Are you mad, or just on the phone?

Posted on March 5, 2011

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Have you ever passed someone in the street talking to themselves, given in to your prejudices and thought they must be mentally infirm, only to discover that they were speaking ‘hands-free’ on their phone?

Mad like Gollum or a headset owner? It's not so clear these days

On several occasions recently I have caught sight of someone approaching me out of the darkness of the evening air, cursing and gesturing wildly with their arms.

Only when they reached spitting distance did the tiny blue glow of their hands-free headset catch my eye.

It is getting more and more difficult to make snap judgements of people these days.

No more is it a given to look at someone muttering to themselves as they meander down the road and internally say: ‘That person is quite possibly mad.’

It used to be simple so far as I was concerned: if you saw someone talking swearing angrily to nobody in particular, the instinctive reaction is to cross the road – enter a sweet shop, engage the til assistant in small talk and re-emerge a few minutes later.

Now though, this imprinted prejudice is just a hassle, making journeys needlessly longer, and my pockets bulge with Haribo.

It may just be a friendly conversation with a relative, or a business transaction with a client in Shanghai, or even just the latest gossip from the pub crowd.

Where will this lead?

Talking to yourself could easily slip into the realm of normality, easily disguised as an important phone call should you wish to do so.

The streets are becoming a much noisier place to be. They will be covered with people waving their arms irately, shouting secrets of their life into the ether (I have never seen anyone with hands-free speaking quietly).

As for me, I think I will always naturally suspect the talk-to-selfers as being involved in spiritual communication with the netherworld, mental communication with the neverworld, but never wireless communication with the actual world.

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Posted in: The Odd Box