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But Mom, I Want To Steal This Phone!
by Mad Dog
TheSyndicatedNews columnist

Mad Dog column has been published by Chicago Tribune, Philadelphia Inquirer, Los Angeles Times, NY Daily News, S.F. Chronicle, Boston Phoenix and other fine newspapers.

It’s a shame, but we spend an awful lot of time, money, and effort trying to keep people from stealing things. We have alarms in our cars so they can go off at random times during the night and remind us how precious an undisturbed night of sleep can be. We have motion detectors in our houses that call the police if a particle of dust moves suspiciously in a room. We have multiple locks on our doors, CDs encased in big plastic frames at the music store, and bulky security tags attached to clothes that leave snags and pulls that “will come out in the wash” but don’t. And god help you if you want anything at the drug store.

Nowadays half the items at the drug store are locked up. If you want razor blades, condoms, or eye drops you have to find an employee, then wait while they find the one employee who has the key so the case can be unlocked. If they’re going to make it that difficult they should deduct my bill for the time wasted from the price of the item. And whatever you do, don’t get a runny nose. If you want Sudafed you have to take a hang tag off a rack, wait in line at the pharmacy, show them your ID, then sign a form. Hell, I can buy a handgun quicker than that. Granted it won’t help a stuffy nose, but it could help get the Sudafed quicker.

I’m not completely ignorant of the problem here. I mean, god help us if I were to take that 24-tablet package of Sudafed and turn it into a couple of nanograms of speed. Come on, no one’s that desperate. But like taking my shoes off before going through airport security and knowing the government can listen in on my phone calls without a court order, keeping the Sudafed locked up makes me feel safer. Yeah, right.

One thing that will be safer soon is your cell phone. Well, providing you use a new service introduced by Synchronica, a company in England with a name that sounds like a drag queen at Joan Crawford Night. Now if your cell phone gets stolen you won't be the only one to scream, your phone can do it too. That’s right. If someone swipes your phone, you can remotely wipe the phone's memory clean, lock the phone so it won’t work, and cause it to emit a loud, annoying, high-pitched howl that won't stop until the battery's removed. You know, like the smoke alarm just outside the kitchen. The service costs $18 a month, which means you’d better have at least one cell phone stolen a year to make it worthwhile. If you get the cheap phone they give away when you sign up like, well, like some people I know do, you’ll need to have one stolen every month.

While this could be handy, I’m going to wait until the next version is released. With luck it will have a gentle voice that reminds you when you're talking loud enough for everyone to hear the details of your sex life, apologizes to anyone in the room for having played a ringtone from High School Musical, and tells you to hang up when you're driving and not paying attention to the road. It would also be more useful if, instead of the alarm, it had a parental voice that said, “Put that phone down! I knew you’d never amount to anything. You could have been a lawyer, the president, or even a cowboy like you said you wanted to be for the first 16 years of your life. But no, you’ve resorted to stealing cell phones. Didn’t we teach you better than that? Now put that phone back where you found it and don’t let me catch you doing it again.”

This would definitely be more effective. A study conducted by the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Columbus Children's Hospital (motto: “Honesty is the best policy, it’s the injury research part we’re still working out.”) found that children who were in a deep sleep would wet their bed more often. Just kidding. Well, about the study showing this anyway. What they actually found was that children who were in a deep sleep woke up faster and more often when they heard a recording of their mother’s voice telling them to wake up and get out of the room than they did with a smoke alarm. The study didn’t get into why this might be, but it’s probably the familiarity of the voice. Not to mention the Pavlovian response to the fact that they could get a spanking if they don’t listen to their mother. Face it, most kids have never been given a time out, sent to their room without dinner, or even yelled at by an angry smoke alarm.

Putting alarms on everything won’t make the world a safer place. Nor will it make it a quieter one. But if alarms sounded more like mothers and less like colicky robot babies on steroids at least we’d get a bit more sleep. Well, unless it was your mother telling you that someone was stealing your car. I’ll be right there, Mom!

# # # # #

©2006 Barry H. Gottlieb All Rights Reserved.

More Mad Dog can be found online at: His compilation of humorous travel columns, “If It’s Such a Small World Then Why Have I Been Sitting on This Airplane For Twelve Hours?” is available from Xlibris Corporation.

Published: Sep 7,2008 18:34
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