Once, while I was riding on a crowded bus, the man sitting next to me threw his cell phone out the window. When his phone rang, instead of dutifully answering it, he casually tossed it away. I was stunned. He looked at me, shrugged and looked away. I had no idea if it was his, if it was stolen or if he even knew what a cell phone was. But in one seemingly careless motion, he managed to liberate himself from something that has completely consumed me.
When my cell phone rings, it's an incessant and incensed vibration that demands my immediate attention. I curse its calling, but am unable to refuse. Whether I'm in the middle of a conversation, in the shower or sound asleep, the ringing causes such panic and excitement that I feel forced to answer.
When I was young, a century or so ago, when only new, busines telephones had buttons, I was a trainmaster--the first female trainmaster in our company. I had spent a year learning about the railroad, and my first job was supervising 40-60 yo men, big men, how to do their jobs. (Yeah, right.) My only saving grace was that I was smart enough to know I was a kid and totally ignorant. I learned a lot from those guys, and I don't mean just my vocabulary.
One of the biggest lessons I learned was from the many yardmasters. The yardmaster is just that. He is in charge of the safe operation of the rail yard, generally with several yard crews doing switching or industrial work, and several road trains preparing to leave or ending their trip. The yardmaster in my yard in Baltimore had a two line telephone, a "block" phone that used cranked signals and was always on, and two radio channels.
I learned from my YM to ignore the telephone. Radio had dibs because it was a moving train of some sort. Block phones had second choice, because it was a crew or other on-the-ground-railroader who needed to share/ask information. The telephone was the last thing handled, because it was either a boss or a customer, and the safety of the yard and people was not dependent on them. Particularly annoying/neverending telephone calls would get "answered" by being picked up and put on the desk until he had time. That eliminated the noise so he could hear the radio.
Thank you Shakey, and Hard Rock and Tony and all you guys for teaching me that technology is a tool that gets used at MY convenience.