Saturday, January 15, 2011

Cell Phone Rant

Can we talk about cell phones? I'm not sure when exactly the law was passed stating that I have to have a cell phone on my person at all times, answer it each and every time it rings, no matter how inconvenient or impossible that may be, and answer all my messages the second that icon pops up. (Assuming I know what the icon even means.) As my mom says, "I have a phone for my convenience, not so I can be on-call at all times." I have friends. I have a phone. I like to talk to my friends, on my phone. If you have my number, chances are good that I like talking to you. (Visa, obviously I don't mean you. I'm sure you get that a lot. Sorry.) But I think things would be a lot easier for all of us if we establish a few rules.

1. I own a phone. You have possession of my phone number. Knowledge of my number does not entitle the holder to claim sole possession of my time/schedule/priorities/ability to remember to charge my phone. Sometimes I just can't talk at that very second, but I will be delighted to talk to you another time. You know, unless you're Visa. And sometimes I just have no idea where my phone is.

2. If I don't answer the phone, please don't be alarmed. Or offended. Especially not offended. I really can't handle one more "discussion" about how I'm deliberately not answering your calls. First of all, if you know me at all, you know I tend to lose things. My phone is no exception. And secondly, if you don't know me at all, why are you even calling me? And another thing: calling me again 30 seconds after the first attempt and still not getting an answer really isn't giving me a sporting chance. Aside from which, you're arguing with me NOW. That's kind of an indication that I DID answer your call. Eventually. See? Not avoiding you!

3. Voice mail. My message clearly states that it's unlikely that I'll even remember how to check my messages. That is assuming I can find my phone. If you choose to proceed at that point, don't be surprised when I don't remember how to check my messages or can't find my phone. In fact, just go ahead and assume that's what happened when you don't hear from me.

4. Texting. I don't know if there's something wrong with my thumbs. I think maybe they didn't evolve adequately for life in this century. I don't know. But I don't seem to be able to text very quickly. And in fact, I am just barely getting past my resistance to the entire concept. (I still think texting is like reverting to the telegraph.) For one thing, when you speak to me, I have no idea that you can't spell and I don't get distracted by it. Chances are I'm going to pay more attention to what you're actually saying if you just TALK to me. You know, with your voice? Otherwise I'm going to be busy thinking, "Why do so many people think "definitely" is spelled with an "a"? Plus when I spell things wrong, as I sometimes do, or finally break down and force myself to abbreviate and write "u" instead of "you", I feel on some level I'm disappointing my English teachers. And I've got enough guilt already, thanks. So please be patient. I'm trying!

5. Texting again. As mentioned, I'm not very quick with the texting thing. If you send me a text and then send me ANOTHER text while I'm still trying to answer the first one, and then I either have to forget finishing this answer and skip to the next one, or quickly finish and send it, knowing full well you've moved on to another thought...try not to be surprised or confused when I respond to your text "Where should we meet for dinner?" with, "Because the vacuum is on fire and also I lost the chicken. Again." Actually, from me that answer shouldn't surprise you under any circumstances, but especially if you get it via text.

6. Texting yet again. I know people like the texting option because it allows them to send a message somewhat privately, thus sparing unfortunate bystanders the graphic details of their conversations. A quick text may be necessary now and then, to the kids or the spouse, or whomever. But I've been with people who are so absorbed in their texting it's like spending time with someone who's only half there. If that. If you're with me and you're texting someone else throughout dinner, through the movie, etc. the message I'm getting is, "I'd rather talk to this other person right now, so you just go ahead and sit on the back burner until I have time to talk to you." Seriously? I don't know anyone who enjoys being "multi-tasked". If you'd rather be talking to someone else, by all means, you go right ahead. Just don't be outraged when you come up for air and realize I'm no longer with you. Come find me when you're able to put the phone down. You know, the way I do for you.

7. Yes, actually, I do know my mailbox is full. Maybe I just don't know how to empty it. Or maybe I like keeping it full, just so I don't have to deal with new irate messages about how I never check my voicemail. And? Leaving messages on my voicemail complaining about how I never check my voicemail? How effective do you think that's going to be, really?

If you have any questions about these rules, feel free to call me.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

I May Have Watched Too Much TV

This week, I had an appointment to meet another doctor in my continuing quest for answers to questions like: This…thing on my esophagus and stuff in my lungs, any thoughts? Can you make it go away? Also, one day when I’m strolling around the neighborhood, is there a chance an alien is going to rip through my chest and scare the neighbors? (Ok, actually that would be kind of awesome. And potentially messy. And painful, probably. Never mind.)

While I was hiking the stairs of the doctor’s office (Unofficial Motto: “If you can survive the wait for the elevator then we’ll see you because clearly you are tenacious beyond words and we can use people like you in the billing department”) I kept thinking about the name written on my little appointment card: Dr. Douglas Ross. For real. I’m just going to admit, I was super excited to meet this man. Dr. Ross! Flawed but extremely appealing doctor on “ER” reruns by day, GEORGE CLOONEY by night!

After working my way through the obligatory new patient stuff, I wondered if I’d be able to calm down in time to give the nurse accurate information when he took my blood pressure. Then I realized how silly I was being. I’m sure they adjust for that when someone is meeting Dr. Clooney, um...I mean Dr. Ross, for the first time.

At last, the door opened and in walked Dr. Ross. First impression: I thought he’d be taller. And that he’d look more like George Clooney. All through question-and-answer time, I kept thinking: Wow. I thought the camera adds ten pounds, but obviously the magic of television has more tricks than I ever suspected.

Oh, I’m not saying this doctor was some Quasimodo-like gnome. In fact, he was so normal looking, I probably couldn’t have picked him out of a lineup an hour later. (I’m not particularly good at remembering a face.)

Finally, he gave me his diagnosis, reminding me that I was there for more than the possible meeting of a celebrity. “I’ve reviewed the reports and honestly I really don’t know what this thing is. I’d like you to see a thoracic surgeon and get his opinion about removing it.”

I’ll bet the real (ok, the fictional character) Dr. Ross could figure it out. I’ll bet he could do it in under an hour, too, especially if we cut out the commercials. In fact, he might even bring in Dr. Gregory House to consult and between the two of them they could come up with an answer in thirty sarcastic-quip-filled minutes. But I’m sure this Dr. Ross did his best. As is the case with most professions, it’s probably a lot easier if you have good writers.

I asked him for reassurance. “This guy isn’t going to meet me at the door with a scalpel, right? Because I really, REALLY don’t want any cutting to happen until we’ve exhausted all other options.” He assured me that I’d be treated as conservatively as possible and then led me to the front desk to schedule an appointment.

My mother is convinced my brain shrinks every time general anesthesia is administered and if I go under one more time my brain will be just the right size to roll right on out of my ear. I’m not going to lie to you; I think she may be right. Because when I walk into the doctor’s office later this week? I’m kind of hoping I’ll be greeted by Noah Wyle.