Friday, February 26, 2010

Another excuse gone right down the tubes

Or, rather, down the "tube" -- singular.

Yes, the Curmudgeon is starting his Friday morning with a weak play on words -- "tube" being British slang for what Americans would call the subway.

And, now, riders in Chicago's subways can make and receive cell phone calls apparently without regard to which wireless carrier they use. (For a year or so, subscribers to only one particular wireless carrier had subway service.)

I found out about this new service the other day, on my way home, when my wife was able to get through to me on my cellphone even though I was on the train, far underground. If the bars on the phone mean anything, I had better reception there than I usually do here in my Undisclosed Location well above street level in Downtown Chicago.

Another zone of privacy has been removed.

It's not that I spend my evenings carousing in night clubs before returning to the warmth of home and hearth. At my age and state of health I lack the intestinal fortitude -- indeed, I lack the intestines! -- for such goings on.

But there have been evenings where I have told Long Suffering Spouse I'd be leaving soon... and then the office phone rings... or I get involved in a project... or I can't overcome the inertia to actually get out of my office chair... and an hour or more sneaks by unnoticed. I know, on such occasions, that my wife will eventually call my cell phone: Where are you? she will ask... and I will feel bad because dinner is cold and she is tired and I have failed to do as I promised to do. Maybe we were supposed to be somewhere at 7:00 or 7:30... and there is now only a theoretical chance that we will be on time.

Until this week, I knew, in such instances (these are rare, I would assert, though I haven't asked Long Suffering Spouse for confirmation on this point) that, once I descended through the sidewalk at Lake and Wells, I was passing beyond reach of any immediate cellular accusation: You didn't leave when you said you would. By the time my phone might receive a signal again, I would have legitimately made substantial progress toward home and could realistically forecast being home in 10 minutes time. Or 15.

And then, of course, as news of this innovation spreads... probably by cellphone... more and more train passengers will while away their commutes by talking on their darned phones. And in the subway one must frequently SHOUT to be heard over the squealing noises made by the train. Perhaps they will shout their own excuses about why they failed to leave when they said they would. Perhaps I will take notes.


Empress Bee (of the high sea) said...

rats, one more moment in time gone... (smile)


Jean-Luc Picard said...

How does anyone talk on a phone while in a subway train?