No, no, no, fellow babies, this is not a "Comical Wednesday" post. Just ignore
the illustration above. Well... Don't ignore it, exactly, but... Oh, never mind.
Somewhere between those geological eras known as the Mesozoic and the Cenozoic -- or, more specifically, before the widespread use of the "call waiting" function -- one of the most irritating things we humans had to deal with was the following scenario:
You want or -- even worse -- need to contact a friend, relative, business associate... whatever. So you walk to the nearest phone, and...
(Excuse me? No, no, I said "you walk," not "you reach into your pocket!" Cell phones as we know them hadn't been invented yet! The only "mobile phones" to speak of were a special kind of electronic appliance that was installed in your car, and was large enough to comfortably seat your three smallest children. The kind of telephone I'm talking about using here was on a cord that was actually attached to a wall, like a cable TV line. And although so-called "telephone jacks" did exist, most telephones stayed in whatever room they had originally been installed in, and...
Can I please get back to my story?)
So, anyway... You call your friend, and get a busy signal. Remember, this example pre-dates "call waiting," so you get an annoying buzzing sound in your ear that tells you that the person you're attempting to call is already talking to someone who can't possibly be as important as you are. So you hang up.
Ten minutes later, you call back. Still busy. ("Geez, how long does this guy talk, anyway?")
You wait another ten minutes, and call again. Still busy! ("Okay, he has to be off soon!")
So you call again, five minutes later. Still busy?!? ("Oh, for... !")
This goes on for another fifteen or twenty minutes. Your calls are now spaced about one minute apart. Plus, to add to the aggravation, at this time in mankind's history there is no such handy feature as an automatic "re-dial" button on your phone, either.
On your penultimate try, you dial, hear the grating busy signal once again, slam the phone down, lift it up again and immediately dial your insensitive friend's number once more, even 'though you know in your heart of hearts that if he was on the phone four seconds earlier, he'll still be on it now.
The phone rings. It rings! He's finally off the phone, and can receive your all-important call!
There's no answer. There's no answer!
Why? Well, because your friend isn't home, of course.
So, you ask yourself, "How the hell could he hang up the telephone, and then vanish immediately?"
You're understandably furious. You promise yourself that the next time you see him, you're going to grab him by the front of his shirt (let's hope your friend is a "him" if you plan that approach, by the way), lift him a foot or two off the ground, and scream, "What the f**k do you do after an hour-long phone call?!? Hang up and immediately jump out the nearest window?!?"
But you don't... You do what we all do, or did. (I'll now drop my pretentious use of the present tense, describing a scene ostensibly taking place in the past!) You calmed down, and forgot.
So we never learned just how these people "did it."
You know, until now, I never appreciated "call waiting" very much. (Probably because I'm usually the one who's put "on hold" while the person I'm speaking with takes a call from someone else who, as in my example above, can't possibly be as important as I like to believe that I am. I resent it enough when a corporation puts me on hold, but I really hate it when a friend does it!) But after reading what I just wrote, I suppose I should admit that "call waiting" really does have some advantages.
But I digress.
The passage of time, coupled with minor technological innovations like "call waiting" and the "re-dial" button, have all but done away with instances like the above. Ah, but technology can be a double-edged sword! The oh-so-wonderful internet has given us something equally annoying in the place of my telephone horror story!
Here's the new variation: While you are working at your computer -- specifically, checking your e-mail -- an e-mail arrives from a friend (or relative, or... hell, you know the drill). You don't even take the time to sign on to Yahoo Messenger, or MSN Messenger, or AIM, or ICQ, etc. Nope! You just dash off a quick e-mail in response, and wait.
And this waiting is made even more irritating if you employ services such as MSGTAG, as I used to (a little thingamabob that e-mails you as soon as your message is actually read), because the absence of a notification such as theirs proves that your e-mail has not been read. And I don't mean "read, but not yet replied to." I mean, not even seen!
So, you ask yourself, "How the hell could he send an e-mail, and then vanish immediately?"
And you're frustrated (but at least you're not furious!), frustrated to the point that you promise yourself that the next time you see him, you're going to grab him by the front of his shirt (and let's still hope your friend is a "him" if you plan that approach), lift him a foot or two off the ground, and scream, "What the f**k do you do after you send an e-mail?!? Unplug your computer and immediately jump out the nearest window?!?"
But you don't... You do what we all do. You calm down, and forget.
So we'll never learn just how these people "do it."
I'm pretty sure this is what they were referring to in "The Lion King" when they sang "Circle of Life."
But... hey! Y'know somethin'? As John Astin (as "Buddy" on Night Court) used to say... "I'm feeling much better now." This "RantZ" page beats the hell out of tranquilizers, any day!
Thanks for your time.