There was once a time when you called a place looking for a person. You called their house, or their job, or the store where they were going shopping if you needed to tell them to pick up a quart of milk on the way home.
Today, you call the person. Cell phones have almost become a requirement for daily life. They are so common, that travellers no longer have to buy maps, all they have to do is call their destination and ask, "Where are you?"
During the Hurricane Rita evacuation, an evacuee called us from the Interstate, booked a room, then called us every fifteen minutes for directions. And, of course, she got lost. The directions: "Take I-10 west until you get to the US Highway 87 North exit. I don't know the exit number, but there is a sign that says 'Fredericksburg, San Angelo'. Turn right on 87 North. Drive 25 miles. When you get to Main Street, turn left. We're six blocks down on your left, next to the Winery." She called us seventeen times wanting to know how she would get from where she was to where we were. We'd ask, "Where are you?" "I just passed a muffler shop."
One guy booked a house. He came to the office and got a map. I gave him verbal directions that were identical to the directions on his map: "Take 290 west out about five miles past the Nimitz Museum. Look for a street sign that says Cain City Road. Turn right. Drive down 6 miles until you reach the Luckenbach road intersection. Turn left there. The house is on the right." He called ten minutes later, he calls and tells me my directions were wrong. He drove ten miles and didn't see the intersection. I asked where he turned. he said he turned by th KOA. "You're on the wrong road, sir. You're on FM 1673. You went 500 yards too far. Go back to 290 and turn left. . ." "I just passed Luckenbach Road and it only turns right. Can I turn there?" "Yes, but i don't know the milage from that end of the road." "Why not?" I wanted to say, "Because we never expected a moron to not be able to follow directions," but instead I said, "Because that's not the way we tell people to go."
Last year, a young couple wanted to stop by our office to book a room. They call on their cell phone. "Where are you?" I give them the address. "No. What are you next to?" "We're between Crockett and Orange Streets, in the middle of the block on the south side of the street, next to Fredericksburg Winery." "how do I get there?" "Where are you?" "At the corner of Main and Crockett." "Great you're only a half block away. Which way are you headed: East or West?" "I don't know." "What is on your left?" "The courthouse." "You're headed West. We're in the middle of the next block on the left." Ten minutes later, the guy calls back. "I can't find you." "Where are you?" "On Main Street." Sigh. "What's on your left?" "Napa Auto Parts." "You drove four blocks too far. Turn around. Drive three blocks. Look on your right. Look for a short guy flipping you the bird. That'll be me standing on the sidewalk trying to flag you down!"
Everyone seems to be upset by people who drive and talk on their cell phones. Yet, everyother car is driven by a person with a cell phone in their ear. Every other person in the supermarket is walking down the aisle while on the phone. On every sidewalk in every city dozens of people are having coversations with the folks they left at home. Is it any wonder that researchers are learning that cell phones are are a bigger danger to family life than gay marriage?