Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Mobile phoney

Sometime last week I was driving towards New Malden from Worcester Park and as I got to the Plough there was a car coming the other way with a portly late-middle-aged male driver who was trying to turn into the Harvester with the result that he and his car were blocking the traffic on his side as nobody would let him across.

Possibly because he was blatantly on the phone (which is illegal by the way).

Being well brung-up like I are I slowed down and flashed my lights to let him across so he, with his one free hand, tried to turn the steering wheel to the right and move forward at which point his car jerked forwards and then stalled, straddling both lanes. With one hand still holding his phone to his right ear he then smiled at me in a "These things happen" kind of way and then rather sheepishly tried and failed to restart his car whilst still talking on the phone and it was at least 15 to 20 seconds before he managed to get it to come to life and drive it into the Harvester, where he probably consoled himself by ordering every deep fried item on the menu.

I'd have thought that if someone was going to use a mobile phone while driving their car (which is illegal by the way) they'd at least have the sense that if they stalled their car then they might want to, perhaps, interrupt their phone conversation and give the task their full attention seeing as they're now blocking two lanes of traffic.

Or am I asking too much?


Noble Savage said...

Very annoying when people talk on the phone while driving, but what did him being 'portly' have to do with the situation?

The Brinkster said...

Just helping build the mental image... being middle-aged wasn't that relevant either and all of the details could be changed.

Actually it may have been relevant as he was in a very small car so holding the phone up to his ear meant that his arm was against the window, which probably didn't help...

Worcester Park said...

Perhaps he was just worried about how he was going to get out of the very small car, and was just phoning ahead to ensure there was sufficient vaseline on standby?

Personally, I prefer creeping up behind drivers who are on the phone and flashing my lights rapidly (which is probably illegal, by the way) causing them to drop the phone in panic. Infintely satisfying.

Noble Savage said...

Building a mental image is one thing but the description coupled with a reference to him eating a bunch of deep-fried food later made me wonder if you thought his offense was worse somehow because he was fat. Sorry if I misunderstood or am being too sensitive, but I have just been hearing a lot of fat-bashing lately and think it's a bit unnecessary, really.

The Brinkster said...

NS: Thanks for the good points!

I'm going to try and resist the temptation of over-responding on a post about mobile phones but I may ramble...

I'd recommend reading Richard Dawkins "The Ancestor's Tale" as I've been listening to the audiobook this week and to my mind he summarises the issue very well in "The Salamander's Tale" with something he calls "The tyranny of the discontinuous mind" by saying that labels are essential for communication but unhelpful in that they're often arbitary and don't reflect the real issues. He does talk about size as one aspect and to summarise it with my own illustration I'll briefly touch on Body Mass Index (BMI).

A BMI of 30 is 'officially' obese but a BMI of 29.9 is referred to as overweight but what if your BMI is 29.95? Should it be rounded up or down? And who got to decide that it should be 30 anyway? Did they pick a nice round number or is there a proven statistic to show that people with BMI over 30 haven't significantly raised mortality issues? Human nature is to label things whether the labels are helpful or not and whether they're accurate or not.

As Dawkins continues this discussion carries over into contentious issues such as when does an embryo become a human and , somewhat prophetically, at what point does a virus become an epidemic and although the law says a person in the UK is safe to drive at 17 insurance companies would seem to believe otherwise.

Moving on to a more mundane and practical level everybody differs in the way they recognise people with some people having a greater than average recollection for faces but I have a below average recollection for faces and I don't tend to identify people that way so you may find my language coloured with references to other physical features apart from their face. It does cause problems. Lots of problems :(

Lastly (I really will shut up soon) when I use the word 'portly' I'm picturing Captain Mainwaring and if, as one of this nation's more recent treasures, you're not sure who he is then ask TNH to enlighten you. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines portly as:
1 : dignified, stately
2 : heavy or rotund of body : stout

To me Captain Mainwaring is a mixture of both and that's how I use it and anyway, if I'd wanted to be rude I'd have used 'corpulent' ;)

Natch. I think I over-responded...