Drugan-Eppich: Is anyone even listening?

Bret Belden

From the Loser

By Tim Drugan-Eppich

don’t really use my phone, which can make me feel stupendously silly in a world where everyone is always on his or her device.

I don’t know where I missed the point to jump on the boat; perhaps I got a phone too late and never learned the practice, but suddenly the ways that I communicate are frowned upon. People act awfully strange when I strike up a conversation at the bus stop regarding the surprising lack of tissues in public places. I mean, considering the almost universal need to blow your nose, you would think that there would be a tissue box in every public venue. But no, tissues are incredibly tough to come by, and you usually end up blowing your nose into some flimsy piece of toilet paper that falls apart, leaving you with boogers in your palm instead of in the tissue where they belong.

Now that might be an odd topic to bring up with a complete stranger, but still, it warrants a response, right? Or am I a crazy person to think that not saying anything to someone who just spoke to you is a touch rude. And even if I am a crazy person, then it would be to your benefit to engage in a conversation with me, for often crazy people provide the most insightful conversations. I once had a man tell me my sweater provided a direct link to a reindeer’s inner thoughts. He didn’t specify whether it pertained to a single reindeer, or the herd. Now, I could have freaked out and moved swiftly away. But if I had done so, I never would have heard that, because the softness of the sweater was the same as that of the reindeer’s antlers, and therefore had a link to its thoughts, that made my sweater…well, he explained it better. Anyway, I am not stating a fact as insane as a sweater providing some psychic link to one of Santa’s transporters, I am simply stating a very reasonable observation about tissues that directly impacts everyone’s happiness, so why am I being ignored?

Perhaps I am in the wrong, because like I said, I am not well versed in technology, so there might be something I am missing. I don’t actually know what people look at when they are on their phones, so it could be urgent to the point that they don’t have time to ramble on about how irritated a horse pulling a carriage would be if it understood what a car was. At least it seems urgent. I’ve seen people scrolling on their phones as they get on the bus. They make the step from the curb to the first step of the bus without their eyes leaving the screen. Unless you are learning some fiercely important information, the risk of an ankle injury is not worth it. So of course I’ve assumed they must be finding out how to prevent all kinds of cancer, or learning how to instantly make all of their hopes and dreams come true.

But in my investigations, when I peer over shoulders to catch a glimpse of the action taking place on these devices, I must come to the conclusion that no great insights are imparted through the content on these tiny screens. Instead I am met with a series of memes, motivational quotes, and twitter verses – all most likely forgotten as quickly as they are read. Which makes me wonder, how is this more pressing than addressing the issue that I am trying to speak with you about? Don’t you also feel strongly that we should bring back bathrooms without stalls so we could take care of business while taking care of business?

Even as I wish people would pay me more attention in person, I have come to accept that I am destined to ponder on my own. Destined to mutter to myself while waiting for class to begin, debating both sides of the argument of whether a swirled soft serve is really just a watered-down chocolate, or a ruined vanilla.

But the real issue lies in my learning how to communicate through these devices, something that never ceases to frustrate me, and cause profound amounts of stress.

I thought I had figured out the technique of communication through a phone, and that was by speaking into it. But lately every time I call someone, they are upset that I wouldn’t just text them. I hate texting because people can avoid you, which is what everybody else probably likes about it, especially when conversing with me.

I’m sure in this day and age most people have the experience of not having a message responded to, but most people are used to it. I’m not. Since my parents were adamant about me not having a phone, I missed out on learning how to wait for messages. This leads me to have a short patience, and an even shorter temper. When trying to figure out plans, I am often left stomping around my house bustling and flustering about the horrible state of our communications system. But can I do anything about it? Nope.

I guess from now on my life is going to consist of waiting incredible lengths of time for an answer to questions that could have been answered immediately over the phone, or face to face. And I suppose that no longer will I pull someone into a meaningful conversation while on the street waiting for the cross signal. But I’ll keep on trying, because if I can find a woman that wants to join me, face to face, in a conversation about tissue placement in public places, I’ll marry her.

Tim Drugan-Eppich is a junior majoring in English.