Tuesday, May 17, 2005

A Cautionary Tale

I'm going to tell you all a story that might make you laugh, or wince, or maybe even get angry. Regardless of your reaction, let it be an important lesson about cell phone use while driving.

I lived in Denver for a little over a year. I loved it there, and it seems like I lived there for several years. I met a lot of people and had a lot of fun. One night I was at a birthday party for a friend, and met one of his friends there. She was pretty cool, and we talked a lot about music. Later, the party moved from the bar to an apartment, and this woman and I kept hanging out and talking until about 3, or so. I wasn't very interested in her romantically, but we had a lot in common and I was open to anything developing. I had recently become single, or at least separated. One of the things that came up that night was her messed up relationships with guys in the past. Not in great detail, but she had some problems with a stalker type and other losers. Another topic that arose was the upcoming Breeders reunion show coming to town. She had tickets and I said that I would get tickets and we agreed to meet up there. She gave me her number. The day of the show I left work and decided to call her and make plans for when and where she wanted to meet up. I was in my car when I called.

She wasn't home, and I got her answering machine. She didn't say her name in her outgoing message. I felt uneasy about leaving a message because I wasn't positive I had her number right, and I had never called her before. As I was listening to her message, trying to recognize her voice, I noticed that the lane I was in was about to end. I checked my left-side mirror to make sure that I could get over. I could see, in the mirror, another car coming up behind me, accelerating to pass and not let me get over. Being the passive-aggressive Masshole I am, I started cursing the driver of the car. I believe my exact words were "Ah, you fuckin' cunt, you fuckin' asshole."

Then I noticed that I was still holding my cell phone. You know what cartoon characters look like when they're really shocked? Eyes wide open, mouth agape, large exclamation points shooting out of their heads? That was me.

I pressed the end button immediately. I didn't know what to do. I had no idea what I may have recorded on her answering machine, or if I even got to the recording part. I decided that I had to call back and leave a message explaining the message just to cover the possibility it had been recorded. I called, and told her it was CBK, from the party, and that I was very sorry, but I may have just left an obscenity-laden message on her machine. I was driving, I explained, and had a little bit of road-rage and didn't realize that I was still on the phone. Then I told her that I was going to the club at whatever time and to call me back on my cell to let me know when she and her friends were going to show up. Then all I could do was wait.

I ate some dinner and went to the club, with no word from her. I was hanging out at the club before the opening band started and my phone rang. It was her. She sounded okay, and told me she was on her way. I again said I didn't know what may have been on her machine, but that I was very sorry for the incident. She said it was okay. When she got to the club I learned that it wasn't okay. She had decided not to call me back at all, but a friend of hers told her that she had to, since she had kind of invited me to the show. She was very shaken by the message, and just could not accept that I had done it by accident. "You just don't do that," she kept saying. All I could say was that I did, but it was an accident and was not directed at her. One of her guy friends was there, and when I told him the story he laughed his head off. He had a good attitude about it, although I suspect she had him along to protect her from the psycho she thought I was.

We had a great time at the show and a bunch of us went to an after-hours bar later. She and I talked a bunch, and she told me a lot about her family and her relationship with her dad. Things seemed to be going really well, that I had regained her trust after The Message. She even drove me home.

I called her a couple days later because I had promised to make her a CD of Belly/Tanya Donelly B-sides. She never called me back. Our mutual friend told me that she had some rough experiences with guys so I just let it go. I guess I had done more damage than I thought. I still feel kind of bad, but I also think it's a damn funny story. One for the grandkids.

So you see, talking on your phone while driving can cause more than just car accidents. It can also wreck an innocent person's delicate psyche and ruin the potential for friendship. So be careful out there.

iPod: "Gagged and Tied" by that dog., "I'd Rather Be Wine Drunk" by The City on Film, "Color Pictures of a Marigold" by Foo Fighters, "You" by Pearl Jam, and "Hey Porcupine" by Josh Rouse.