Thursday, August 10, 2006

Air travel set to get worse

I learned with horror on the Irish news programme, RTE’s Morning Ireland, that it may be possible in as little as a few months to use personal mobile phones on aeroplanes. While applauding the Kerry-based company that is developing this technology, I dread the day I get on a plane to, say, France, and have to listen to some jumped up self-important idiot talking to his business associates or his girlfriend or his solicitor or his counsellor while I am trying to have a relaxing flight and forget about my terror at being in a steel tube hurtling through the air at about 500 miles an hour.

This must surely be one of the worst inventions ever and will make air travel more stressful, more unpleasant and more fraught than ever. There is nothing worse that listening to someone else’s telephone conversation under any circumstances but, in the confined space of an aeroplane – when it might not be possible to change seats – it will be truly awful. I hold the view that all devices that make any sort of noise should be banned from aeroplanes. But, once these damned mobile phones are permitted on board, I will be using my iPOD on full volume at all times and, if a loquacious arsehole ever sits beside me, I will do everything possible to disrupt his or her conversation.

I recently travelled from Cork to Dublin on the new fancy train in first class, at a cost of €115 return, excluding food. So, in all, the cost of the trip was probably about €150. No sooner had my colleague and I sat down than some asshole behind me got on the blower and proceeded to conduct his business in the loudest voice possible on the train. If he had kept it to a single call, perhaps, I would have tolerated it but this idiot – who was obviously too important to be off air even for a minute – proceeded to make and take call after call. If he had kept his voice quiet, maybe that would have been OK but he bellowed so loudly that I wondered why he needed the phone at all.

I complained to the steward on the train and he relayed my complaint to the offending prattler. From then on, he made and took his calls outside the train carriage. Problem solved, as far as I was concerned. But he was not too happy with this. As if I gave a shit that this plonker was upset!

And here is another thing that really bugs me: why do people on aeroplanes have to talk on their phones prior to take off, almost up up to the point that the wheels are lifted? And why do they also feel the need to turn on their mobile phones again as soon as the rubber hits the tarmac? How sad are these bastards? What sort of lives must they lead? What makes them think they are so important?

You have probably gathered that I am not a great fan of mobile phones but that is not correct. I actually have three of them. But I manage to arrange my life reasonably well and to get things done efficiently enough so that people do not have the need to ring me too often, nor I them. I actually look forward to the day when mobile phones go out of fashion because they are a damned nuisance. As soon as I can, I am dumping mine, but that probably won’t happen until I retire!

Anyway, dear reader, please have some consideration for other people when you are using your mobile phone. Try to have some simple manners and show respect for other people. Speak quietly and keep your call as short as possible. Oh, and don’t be an asshole like our fellow traveller on the train from Cork.

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