I'm taking time off from my continuing criticism of the inept and criminally corrupt Bush administration to complain once again about one of my least favorite technological advances -- the cell phone. I continue to believe that cell phones will lead to the death of civilization as we know it, as you can tell from some of my previous rants on the subject (here, here, here, here, and here).
My latest beef with what the Europeans call "mobiles" comes after a day spent at a big industry trade show. Trade shows are not my favorite places to be, but you gotta go where you gotta go. What I encountered this go-round was that people like to talk on their cell phones while they cruise the show floor. The annoying thing, in addition to being forced to listen to their private conversations, is that most people have difficulty walking and talking at the same time. (Thank heaven they didn't try to chew gum, too.) So what you get is a guy walking down the crowded aisle talking on his cell phone, then abruptly stopping in the middle of everything so that he can make some conversational point with someone a couple of hundred miles away. It goes without saying that when you stop dead in your tracks in the middle of flowing pedestrian traffic, you cause incalculable bodily collisions. A guy walks, talks, stops, and causes chaos in his wake. Multiply this situation by dozens if not hundreds of similar walker/talkers, and you see why I'm particularly peeved.
One other annoyance I discovered at the trade show was the profusion of drag-along briefcases. You know what I'm talking about; the oversized briefcase on wheels with a extending handle, like a airline carry-on but used on the ground. The problem with this particular contraption is the floor space it occupies. One person takes up a certain square footage of floor space; dragging a rolling briefcase behind doubles if not triples the floor space used. The issue, then, is of increased density, as the available floor space is cut in half without the crowd itself expanding.
Then there's the related issue of floor space versus air space. That is, it looks as if you're the proper distance from the person in front of you, but the trailing luggage trips you up. I can't tell you how many times I stumbled over low-riding bags when traffic slowed. Combine the mobile briefcase problem with the mobile phone walk/talk/stop problem and you have a complete breakdown of normal traffic patterns -- and more than a few lawsuits waiting to happen.
My solution? Well, other than staying away from trade shows (which is an excellent suggestion), I keep coming back to a universal cell phone ban in public places. That won't solve the rolling luggage problem, of course, but my question there is just how much shit does a person really need to haul around? I mean, I've never carried such a load that I couldn't heft it with my arm or fling it over my shoulder. If you have to drag it, you need to dump it.
But that's just my opinion; reasonable minds may disagree.