Bleeping Beep

Anyone who has made a trip to the movie theater lately has seen the creative advertisements reminding moviegoers to silence their cell phones. Nobody questions the need for such ads, because we all get the point – it would be really annoying if some guy in front of you (or behind) had a cell phone ringing to the tone of the latest pop hit right at that crucial moment when everyone is leaning into the film.

As a result of such advertisements and signs in specific public places, cell phones do not cause quite the disturbance they are capable of. There is another disturbance [in the force], however, that is much older and far more annoying than the cell phone. I’ve heard many an excuse for these disturbances, and I am aware of potential uses for the perpetrator, but I am this close to coordinating a large-scale movement to have a particular feature of a certain, common, personal electronic device completely abolished.

Please, allow me to share a few ways that these horrid devices have ruined many a special moment for me.

Imagine the feeling: Everything was perfect. We had planned this moment for a long time. As a missionary for my church, I had worked and served and planned so that a new baptism could take place at our meeting house. We filled the baptismal font with perfectly warm water, scrubbing and rinsing it out beforehand so the tiles would shine. We vacuumed the room where the service would be held preceding the ordinance to be carried out. We set out the programs on a table just inside the entrance. We laid out the hymn books, one on each seat for the attendees. We had the white baptismal clothing cleaned the night before and had it hanging, waiting in the changing room. Everything was set up to perfection. The guests all arrived, the young man who was getting baptized, the bishop… Everyone was in their proper place five minutes early. We had a CD player singing beautiful, soft music in the background. What a knockout job of setting the mood for such a memorable day for the new member of our church.

Then, the program started, right on time (of course). A couple of speakers, a special musical performance by a family we had asked to participate, and finally the moment arrived for us to huddle around the baptismal font and carry out the special ordinance. A missionary descended into the water with the young man, who was beaming with glee. They stood in the water, said the pr– BEEP BEEP! What the… ?!? Who… ? How inconsiderate! Of course, the baptism continued without any other incidents, but that moment will be engraved in my mind forever.

One of my earliest memories with this rude, inconsiderate molestation takes me back to middle school and high school. Back then, the BEEP BEEP usually signaled the end of class and I was glad to have it… most of the time. Every once and a while, though, one or a few of them would sound in the middle of a special class, or a moment of silence in the morning.

Now, in my current job we pay a lot of respect to the flag and we hold special ceremonies from time to time. Every once and a while my old nemesis returns to steal the show and get those two BEEPs in as loudly and conspicuously as possible for such a small device.

If and when I have been able to identify the human possessing the bleeping beeping device, I have asked them why they keep that ridiculous hourly alarm on. Some respond with the most ignorant response possible, “I don’t know how to turn it off,” and others just shrug. To those who truly don’t know how to turn it off and were too lazy to consult the instructions or never received them, you know there are people around you that know how to do it. For every one person that doesn’t know how to turn it off, I’ll bet there are at least two who would be willing to try to figure it out for you (and it’d probably only take them a few seconds to actually turn it off).

Of course, these bleeping beeps are not confined to special moments or church events. Oh no, these things go off in movies too. Why in the world would someone silence their cell phone but not their watch? If I don’t want to hear your Brittany Spears cell phone ringer, why would I want to have that jarring BEEP BEEP go off at the climax of the film?

Please, out of respect, turn off your darned hourly timer. If you are one of the rare people who uses it to keep track of how much time has gone by at your job or something, get a separate watch and leave it at work or school. Don’t take it with you to special occasions, movies or anything else where you would be expected to silence your cell phone. It’s just logical, if you think about it, but it’s the considerate, humane thing to do as well.


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April 2008
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