Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Cell Phones, Who Needs 'em? Eh Sonny?

When you work in finance and you're an analyst you spend a lot of time staring at numbers. When you're not staring at numbers, you're staring at a computer screen. Often times you're staring at numbers on a computer screen--or if you're me, you're staring at the clock on the computer screen (which technically is comprised of numbers). Breaks are not only important, they're like lifeblood. And no, I'm not exaggerating. Try and get in the way of us geeks on the way to our morning shots of espresso--we'd mow over a grandma.

So after the morning coffee run and lunch, afternoons stretch long--a highway if you will, with no exits until quittin' time. It starts to get strangely quiet when you take into account the food coma and the fact that we're financial geeks churning out reports like it's goin' out of style ... that is, if they ever were in style. Often times right around 3:00 everyone is looking for an excuse to chat, but no one wants to make the first move, for fear of disrupting the quiet. And then it happens ... someone sneezes and about six people say "Bless You!" simultaneously. That gets everyone up to chat for a bit and that's all it takes. If the flap of a hummingbird wing can cause a tidlewave on the other side of the world, a sneeze can get a group of analysts out of their cubicles in Portland.

The conversations vary--some can be as mundane as who has the least amount of seniority, for it is they who will make the requisite snack run (deemed "you fly, I'll buy" at Goldman Sachs, thanks Digs). Often times the afternoon chats can be politically charged ... or they would be if any of us were republicans. And sometimes, like today they're oddly reassuring.

Today's chat was about our respective parents' utter lack of ability to use cell phones.

Our parents are all relatively successful people, who raised relatively successful children but the thought of a phone not attached to the wall is a veritable quandry to them. It's a display of ineptitude of such magnificent proportion that it caused enough fodder for a good 20 minutes of story telling. So here we go:

1) My mom has the ghetto cell phone that you buy when you have bad credit. You know the pay ahead kind? Yes, she has the cell phone version of a layaway plan. In addition, her phone is a good five years old and has this incredibly loud screech/alarm/death toll that occurs any time she turns it on. In addition to the loud shriek of a sound my mom's phone makes, it always has the courtesy of telling her exactly how many minutes she has left on her "plan." This number? A complete mystery to my mother every time she hears it. It baffles her every time that she could have that many minutes left! Regardless, any time my sister and I are with her we graciously allow her use of our phones to which she always replies "oh thank you, this is NICE," she says while shoving her analog phone back into her tote bag.

2) M will leave a message for her parents on their cell phones. The message they never listen to which she discovered after they called her back asking all the same questions she had left answers to on their voicemail not ten minutes earlier. So she decided to stop leaving messages when she called them, figuring they'd see she rang and give her a call back. At least she tried, until they called her in such a panic wondering if something had happened to her where she was so injured she couldn't leave a message.

3) K's mother in law had accidentally been answering her cell phone on speaker. Everyone could hear her conversation, while she was talking into the mouthpiece and holding it up to her ear like normal. "I thought it was kind of loud," she said after having it explained to her.

Statistics, they're rarely 100% accurate, right? Not in our group. We all discovered that the only time any of our parents turn their phones on is when they are either making a call or know for sure someone will be calling them (eg. airport pick ups, etc). Ahh the parents, you've got to love them or else they'd drive you crazy ... I think I'll go call them right now ... on their cell phones, where I know they won't pick up.

Funny cell phone/parent story? Jump on in and tell me about it, it's way too quiet in this place! Do I have to sneeze?