Tuesday
Jul082008

« Hands Free? »

I think it a bit ironic that this California "hands free" cell phone law was enacted and became valid in July, scant days before the national celebration of our so-called "independence." Since I drive for work, and am on the road for most of my shift, I am really more of a slave to this preposterous law. We have to use Nextel network phone/walkie talkies, and the push-to-talk method is in high demand in this field. Really I hate the thing anyway—it seems to be embarrassing as hell when I am before a client chef and need to call the office and can get no response—but it is more useful than not on the whole, and the company foots the bill. But, now the law says that all mobile devices are not to be used unless they can be used hands free.

The company provided us with the choice of Bluetooth ear bud devices, and I tried mine on a few days back. I may need another model because the one I have is sort of a pain in the ear—literal sensation, that is. But the thing only really does one thing better than the phone/walkie talkie itself, and that is that the conversation stays in my ear, not over a speaker that anyone around me can hear. Aside from that, I still need to push buttons to scroll to find the salesperson, dispatcher, boss, or other supervisor or anyone else, and I need to push the button to actually make the connection. But now I need to have a fucking cybernetic attachment on my ear too. How is that hands free?

The good news is that the thing works with my own personal phone and the work radio at once, so I don't need two devices, and since work provides one for me, I don't need to buy my own at this time. But once again, if I want to make a call, I need to scroll or at least hit a few buttons to even activate the voice dialer. Hardly hands free. I don't feel any more un-distracted by having the bud on my ear, compared to when I held the phone in my hand and drove. At least when I did it that way, I was clear on the matter that I was both talking and driving, and I would put the phone down if I needed to shift and steer at once, or whatever. After about four years of that, I am reasonably comfortable with it. But now, I have to learn more shit—what this bleep or that means, which phone is ringing, and all that. When the phone rings, I want to see the number, not just touch a button and answer to whoever-might-call. That doesn't make it hands free, especially given that I wear my phone in a pouch on my belt.

And, as mentioned in another post about a hellish day at work, when it gets hot and the sweat begins to pour, I want to towel off, and that damned bud will get knocked off, or it is more time to take off and put back on. I may as well not even use it. Shit, I may as well just get a friggin' land line again if my so-called mobile phone is going to be so restricted.

If the law is meant to cut down on distractions and stuff, maybe they need to invent hands free drinks, hands free sandwiches, hands free seat belts, hands free stereo/CD players, hands free makeup (for those who need it), and hands free everything else that ties up your hands in a car. I think its preposterous. The problem isn't the actual thing you hold; its the attention given to the conversation. I keep my car conversations short most of the time. Others I see having full blown arguments. Really, the distractions are plenty, but there won't be a campaign to reduce roadside advertisements, billboards, street signs, or other stuff that screams for attention. Nope, that would be bad for the economy. But what it is okay to do—it seems—is to take away personal liberties to address a problem that you can't legislate away in the first place. Welcome to America, the land of the "free."

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