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From cigarette to cell phone
They are equally annoying

By Jalil Mortazavi
October 31, 2003
The Iranian

The other day Don Imus angrily told his executive producer, Bernard McGuirk, "Why don't you go out and tell those fat pigs not to smoke in the doorway." What he was referring to some young ladies, who are employed by the radio station.

Of course I can understand Imus' feelings about this. As an independent blind person I use two out of five senses more frequently when I travel every day. One is smell, and the other is of course is hearing.

Several years before all the smoking laws whenever I walked into some public buildings the very first thing I could smell was the cigarette smoke. I knew then that I had just entered into the lobby. Thanks to the smoking laws, now when I leave the building I immediately experience the smell of smoke. I cannot figure out when people take the time to come out to smoke why don't they walk several feet away from the entrance and continue smoking.

Thanks to health education and public awareness some people quit this habit, and replaced it with cell phones. This to is equally annoying. From smokers to speakers can be a little bit confusing to most blind people. Cell phones to most people are like the crutch they lean on, when they are nervous and don't know what to do with their hands, they pick up the phone.

Years ago when people used to come out of the train or the plane they would they would reach into their pocket for their cigarettes, now they reach in for their cell phone. When I hear a cell phone conversation, it boils down to this, "I just got here, now I am going inside and I will call you as soon as I am done." This of course is harmless, but consider my confusing encounters with some of the cell phone users.

When I travel alone, I hear people walking towards me saying, "Hi, how are you doing?"

"Good thanks."

Or a young lady the other day came right at me and said, "Hi, honey, how are you?"

"Good", I said. "Who is this?" Then I learned that she was on a cell phone.

The most embarrassing moment for me was when I was visiting The Boston Four Season's Hotel. I had to use the men's room. As soon as I walked in I could hear someone say, "Hey how ya doing?"

"Good", I replied. "How are you?"

Then the gentleman said, "What's going on with you?"

When I started to tell him that I came to see the Don Imus Show, then I heard him say, "Be quiet I'm on the phone?"

Can you imagine my public em-bare-ass-ment? Now I worry that someone sooner or later is going to decide that you cannot use cell phones inside public places. They will be banned. The people will have to go out to use their cell phones. Now there will be both smokers and speakers at the entrance of any building. Now I wonder if there will be any spot left for Jehovah Witnesses? Will pedestrians like myself have to use the street to get by?

I am afraid most drivers are likely to be on a cell phone as well. Can they see me with white cane when I walk by or do I have to watch out for them? Let's hope we don't have to come to that.


Jalil Mortazavi is a freelance writer. His recent book is What I Learned In America.

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What I Learned In America
By Jalil Mortazavi

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