Monday, February 13, 2006

The Culture of Too Busy

Why are you so busy that you have to talk on your cell phone in the rest stop bathroom stall? During the holidays I’m traveling down the highway between Waynesville and Durham. It is a four hour drive that I make fairly often to pick up my daughter. I usually stop at the same rest stop which is about ½ way between the two places. As I walk into the restroom I hear this guy talking. I look around but don’t see anyone, then I realize, he is sitting in the rest stop bathroom stall talking business on his cell phone. A couple of questions came to mind..

One, why are you so busy you have to talk on your cell phone in the rest stop bathroom stall? I mean is there really any deal that can’t wait a few moments. Remember, back in the day, when you were on the cutting edge if you had an answering machine? When you weren’t home, you just weren’t home. They would call back later. Faith Popcorn, the wacky futurist, says that a lot of people are throwing out their electronic communication equipment, selling their suburban homes and moving to the country. She calls it “unplugging.” The day I heard this guy getting all torqued about something he could not control three-hundred miles away sitting in a public restroom, I almost threw out my cell phone…almost.

Two, does the guy on the other line have any idea where you are? Wouldn’t that gross you out? What if you knew that the guy you were talking business with was sitting in a public rest stop bathroom stall? Would that make you respect him more or less? It just seems kind of odd. In our culture it seems that image is everything. What you where, where you live, who you hang out with all define you. We all have skeletons in our closets. Things that would diminish others views of us. I would think this picture would definitely diminish his co-workers opinions of him, plus if you got that mental picture, wouldn’t it be hard to take him seriously ever again?

Lastly, what if he dropped the phone, would he retrieve it? I’m thinking as tied to that piece of equipment as he was, he would definitely dive in for it. This goes to priorities. What matters? It seems t me two things have a chunk of the market shares of our lives, business and busyness. They both will take all you have to give and require more. When I say business, I’m not just talking about vocation, though that is part of it, I’m talking about anything you give your life to. It could be school or work or a hobby, whatever becomes a time-idol for you. Busyness is the same way. Some of us may not concentrate on one thing but spread ourselves to thin that we are constantly in motion. If I have learned nothing else from therapy it is that busyness is usually a coping mechanism to keep us from reflecting and listening to the still small voice in us and outside of us.

So, if you catch me in the bathroom at a rest stop on the phone, remind me to unplug. Five minutes of silence won’t kill me (or you). Stop, shut up and be silent, then you may find that you will be, like me…

Lost in Grace,


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