August 22, 2006

Multitasking is not always a good thing

Like most 21st-century, technologically current folks, I have a cell phone. And I have been known to use that cell phone while walking to/from the metro, on the way to errands, or just standing outside. I also, from time to time, make and take calls while in my car (hands-free, of course). All of these activities qualify as normal, to me, in today's society. Even on the morning metro, I don't much blink when someone pulls out the phone to alert the World Above that the metro is delayed. Again. But that's a whole other rant.

The reason I bring it up: I was walking home from a dinner-grab Monday night, and I saw something that baffled me then, and continues to baffle me now. It started out innocently enough. I was walking along Fairfax Dr across from the IHOP, and I saw a woman coming towards me, out for an evening jog. Mid-40s, I'm guessing, reasonable pace, the kind of thing you see all the time.

But then I noticed that her mouth was moving. I thought perhaps she was tired, maybe she's at the end of her run and huffing a little bit. Perfectly normal, I'm still thinking.

As she gets closer, I realize that she's talking. Now bear in mind, I'm the only person in sight on this side of the street, which might suggest that she's saying something to me. Odd, but not out of the question.

But no. As she jogs by, I see the black wire dangling down from her ear.

She's talking on the phone.

While she's jogging.

Let me repeat that, in case it got by you the first time -

She's jogging while talking on a cell phone. Both at the same time.

Look, I'm not against jogging; I give plenty of credit to anyone who can run more than 100 feet in a straight line without needing a meal/nap break. More power to you. Nor am I against cell phones, as the intro clearly establishes. But together? Wha?

This bothers me on a couple of levels. First, it smacks of self-importance. This person is so important, so popular, with a schedule so crowded, that she's booked to the point where the people clamoring for her attention have to share her with a couple-mile run. So you're shortchanging your friend/colleague/anonymous mole by diverting your focus from the conversation to your pace, how far you have left to go, and oh, I don't know, maybe breathing and staying upright. And speaking of breathing, being able to carry on a normal conversation while running suggests that you aren't running fast enough. I don't know a whole lot about running (mostly flashbacks to Cross-Country. Ick.), but I'm pretty sure that you're shortchanging your workout by trying to run and catch up on Desperate Housewives at the same time. So basically, everybody loses.

Listen closely, ma'am. Come in right up next to the screen, so we're sure not to misunderstand each other:

You are not that important, popular, or busy. It can wait. Put the phone down, run, then talk to your friends. If something is critical enough to make you want to talk about it while you run, postpone the run. The street will be there later. If you really need to get your run in right then, whoever it is will gladly wait the half hour it will take you to get it done. Trust me. If the President of the United States isn't on the phone when he's riding his mountain bike, you don't need to be on the phone when you're running. I assure you you're not as busy as he is, no matter how much vacation he takes. (Although really, that would at least make a reasonable excuse for crashing into a tree, wouldn't it? Or the pretzel-choking would have made much more sense if he'd been on the phone with Blair, who had just made a hilarious bangers-and-mash joke. But I digress)

Which brings me to my next question: who are these people who agree to talk to someone while they're running? I don't mind talking to someone while they're eating, but come on. Do you really want to be on the other side of a phone call with someone halfway through Mile 4? I don't. If I want heavy breathing in my conversation, I'll call a phone sex line like a normal person. Sure it's expensive, but it saves me the risk of mixed messages, and I say you can't put a price on peace of mind. Or maybe I can; it's roughly $3.99 per minute.

So please, jog-talkers out there, pick an activity and stick with it. Or, if you can't get your head around that, I hear they're looking for people at 1-900-HOT-BABE.

In which case, I guess I'll talk to you soon after all.


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