, I’m telling you, somebody would have been thrown in that pool.

Which, don’t get me wrong, it’s a great joke, a classic. But you have to think about cell phones. Which sucks, because before cell phones, if there was a pool, it was just assumed that someone was getting knocked in. But everybody has an eight hundred dollar computer in their pocket now, it’s not cool. So I took Steve to the side and I said, “Great, so I want you to wait until Kenny is kind of close to the edge of the pool, and then I want you to kneel behind him and try to take his cell phone out of his pocket.”

“Well what if he catches me going for it?”

“Look, I’m going to distract him. I’m going to ask him to hold my drink or something, or I’ll be handing him a drink. So he won’t notice. And even if he does notice, he won’t have any hands to do anything about it. And if he makes a move, just yank it out, all right? Because that’s when I’m going to push him.”

And Steve loved it, he was like, “Ha! That’s awesome!”

But Steve didn’t know that this was only one layer to my plan. Because my real goal was to get Steve in that pool. Remember what I said before? About Steve always doing something stupid like that? Yeah, well I wanted to give him a taste of his own medicine. And so did Kenny. And Phil. Phil got pushed in last summer. It was a mess, he had his phone in his pocket. As soon as he got out, there was a big fight over who was buying him a new phone. And this is totally crazy, but Steve, that lucky bastard, he went on some sort of a gambling tear that night. Nobody knows exactly how he did it, but he made back the money, the eight hundred, enough to buy him a new phone.

But there was definitely a lot of bad blood, especially from Phil, so he was in on this too. His job was to, right after dinner, switch Steve’s phone with this old broken iPhone I had lying around the house. That way, when Steve wound up going in the pool, he’d pull this phone out, he wouldn’t know it wasn’t the phone from his pocket, and we could watch and laugh as he freaked out, we’d say stuff like, “Don’t worry about it man, just do what you did last year, go win yourself a new phone, you’ll be good.”

So it was all set up, Steve was kneeling behind Kenny, right by the edge of the pool, and that’s when Phil came out of nowhere and kicked Steve in, hard. Only, Steve had his hand in Kenny’s pocket, and, I don’t even know how he managed to hold on, but he did, and he pulled Kenny in with him.

“Shit,” I said to Phil, because that wasn’t part of the plan. “You switched the phones though, right?”

“Fuck no,” said Phil. He wasn’t smiling. “Seriously, let him win his own phone back this year. I fucking hate Steve.”

Yeah, this definitely wasn’t going according to plan. Then two security guards came out of nowhere.

“All right guys, everybody out.”

And that sucked too, because they didn’t kick us out last year. And now here we were, everybody stuck outside the club, none of the cabs would take us back to the hotel because Kenny and Steve were soaking wet.

Kenny pulled me aside and said, “Dude, give me Steve’s good phone. Let him take the broken one.”

“Man, Phil never made the switch.”

“What switch?” That was Steve, he heard everything because Kenny was talking way too loud.

More words were exchanged. Phil and Steve almost got into a fistfight. We got back to the hotel and Steve went straight to the casino to try and win back another phone. Phil was completely belligerent and disappeared, like we didn’t see him for the rest of the weekend. Meanwhile, Kenny just kind of stood there looking at me, “So what, I’m out of a phone?”

And yeah, I felt bad. This wasn’t at all how it was supposed to go down. But couldn’t we just win the money back? I mean, Steve did it last year, it’s not impossible, right?

“How much money do have on you?” I asked Kenny.

“I don’t know, like, two? Two fifty?”

“Perfect, me too. All right, so we’ll just double it, right away, five hundred on red at a roulette table. Come on that’s enough right? And with my old broken phone, that’s got to be, what, I don’t know, fifty bucks? What’s that web site that buys broken phones?”

“You think it’s worth fifty bucks?”

“Yeah, there’s a huge secondary market for parts overseas …”

I’ll fast-forward a little bit. We got the cash. We put it on red. And it landed on one of the two greens. So they didn’t take all of the money, but they took half. I told Kenny, “Do it again, there’s no way that happens twice.”

And no, it didn’t happen again, it landed on black this time.

“Black,” the roulette lady said.


“Sir, please refrain from cursing on the floor,” That was the pit boss.

I was like, “Are you guys kidding me? Why’d you all get so strict this year?”

And that was it. I told Kenny I’d give him some money, but I don’t have eight hundred bucks, and so I guess I’ll just give him like fifty bucks every week for a while, I don’t know, I don’t think it’s fair that I have to pay for the whole eight hundred, I mean, he was in on it too, and so was Phil. But nobody’s heard from Phil. Nobody’s really heard from anybody. That was like three weeks ago and nobody’s really talked at all, not except Kenny and me, and that’s strictly business, nothing but cell phone stuff. Man, I’m thinking the whole trip was a bust, I don’t know, I don’t really see how any of us moves forward from here. So that sucks, and even if we do wind up hanging out again, I definitely doubt anybody’s going to be down for AC again next year.

Thoughts on the new iPhone

Are they going keep naming new iPhones based on the numerical order in which they’re released? Right now everything’s fine because we’re only up to iPhone 5. But what about years from now? Are consumers really going to be as excited for the iPhone 36? Hopefully I’m still alive by then. Also, hopefully scientists will have figured out a way to keep everyone looking young and healthy indefinitely, kind of like in that movie In Time with Justin Timberlake, just minus all of the massive inequality and social injustice, not to mention the terrible storytelling and horribly overdone time puns, “Time’s up,” stuff like that.


What am I talking about? Nobody saw that movie. But back to the iPhone. We’re all ignoring the fact that it went right from iPhone to iPhone 3G. What happened to the iPhone 2? And then after that it was 4 and then 4G and then 5 and now 5G and 5C. Talk about a horrible naming strategy. I’ve heard all sorts of theories, how the C is supposed to be for China, because they’re trying to get Chinese people to not only manufacture iPhones, but to buy them as well. But when I hear 5C, all I think of is the word cheap.

Like, “Oh, I see you bought the cheap one.” Why would you want a plastic phone? Why would you want a neon pink iPhone? Although, that’s a pretty stupid thing to say on my part. I shouldn’t be in the business of judging people’s preference in colors. I am a little disappointed by the fact that there really isn’t much of a selection. Not that I’m interested in buying the cheapo model anyway. It’s just that, what if you’re not into really bright colors? I guess for me it never really mattered anyway, seeing as how I never take it out of its plastic protective case.

While I’m on numbers, isn’t anybody else going to point out the obvious incompatibilities with model number and operating system? I’m talking about how when they released the 5S/C, they simultaneously made available the new operating system, IOS 7. Can’t the boys in marketing figure out a way to synchronize the numbers? I’m being petty here.

I just get annoyed whenever a new product comes out and everybody starts gushing over it, the media, everyone at work, people on the subway. And then like a week after it comes out, I start to see them everywhere, new iPhones, shiny new colors, slightly different ringtones and message alert sounds. I took out my phone the other day, and a coworker was like, “You didn’t upgrade to IOS 7 yet?” looking at me like I had just contracted leprosy.

And so I went right home and downloaded IOS 7. And it took like an hour and a half out of my day, plugging it in, waiting for it to download and install, laying on my bed going through all of the menus and settings, discovering which marginal changes had been made to my phone’s user interface. The whole thing left me very underwhelmed, and now I was holding my same old iPhone 4, only it felt less comfortable, my old bright wallpaper was no longer compatible with the white numbers used to tell me the time, but of course Apple wouldn’t give you an option to change the color of the home-screen text.

Or let you decide if you like the old interface better. And I know it’s such a tired argument, that Apple doesn’t really let you customize anything. It does bother me, like the old operating system looked a certain way, and then all of the sudden Apple decides that they’d like mine, and everybody else’s phone, to look a different way. That would be like living in an apartment and the landlord busting in every year deciding to paint all the walls an entirely different color.

But it doesn’t matter. I have this fear that the minute you stop upgrading operating systems is the moment that you decide to get left behind in terms of technology. Sure, skipping one update won’t really get in the way of how you use a phone, but there are subtle changes with every release. You let those changes pile up, and before you realize it, you’re an old man that puts his hands on the newest model only to find that he doesn’t know how to use anything, he’s too set in his old ways.

This is crazy. It’s a fucking iPhone. I can’t believe I just spent all of this time actually writing this down. Sorry if you’ve made it all the way down here. New cell phone releases cause me an unnecessary amount of anxiety.

Phantom phone syndrome

There’s nothing more depressing than phantom phone syndrome. Everyone experiences it to some degree, you’re walking around, maybe you’re at work, and you feel your phone vibrate in your pocket. This happens to me all the time, I’m waiting tables, I’m going over the specials or grabbing a refill on a Diet Coke and I’ll feel it, the buzz-buzz in my pocket. And this sucks because at my restaurant, like at most restaurants I’m sure, you’re not really allowed to be on your cell phone while you’re on the floor.

cell phone pocket

But what am I going to do, go seven hours without checking my phone? That’s cute. Come on, I’ve got to check my phone. Who knows what kind of emails I’m going to get, or text messages. Maybe something big, something I’ll need to respond to right away. Probably not, but maybe. With the no cell phone thing, I’m limited to a couple of options.

One, I can try to duck away into one of the store rooms, like where they keep all of the liquor in the back, or maybe by the lockers. I’ll whip out my phone and … nothing. But I was sure I felt a tingle. It wasn’t imaginary, I definitely felt something, maybe I’m going crazy, maybe the phone company sends out phantom texts every once in a while to keeps its customers’ attention focused firmly on their cell phones.

And then maybe my boss will walk in, there’s a very real likelihood that the longer I’m hanging out back here, someone’s going to pass by, they’ll see me on my phone, it’s probably someone in charge. Are they going to write me up? Is this going to be like a formal, “Rob, we’ve caught you on your phone and now you’re officially in trouble,” type of deal? Or maybe they’ll give me one of those, “Ugh, Rob, come on, haven’t we been over this? This is really annoying, you guys always on your cell phones,” more unofficial admonishments, while I’m not technically getting in trouble, I’m still getting a once-for, I have to make eye contact and say, “I’m sorry, I’m really sorry, I shouldn’t have, I just, I’m sorry,” types of apology/thank-you-for-not-writing-me-up.

Back to work, back on the floor, try to pass by all of my tables, make sure that everything’s OK, “How is everything, OK?” and three of the people at the table smile or give me a thumbs-up or something, but that fourth person is chewing, and she gives me a weird look, I can just tell she’s already planning out what she’s going to write down on Yelp, something like, “Why do these stupid waiters always wait until I’m mid-bite to come over and ask if everything’s OK? I’m eating! I’m chewing! Ugh! These people are so stupid! Leave me alone!” and then I feel my phone buzz in my pocket again. This can’t be a phantom alert, I’m pretty sure I felt two specific, distinct vibrations, the “buzz-buzz” of a text message.

But I can’t risk the supply closet again, not tonight, definitely not tonight, in fact, I probably can’t risk getting caught in the supply closet again for at least another week, I can’t become a serial offender, an established slacking-off pattern emblazoned into the consciousness of my superiors. Imagining I got off with a warning that first time, this second time, “Two times in one night?” that’s definitely going to be a write-up, “Sign here please,” making me place my signature on a piece of paper, a confession really, an admission of guilt, yes, I was on my cell phone, not once, but twice tonight. Twice.

So I’ll go to the bathroom, definitely not an ideal environment to take an informal break, but whatever, at least the door locks behind me, there’s no chance of anybody catching me in the act. But remember earlier when I wrote that there’s nothing more depressing than phantom phone syndrome? There’s actually something much more depressing. It’s taking out your phone, realizing that despite the very tactile sensation of an electronic device vibrating in your pocket, there’s nothing on the screen, no alerts, no notifications. And then you get that sudden awareness that you’re standing in the stall of a public men’s room desperately searching for messages, for some sort of communication that simply isn’t there. It doesn’t exist. Nobody’s trying to get in touch with you. And you’re hanging out in the bathroom. That’s the most depressing thing I can think of.

The night drags along. I’ll feel more phantom buzzing here and there, but I’m not going to allow myself to fall for it again. Fool me three times, shame on me, right? But my cell phone is patient. Go ahead and don’t check me, it’s whispering, I’ve got tons of phantom buzz reserves. I’ll go off regularly. How does every ten minutes sound? You think you can get through the whole night without checking to see even once if somebody might have emailed or texted you something? Anything?

Buzz. Buzz. Buzz. Buzzbuzzbuzzbuzzbuzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

All right, there are still two hours left to go, and if I go to the bathroom one more time, I’m liable to set off some alarms, “Hey Rob, you might want to go to a doctor, you’ve been going to the bathroom an awful lot tonight.” Nobody would ever say that to me, because it would be painfully obvious what I was really up to, checking my phone. And there are only so many men’s room visits I can stomach during a single shift.

Plan C is for when I’ve exhausted all other options. It’s about hiding in plain site. I try to get to a computer terminal ideally situated ten to fifteen feet away from the manager on duty. I want to be looking right at the boss, huddled over the screen, making it appear as if I’m hard at work. And that’s when I casually reach my left hand around my back to grab the phone out of my right pocket. I slip it in front of the restaurant computer and go about my business as if there is no phone at all.

But, and I can’t believe this, nothing? No messages? No texts? I definitely felt something. I open up the Twitter app. Zero notifications. Facebook. Nope. I’m looking on my scheduling app, my calendar, all the useless apps that I never open up or use. Which one of you is making my phone buzz? What’s going on?

I jerk my head up. Where’d the manager go? Shit. He’s to my left. He’s making a beeline. Did I get lost? Was I at the terminal for too long? I must have been. I must have been swiping between menu pages too aggressively. Is it too late to get my phone back in my pocket? It’s too late. He’s two steps away so I put my phone on the counter and cover it with a tip tray.

“Rob is everything OK?”

“Yeah boss, I was just checking to see if I’d entered in table twelve’s desserts.”

“That’s it? You looked pretty concerned.”

“Yeah boss, that’s it.”

And that’s when the phone buzzes underneath the tray, audibly. It’s actually louder, like the buzzing phone made the tip tray buzz a little too, and it’s vibrating, it’s actually moving slightly across the counter.

“Rob. Come on man. Again?”

And what can I say? “Boss, it’s not what it looks like. It’s a phantom buzz. It’s not really buzzing at all. Trust me, you’re brain’s playing tricks on you. Sir, we’ve got to be careful, spending too much time online, on the phone. You get that, right? Phantom phone syndrome? That’s a real thing, right? I’ll send you an article I read about it online. I’m totally serious here, it’s all in your head, for real.”

My compliments to the driver

I read this article in the newspaper a few weeks ago about people who call up New York City’s Taxi and Limousine Commission to take the unusual step of complimenting their driver. I say unusual not because it should be unusual to commend someone for a job well done, but because, as the article even points out, most people in this city, all they ever do is complain, about everything. There are like eight million people here trying to coexist on top of one another, but if your taxi driver doesn’t feel like making the trip from midtown Manhattan to Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, it’s straight to the TLC web site where, “filing a complaint about a taxi driver” is searched for so frequently, it’s earned a spot prominently on the home page.


But compliments? They’re apparently few and far between, but they do happen. And so I decided, from now on, every time I take a cab, I’m going make a point to go to that web site and give that person a compliment. Why not? I can imagine how awesome it would be to get a random compliment from a total stranger, a “job well done” message from somebody that took the time to pass on a little positivity.

Anyway, last week I took a cab. It was fine. I’m not one of those cab passengers that gets in the car and tries bonding with his driver. Every once in a while I’ll be in a taxi with somebody else, and they’ll be all like, “Hello! How are doing today? That’s wonderful! Where are you from?” and they continue to force conversation out of this weird social hostage situation. I always feel bad because, look, there’s nowhere for this guy to go. And besides, shouldn’t you be leaving him alone to concentrate on his driving? What if he’s new to the city? Do you think he really feels like regaling you with tales about his homeland? Of course not. He wants to drop you off, as soon as possible, so he can repeat the process as many times as his shift will permit.

Like I said, this cab ride was fine. I got in the car and made sure to say, “hello.” Nothing bothers me more than when you’re forced to have an interaction with somebody, and instead of saying hello, they just start barking orders at you. Like if I were a cab driver, and some guy got in, and he just, right away was like, “Take me here,” I think it’s the equivalent of a waiter going up to a table and saying, “Hello, how’s it going today?” and the person won’t even look up, they’ll just snap, “Diet Coke.”

He was talking on his cell phone. He didn’t acknowledge me when I said hi. I wasn’t even sure he heard where I asked him to take me, but I got there, so it didn’t matter. Of course I was a little bothered about the cell phone thing, but I tried not to rush to judgment, mainly because he was talking in a foreign language, and for all I knew, he could have been on the line with his wife overseas, maybe she’s on a boat somewhere, and the boat just collided with another boat, a bigger boat, and they’re in the middle of an ocean somewhere. And it’s certain death, so right before she gets dragged down to the abyss, she calls her beloved in America, and he’s like, shit, I can’t stop working, I can’t, I’ll get fired, my mother will starve to death, all of my brothers and sisters, I can’t stop. And so he’s on the phone, telling his dying wife that they’ll be together in eternity, all while he’s trying to act natural in front of me, in front of his passenger, nervous that I’ll send in a complaint to the TLC, that he might get reprimanded, or fined.

And that’s just one potential legitimate reason for talking while driving. I could come up with at least ten more, right now. I won’t get into them, but they’re all at least somewhat valid. He dropped me off. I left a good tip. And then I went home and logged onto the city’s web site. Damn, it was hard to locate the compliment form, but I found it. And it was kind of tough actually, to come up with convincing praise, seeing as how most of what I knew about this cab driver, it wasn’t based on any actual relationship with him, but mainly a result of my wild imagination, me dreaming up various reasons as to why he’s in this country, why he’s driving a cab, again, why he was on his cell phone.

I don’t remember what I wrote exactly, because it was one of those form boxes on the web site, and I didn’t copy and paste it, and so once I submitted it, that was it, it was gone. And then like a week later I got an email from the TLC, it said, “Thank you for contacting the TLC. Your complaint has been filed, and disciplinary action will be taken immediately.”

I was just like, did I leave a complaint? I thought I concocted this whole story about him stopping on the bridge to help another motorist change a flat tire. And I wrote that he was very apologetic, to me, but I said, hey man, it’s cool, you go do what you got to do, and he was cool about it too, like he turned off the meter while he was helping out, and then when we finally got going again, he continued to apologize, but I was like, no man, it’s good, I get it, you’re a good guy, and then he reached over into the glove compartment and took out a pack of these chips, they were definitely foreign, like maybe he bought them at some ethnic grocery store, but I accepted them, they weren’t bad, they were crunchy, interesting flavors. Again, I don’t remember the specifics of exactly what I wrote, but I don’t know how the TLC would’ve misinterpreted anything that I said as a complaint, as a reason to take disciplinary actions. Fucked up, right?