And They’re Called “‘Smart’ Phones” Because Why?

Yesterday morning I got a call from a client, only it wasn't really her. It was her cell phone, which had taken it upon itself to make the call for her. Clearly it was thinking of me. It's always nice to be thought of. But Laura was unaware of her phone's friendly gesture until I asked her about the call. It could have been worse, she replied in her email. Once her dog contacted a coworker at 2:00 a.m. "He stepped on my phone and catastrophe ensued," Laura said. I don't think my phone has called anyone spontaneously--not yet, anyway--but I'm frequently annoyed by little beep-beeps emanating from my pocket when I sit in the wrong position or move in a way that jostles the keypad. I don't have a smart phone, just a regular old cell phone that's somewhat smart. But all mobile phones are probably on a par of dumbness given the right circumstances. Here's a stunt that my phone loves to pull on me: Me: (Using voice-call feature) Call Duane, mobile. Phone: Did you say, "Call Linda, mobile"? Me: No. Ph: Did you say, "Call Linda, work"? Me: Aaaarrrghh! No! Ph: I'm sorry. I did not understand your reply. Did you say, "Call Linda, work"? Me: NO! Ph: Did you say, "Call Lynne"? Me: (Hang up. I know this drill. I keep forgetting that my phone is of a sensitive, artistic nature and requires a particular nuance of pronunciation before it will connect me with Duane. Let's try again. Clicking voice-call button ... ) Ph: Please say a command. Me: Call DUane, mobile. Ph: Did you say, "Call DUane, mobile"? Me: Yes, you electronic imbecile. Ph: I'm sorry. I did not understand your reply. Did you say, "Call DUane, mobile"? Me: (My controlled enunciation belying the fact that capillaries in my eyeballs are beginning to burst) Yes. Ph: Why didn't you say so in the first place? Me: What? Listen closely, you moron: If you don't connect me with DUane in the next ten seconds, I am going to boil you in acid and laugh wildly as I watch your stupid plastic body dissolve in agony. Ph: Calling DUane, mobile. (Brrrrrt. Brrrrrt. Brrrrrt ... click ... ) Linda: Baaaaahhhb! Well, well, it's good to hear from you! Me: Linda? Ph: Ha, ha! Sucker! Me: You shall die. Linda: Whaaat! Me: Not you. My cell phone. It's a long story. (My cell phone snickers in the background.)

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