Still, when the nearby cell phone started to ring like a bell, I instinctually patted my right front pocket, where I usually carry my cell phone. I didn’t even think about it, my hand just went there.
I also noticed from the corner of my eye nearly everyone around me … everyone except the seniors, I would comprehend a bit later … making similar motions. Patting their pockets, touching their purses.
And the mysterious phone somewhere in the restaurant continued to ding. Ding … ding … ding.
No one was answering it and it wasn’t even quite clear where it was coming from. And again I couldn’t help it. I mean, I knew better, but my body still HAD to do it … I pulled my phone out of my pocket and flipped it open to check it. Of course it wasn’t my phone dinging, and of course I wasn’t receiving a call.
And again from the corner of my eye I noticed I wasn’t the only one. As the dinging continued many others were now pulling their phones from their pockets and purses and flipping them open. To check, apparently, if somehow their cell phone had discovered a new ring tone on its own? Really just because their body had conditioned them to do so.
That in itself is amusing, and I am sure you have experienced something similar. Or you will the next time you’re amongst a crowd and you pay attention as a cell phone starts to ring … or jingle … or chime … or do The Hustle. It gets everyone stirring.
Which brings me to the amusing experience that occurred in my head as an extension of this real one.
I imagined borrowing about five or six cell phones from friends, each with different types of ring tones. I’d get to the restaurant early, before the lunchtime rush, and hide these phones throughout … one in the pot of the fake plant, one tucked between booths, a third atop the picture on the wall, etc.
And at a set time, when the lunchtime crowd had filed in, I’d have my friends call each of the phones … and for a few minutes they’d keep on calling. All of those five or six different ring tones going off at once.
Now this is not drop-down hilarious, and you may not even find it quite amusing yet, but visualize the experience. Put yourself there.
Imagine all of us, so conditioned now to respond to blips and beeps and Funkytowns and dings that our eyes and hands move to wherever we’ve stored our cell phones (and PDAs etc.), amidst five or six unidentified ringing and dinging sources.
It would cause a temporary havoc to our ding-and-bleep-conditioned bodies.
Imagine the expression on people’s faces. The looks of concern and confusion, all the cell phones being snapped open to check despite rationality, and all the heads twisting around to see why several people are simultaneously committing the sin of not answering their cell phones. It’d make a great YouTube video or Just for Laughs episode.
In a way it’s actually quite sad. We’re all Pavlov’s dog. More controlled than we realize or typically care to admit.
But I’d rather laugh about it. Ding!