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Cell Phones Kill You With Radiation!

If Only It Were True

This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, July 19, 2000.

Yesterday, I heard a woman address Congress. Her daughter and her daughter's friend had been killed by a driver who was talking on a cell phone at the time. You can fill in the rest, the tears, the pleas, the soothing syrup from the committeemen. Another parent had lost a son to another driver distracted by the cell phone. In fact, after running over the child, the man got out of the car still talking on the phone, still not focussed on what he had done. So prevalent has this problem become that four small towns in America have banned driving while using a cell phone. Good for them. I'm still under the impression it's law to have both hands on the wheel at all times when not shifting, but maybe I'm behind here.

I hope it passes nationally. You need only walk past an elementary school to be horrified by the parents dropping off their kids and tooling away one handed while they hold their phones to their ears. Eventually, two heroic parents will have an accident, or worse, hit a child. Then the recriminations. Then, the overkill legislation, then the crocodile tears. I have, as usual, a far better idea. Ban cell phones outright, make it a capital offense to own one. I am willing to bet there has never been a conversation held on a cell phone of any importance whatever. Well, that's not true. I have been in elevators with attorneys who discuss the details of their client's lives and cases as if nobody else was around, like opposing counsel. I have been in hallways with doctors discussing mundane but disgusting medical procedures on the cell phone as if there were nobody else around, like a friend or relative of the patient. Sometime, there has probably been a life saved because a doctor could be called on the links or bar for advice. Mathematically, like alien life, you know it has to be. But I've never heard it.

Do you recall Lilly Tomlin's old Saturday night routine about pairing off all the crazy people on the streets so they'd have someone to talk to? It's happened. They have cell phones and they sit next to me on the bus, gurgling about how drunk they were last night, how great she was last night, how drunk they're gonna get tonight. I don't know if they're actually calling someone or just using the phone for a prop. Possibly both. Does it matter? Cell phones make us all those crazy people, talking into the air, annoying the people around you just as much or worse because the cell phone people stand next to you. They don't walk on blathering about the government or the aliens. They adhere to your side. And they talk as if nobody else can hear, or figure out what they're talking about. Mostly, I have heard the world's most boring people pick up their cell phone and have loud, one-sided conversations in inappropriate places. Not just movie theaters and church, but funerals, weddings, and where I'm working. People who own cell phones want everyone to know they have one, and spend much of their time looking around to see who is impressed, and speaking much louder than they would on a normal phone. And you know the content. Guess where I am? Did so and so call? Whatcha doin'? They're irradiating their brains for this? They're irradiating our brains for this?One of America's primary uses of the phone is a form of juvenile theater. You pick up the phone and call someone, not for the connection to that party, but for the audience you have with you in person. Teenagers do this all the time to indirectly tell the person they're with they have many friends and could date other people. The cell phone makes these horrible pageants inescapable. I can be behind the Flatirons, or deep in the woods, and hear babbling voices screeching into the phone sounding for all the world like the street people who also talk pointlessly into the ether in Boston and Manhattan, holding up their end of a conversation with someone only they can hear. And they talk so loud, just like a third world tourist screaming into American phones. And they sound so incredibly stupid. And often, while they are frying their brains, they're driving at you, one palsied hand on the wheel of their brand new SUV. "Oh Helen, hold on, something just hit the car........"