Managing Mobile Misuse

One of my readers is a lady by the name of Joan. I call her Joanie and she is just the greatest. She lives in Brisbane and is in her 80’s. We email each other most Fridays, just checking in. She will often comment on my week, seeing that I blab it out here most days. I consider Joan to be fairly progressive, given some of the colourful language that sometimes slides out of my fingertips.

Anyway, the other week, she wanted to know why Dad hadn’t blogged for a while. So I passed that on to Dad, who asked me to ask Joanie what she wanted him to blog about. And she said… “Surprise me!”

So my darling Joan, this one is for you. From Dad.

As a shareholder in Telstra, I love seeing persons of all ages poking and prodding away at their mobile phones; adjusting their earphones; wrestling with the latest screen game; or chuckling loudly at some unseen third party conversationalist. All are revenue producing for Telstra.

If only it would stop there.

I have some pet peeves resulting from selfish mobile phone users in public places and on public transport.

My dominant pet peeve is the sound of the booming tone of some executive coming home by public transport, who should have stayed at work until he or she had tidied up the loose ends there before returning to home and connubial bliss.

Rather than stay at work, he or she invariably insists upon emphasizing their importance to the nation’s economy by letting all and sundry situated within ten metres know the nature of their business endeavours and how successfully they have been in fulfilling them on that day.

Another is the visiting young overseas student or worker from the Old Dart who uses his or her time on the 30-minute morning ferry ride from Manly to Circular Quay to ring Mum and Dad at dinner time over there, apparently convinced that to make themselves heard they must speak and laugh very loudly, given their Antipodean location, in order to make themselves heard at such a distance.

Again, passively and without much effort, one can glean from such persons the most intimate details of recently completed and planned future social activities of both an intimate and general kind.

Much as one tries to ignore or rationalize these distractions, it is very difficult.

Whilst these days, having reached three score and ten, I am more sanguine about these situations, I have nevertheless witnessed the odd ugly scene where threats have been by an affronted person to deposit these mobile phones in some very inconvenient and painful places should the perpetrator not cease and desist.

Occasionally, and in spite of clear warnings to the contrary, mobile telephones sometimes ring in some very awkward locations and situations.

These include occasions such as when a golfer is poring over a difficult put; a tennis player preparing to serve for set point; at a marriage ceremony as one or other partner prepares to whisper the momentous words “I do”; or as the villain is about to be revealed in a climactic movie or play with 1500 persons present.

I recently however experienced travelling and mobile phone Nirvana , defined as “the passionate peace of imperturbability, attained through the annihilation of disturbing desires”.

Following a weekend in Leura, I entrusted my bride with the family limo and made my way to Leura Railway Station to catch the morning train as I had an appointment in the City.
There are two early morning fast trains to Sydney from the Blue Mountains – they are delightfully called “The Fish” and “The Chips”.

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The ‘Fish’ train was originally and cleverly so-called because the driver’s name was Mr Salmon; the fireman was Mr Trout and guard Mr Pike (Information found in the manuscript papers of Cunningham Henderson 1864-1950).

Whether these facts were apocryphal or not, It was therefore natural for its partner train to be called “The Chips”.

Being a gregarious fellow, I struck up a conversation in the early morning mist with Maurice, the Acting Station Master at Leura.

He told me most conspiratorially that a gentleman such as I might find it more comfortable and convenient to travel in the first two or the last two carriages on The Fish.
Taking his advice, and waving a grateful farewell to Maurice as I did so, I boarded carriage Number 1, and found that it was designated a “Quiet Carriage”.

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This meant that anyone who even looked like activating a mobile phone was stared at and if necessarily hissed at with the enthusiasm of readers in the Mitchell Library or the Opera House who detected such antisocial behaviour.

The journey to Central was as blissful as a trip on the rattler can be, with the most dominant sound was the turning of the pages of The Sydney Morning Herald.

One could occasionally look out the window to see the Western Suburbs morphing from green fields into McMansions and finally inner city terraces and finally into Central Station, a mysterious and bustling reminder of the great bygone days of rail travel.

Thank you Maurice, from a grateful gentleman, confident, nay optimistic that Telstra shares will still help fund his future retirement, as not everyone likes quiet carriages.

And thank you Dad. And thank you internet, for continuing to bring random people together.