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Rings False

I'm spending the week at OSCON, a conference so geeky that they won't even let you in the door unless you have in your possession a Linux boot disk, the root password, a 20-sided die, or proof of virginity.

I whiled away the morning in a three-hour presentation given by perl überguru Damian Conway. Everyone in the audience was laden with all manner of newfangled contraption -- laptops, blackberries, iPods -- and the presentation was interrupted several time by the ring of cell phones. Each time a ringtone sounded Damian would stop talking and adopt an air of overly-taxed patience while the owner fumbled around for his phone and mumbled apologies; everyone else chipped in by swiveling around in their seats and glaring at the knucklehead du jour.

After the third time it seemed as if everyone had finally wised up and turned off their phones' ringers, because nearly an hour went by without further incidents. Then, just as Damian was entering the home stretch of his lecture, the phone on the guy sitting one seat over from me burst into song. It had one of the most obnoxious jingles I have ever heard, and waas set on a volume that ensured it would be heard even if the phone was accidentally dropped down a storm grate and whisked out to sea.

As Damian stopped in mid-sentence, incredulous, and all heads turned in the direction of the ring, my neighbor first sat there paralyzed with a stunned expression upon his face, and then frantically fished the phone from his pocket. "Sorry, sorry!" he cried, clearly chagrined.

And yet his shame didn't stop him for actually taking the call. He leaned way over -- almost to the point of putting his head under the desk -- held the phone to the side of his face, and, in a low voice, whispered, "Hello?!" After a moment of listening he angrily hissed, "Nice timing: you just totally pissed off Damian Conway."

Posted on August 01, 2005 to Storytelling


This was very, very good.

Posted by: panajane on August 2, 2005 12:38 AM

I hope you don't have to put up with the crazy frog ringtones, like we have to in the UK. Makes you want to hurt people, hard.

Posted by: Thaedius on August 2, 2005 1:12 AM

A masterwork!

Now, tell us: which ticket did you use to get in? (My money is on the dice)

Posted by: holley on August 2, 2005 3:18 AM

Dude, you got to meet Damian Conway? That's awesome!

/goes back to playing with 20-sided dice.

Posted by: Gopi on August 2, 2005 7:42 AM

Wow, sounds like the dude totally overrode the shame method that he should've inherited from his parent (classes); isn't there some way to lock-down base class methods to prevent the children from doing stupid things? (I know TMTOWTDI, but sometimes the "other way" is, uh, awful.)

Or was the obnoxious ringtone some sort of compile-time warning?

Posted by: jdbo on August 2, 2005 8:21 AM

There is a certain level of incredulousness that has to go with someone not turning their phone off after multiple people have been humiliated by ringing cell phones.

And then he blamed the caller. Nice. Did you ask him if he wanted to be your best friend after that? No? Hmm.

Posted by: Sloth on August 2, 2005 9:23 AM

Are you sure this wasn't a medical conference? Nobody's got the phone/beeper bug like MDs... if you're ever at a biomedical conference, and the phone rings, well, it ain't in the pocket of a biomedical engineer. Unless the engineer in question is a stuck-up knob.. which brings me back to MDs. Ahhhhh, circular reasoning! So refreshing in today's linear world!

Posted by: JPed on August 2, 2005 9:32 AM

Dang! I thought it was a Linux boot disk, the root password, a 20-sided die, AND proof of virginity.

And wow! Slightly tangentially, is Greg Stein's hair real? Did you sneak up behind him and tug on it to make sure? I need to know.

Posted by: David on August 2, 2005 11:09 AM

Reminds me of a joke:

A young man wanted to get his beautiful blonde wife something nice for their first wedding anniversary. So he decides to buy her a cell phone. She is all excited - she loves her phone. He shows her and explains to her all the features on the phone.
The next day the blonde goes shopping. Her phone rings and it's her husband.
"Hi Hon," he says. "How do you like your new phone?"
She replies, "I just love it. It's so small and your voice is clear as a bell. There's one thing I don't understand though."
"What's that, baby?" asks the husband.
"How did you know I was at Wal-Mart?"

Posted by: Anonymous on August 2, 2005 11:53 AM

LOL, nice joke.

Posted by: Thaedius on August 2, 2005 2:21 PM

I miss my old cell phone's ringtones. I set it to one where it was just a cat meowing. Every time it went off, people would just look around, bewildered that a cat was in a coffeeshop/grocery store/Wal*Mart.

Now I just have some crappy techno song...

Posted by: Sam on August 2, 2005 4:57 PM

I watch my friend answer her phone in the cinema and actually engage in conversation.

"Hey I'm in the cinema, I can't talk"
"Oh I'm just watching [name of movie]"
"No we're not up to that bit yet."
"I know! How stupid is that?!"

Posted by: Jack on August 2, 2005 6:22 PM

A customer's cell phone rang while she was in my bookshop last Saturday... the ringtone was that of an old-fashioned rotary phone. It was startling enough to make everyone over "a certain age" turn and stare.

Posted by: Michelle on August 2, 2005 8:02 PM

When I was in massage therapy school, their solution to the ringing cell phone problem was to fine you $5 if your phone went off. Since the money went towards the class graduation party, it turned the whole student body into enforcers. We never had a problem with it after the first week.

Posted by: C. on August 3, 2005 5:01 AM

I was sitting at the movies with my wife-to-be, wayyyyyy before we were at that point, like on our second date, with the annoyingly loud group of teenager sitting a mear two rows behind us. We're all of twenty minutes into the film (for the life of me I can't remember the movie) when one future savior of humanity's phone rings. And not just a normal ring. No, no. It's "I'm a Barbie Girl" set so loud people in the next county were telling her to shut it off. She answers it, but politely makes the conversation as short as possible, just a mere three minutes, and then puts her phone away. Only to have it ring again ten minutes later and start the whole thing over again. I'm certain if Knuckles her over-testosteroned boyfriend with the brow ridges hadn't been there we would have seen pitchforks and torches. And rightly so, too!

Posted by: Mindar76 on August 4, 2005 7:47 AM

if the squirelly is in excistence, how could he have proof of virginity

Posted by: LJ on August 7, 2005 9:05 PM