At first, out of the corner of my vision, I thought the woman sitting to my right was praying, her head bowed solemnly as she sat at the big round breakfast table.
It was during a large gathering at the St. Cloud Holiday Inn – a recent kick-off breakfast for the ongoing fight against breast cancer.
The master of ceremonies introduced speakers, who gave uplifting, inspirational messages about battling the dreaded disease. For at least 10 minutes, the woman to my right kept her head bowed. For awhile, I thought she might be praying for a loved one with breast cancer or maybe she was hanging her head in sadness.
Finally, perplexed, I turned my head and realized at a glance she was texting. She had her cell phone out of sight under the table and was busily texting like a pecking pigeon, oblivious to what the speakers were saying.
I noticed some of the speakers were looking her way, probably figuring out by her head-bowed attitude that she was texting, not paying attention to anything or anybody.
“Talk about rude,” I was thinking. “That’s just about the ultimate rudeness.”
But then I quickly thought, “Maybe there is an emergency or something urgent the woman must cope with.”
However, a couple glances her way made me almost certain there was no urgency at all about the woman’s demeanor. She had obviously come to the breakfast and decided her texting was more important than paying attention to what was going on around her. She should’ve stayed home.
And that is exactly the way I feel about some of my guests. They should stay home and text to their hearts’ content. The same incredible rudeness has happened at my place, with people sitting around the big oak kitchen table as if there’s a prayer meeting in session, their heads bowed, their hands and fingers clutching cell phones “hidden” beneath the edge of the table. And, in fact, they do remind me of pigeons – those pecking pigeons made famous by behavioral psychologist B.F. Skinner, who did experiments with pigeons peck-peck-pecking to get seeds for good behavior. These “pigeons” in my kitchen I’d like to slap up with black-and-blue stars for bad behavior.
Just recently, an old friend whom I hadn’t seen in a few years popped in for a visit. As I cooked up a meal of cheese enchiladas, he was playing table pigeon, with an occasional remark or question for me. During dinner, his cell phone kept ringing, and he would text and text some more. The text messages, he said, were from his grown daughter, who felt compelled to tell him about the sights she was seeing as her husband drove through a couple two-horse central Minnesota towns. She was on her way to pick up her dad at my house.
“Well, what did she see?” I asked.
“Nothing much,” he said. “Pretty boring stuff. They had to stop and get something on the car fixed. They just stopped for burgers.”
I squelched the urge to laugh out loud. So that’s what people text about nowadays? Boring sights in boring towns? To tell loved ones nothing’s happening? To share news of minor car problems? To inform us about the fast food they just ate?
Do these texters have any idea how rude they are? Not to mention how dangerous they are texting like mad while driving on our roadways?
With every technological advance there is always a drawback. The drawback to cell phones is a big bad habit – idle texting as a sorry substitute for genuine in-person communication. Texting has turned too many otherwise good people into pecking pigeons. I don’t want pigeons for company; I want real human beings.
And I’m going to start telling these rude birds: “Stay home or go peck somewhere else!”