Nothing Up My Sleeve

Jon Gallagher

Carol’s Hemorrhoids


Carol’s hemorrhoids are acting up again. 

Yep.  Those bad boys are back and she’s even been to the doctor about them, but nothing seems to help.  Seems that now there’s puss coming out of them and it hurts to do anything.

I have no idea who Carol is.

But thanks to the lady sitting in the next booth at Sirloin Stockade last week, I know all about Carol’s medical problems.

I usually don’t listen in to other people’s conversations.  It’s not polite.  I might find out something that I don’t really need to know.  Like about those pesky little red things on Carol’s ass.

For some reason, the lady in the next booth thought that it was important for me to know.  She must have thought it was important for everyone sitting at a table within twenty feet of her to know as well.

Maybe she thought one of us was a doctor (imagine that… a doctor eating at Sirloin Stockade!).  Maybe she thought one of us would have some sort of home remedy that would provide Carol with some relief.  Maybe she thought her family wouldn’t be embarrassed by her conversation.

She was wrong on all counts.

As soon as she mentioned the word “puss,” I excused myself from the table where my wife and daughter were seated.  I stood up, took a step to her table and found the woman who was talking so loudly was on her cell phone. 

She was ignoring those at her table while she carried on a very private topic of conversation with persons unknown.

I’ve never been shy about sharing my opinions with people.  I didn’t see a reason to start being shy right then either.

I got her attention and she asked her caller to hold on for a moment.  I took the opportunity to inform her that not a whole lot of people within earshot were interested in Carol’s problems and that she might be spoiling a few appetites with her graphic descriptions.

I was told, in no uncertain terms, that I should mind my own business.

A gentleman across the aisle from her then informed her that she had made it everyone’s business by broadcasting the news at a decibel level just short of a jackhammer. 

The woman started to say something to him, but her husband stopped her and told her to shut up.  He then apologized to the rest of us as the other two in their party pretended that they were somewhere else.

I’m not sure why this lady decided that it was okay to take a call during their meal.  At our house, we always had a rule that if the phone rang while we were at the table, then the phone would just ring till the caller hung up (or left a message once answering machines were available).  Meals were family time and that was that.

I’m not sure why Carol’s hemorrhoids were so important that she felt the need to share their story with her caller at this particular time. 

It used to be that we had phones at home, and that was it.  If someone couldn’t reach you at home, then they waited until you got home. 

When cell phones first came out, they were only used by the very very rich.  Airtime was sold by the minute and it was expensive, as much as fifty cents or more per minute.  Later, cellular phone companies would have plans where you could talk for a couple hours a month for one “low” charge (that was still outrageous).  Cell phones during this time period were basically for emergency use only.

Now, we feel the need to be connected all the time.  We can’t go anywhere without the ubiquitous cell phone.  Everyone’s got one, even little kids who are still in grade school.  Airtime is cheap and for those who don’t like to talk, you can now write notes to other users in the form of text messages (thus making a verb out of the word “text”).

Given a choice, my cell phone would be on the bottom of the Spoon River or taking up space in an electronic landfill.  I don’t like talking on it, and I don’t like being interrupted by it.  I refuse to answer it at work (unless it’s a family member), and will usually call whoever it is back when I get a break. 

It bothers me to see people walking through a store talking on their phone.  Is it really that important that it can’t wait?  People who are rude enough to talk on their cell phones while in a store are usually rude to the clerks in the store as well.

It bothers me to see people driving and talking on their cell.  Out on the Interstate, it’s not so bad because there’s not a lot to hit out there.  In town, where there are stoplights to be run, other cars to dent and pedestrians to run over, it’s a different story.

But what irks me the most are the people who think they’re ultra cool by having their cell phone clipped to their ear.  This way they can walk along talking without holding the stupid thing to the side of their face.  Instead, they look like a dork with this thing sticking out of their ear. 

And they also look like they’re talking to themselves.  There are rooms with padded walls for people like this.  Now it’s hard to tell the difference.

On my recent trip to Madison Wisconsin, I stopped by a rest stop.  Some idiot was in one of the men’s room stalls talking to someone in a voice just as loud as Carol’s friend from the restaurant.  One of the other guys in the restroom yelled, “HEY!  He’s talkin’ to you while he’s takin’ a crap!”

Well, he didn’t use the word “crap,” but this is a family newspaper.

Cell phones have their place and time.  I use mine more than I want, and if the truth be known, I’ll probably never get rid of it.  It does save time and it does come in handy when I can’t find my wife in a large store.

But for the people who feel the need to be connected 24/7, they need to get a real life.

Meanwhile, I the lady in the restaurant ever comes down with hemorrhoids, I do have a possible cure.

But it involves her cell phone.