Monday, October 29, 2018

Phubbing = Phone + Snubbing

(Phone + Snubbing)

First – let me tell you a story from my Navy Days.

This story around 40 years ago – in the end 1970’s – much before the advent of Mobile Phones.

Yes – those days – the only phones available were “Landline” Phones.

I was busy working in my office.

As was my habit – whenever I was doing something important – I had kept the phone off the hook.

My deputy knocked and entered my office.

I gave him an angry look.

He looked at me apologetically – and said to me:

“Sir – I am sorry. You told us not to disturb you – but – Boss has gone crazy…”

“So – what’s new in that…? The bugger is “crazy”…” I said.

“Sir – he wants you in his office immediately. He was trying to call you for the last 10 minutes – and your phone is dead…” my deputy said.

“My phone is not “dead” – I have deliberately kept it off the hook because I don’t want to be disturbed…” I said.

“Sir – the Boss said to tell you that he wants to see you in his office immediately…” my deputy said.

“Okay – Okay – you sit down…” I motioned to my deputy.

I put the phone on the hook – picked it up again – and – checked the dial tone.

Then – I dialled my Boss’s number.

“Come to my office immediately…” my Boss barked at me via the phone.

“Sir, I am very busy right now. Can I come later – in the afternoon – after lunch…?” I asked him.

“No. You come right now. I want to discuss “XXX” project – I need some clarifications…” my Boss shouted – and he banged down the phone.

At first – I thought that I would first complete the work I was doing.

And then – after finishing the urgent work in hand – I would go to my Boss’s Office.

That was the sensible thing to do.

But then – my Boss was a most rank-conscious authoritarian megalomaniac.

Though I wasn’t a “Yes Sir, Yes Sir, Three Bags Full Sir” type of Officer – the Navy is a military service – and – there is a limit to which one can reason with a Senior Officer – especially if he was like my conceited egotistical autocratic Boss.

So – I stopped whatever I was doing – and – I took out the Project “XXX” file from my drawer.

Then – I put on my cap – and – I started walking down to the Main Building of the Dockyard – where my Boss’s Office was located.

It was a hot and humid day in Mumbai – the main building was around 500 meters away from my workplace – and – by the time I reached my Boss’s Office – I was sweating profusely.

I entered my Boss’s Office.

My Boss was sitting at his desk – leaning back on his chair – talking on the phone.

I saluted him.

My boss ignored me.

Maybe he was so engrossed in the telephonic conversation – that he probably hadn’t noticed my salute.

I stood in front of him for around one minute.

I thought that he would terminate his telephonic conversation – and speak to me – at least ask me to sit down.

But – no such luck.

He was very much absorbed in the telephonic conversation.

I could overhear that he was speaking about shares and the stock market.

Suddenly – he leaned forward – picked up a pencil – and – he made some notes on a pad in front of him on the desk.

I felt humiliated.

My Boss was treating me as if I did not exist.

I turned around – and I walked out of his office.

My Boss’s pretty PA asked me: “Sir – you’ve finished so fast…?”

“He is so busy talking on the phone that he doesn’t seem to have time for me…” I said.

“Yes, Sir – his “Broker” just called – the stock market is going crazy since morning – so – he must be discussing about which stocks and shares to trade in…” she said.

“Oh…” I said – and – I started walking away.

“Sir, please wait – he has been asking for you since morning…” my Boss’s PA said.

On hearing this – I said to my Boss’s PA:

“I was busy with some important work. Despite this – I came walking all the way in the hot sun because he insisted. And now – he just ignores me – and – he keeps talking on the phone…? This is not acceptable to me – so – I am going back to my office…”  

I walked back to my office.

I took the phone off the hook – told my staff that I was not to be disturbed – and – I got on with the unfinished task of completing the urgent work.

One hour later – my Boss stormed into my office.

He started shouting at me:

“What’s wrong with you…? You did you walk away rudely from my office…?”

I said softly but firmly:

“Sir – I am an Officer. Since you insisted – I walked all the way to your office. You had called me – I was standing in front of you – but – you ignored me – and you gave more importance to person on the phone…”

My Boss yelled at me:

“Stop bullshitting me. I will march you up to the Admiral…”

I picked up my cap and said:

“Okay, Sir – let’s go – I am going to ask the Admiral what was the right thing for you to do – talk to your Officer who is standing in front of you – or – talk to your “Stock Broker” on the phone…?”

My Boss did not march me up to the Admiral.

He just uttered a few threats and walked away.

In the afternoon – I called up my Boss’s PA – took a proper appointment – walked down to his office – and I explained details of Project “XXX” – for which he had summoned me in the morning.

His phone was quiet for the 15 minutes I was with him.

On my way out – I commented on this to his PA – who told me that the Boss had instructed her to see that he was not disturbed by phone calls when I was inside.

Dear Reader:

Do you believe that this is a true story…?

Could I have really bullshitted my Boss…?

Am I one of those crazy mavericks…?

Maybe my course-mates and erstwhile colleagues can give you the answers.

Meanwhile – let’s just say that this is a “Fiction Short Story”.

It does not matter whether the above story is true or not.

What matters is the moral of the story:

It is always rude to pay more attention to a phone than a person standing in front of you in flesh and blood.

First – talk to the person who is physically with you – then – talk to the person on the phone.

This “moral of the story” is even more applicable after the advent of mobile phones – and especially today – in the context of smartphones.

I try to practice what I preach (and preach what I practice) – though I do slip up sometimes – but – at least – I try my best.

Sometime ago – a blogger wanted to meet me in person to discuss blogging.

We were sitting in a Café and talking.

My mobile phone rang.

I ignored the phone.

The Blogger said:

“Your mobile is ringing…”

I said:

“I know. Let it ring. I am talking to you…”

The Blogger said:

“It may be something important…”

I said:

“Right now – you are the most important thing for me. I will see the missed call later – and – if I feel it is necessary – I will call the person. In any case – I don’t work for an emergency services agency where I have to attend every call and act instantly…”

In order to make the Blogger feel comfortable – I switched off my mobile phone – and I asked her to switch off her mobile too – reminding her that it was she who had wanted to meet me.

It was easy during the mobile cellphone days – but with ever since I got a smartphone – and – I became a “Photo Food Blogger” – things have become difficult.

So – now – whenever we go out for food – I first announce that I am going to focus my attention on clicking pictures of the food.

Then – I click my foodie pictures and upload them on social media immediately.

After that – I keep my smartphone away and give my full attention to my friends, and, of course, to the food.

Dear Reader – to summarize “Mobile Etiquette” in a nutshell:

It is always rude to pay more attention to a phone than a person with you in flesh and blood.

If you give priority to your phone and ignore the person in front of you – it is called “Phubbing” (Phone + Snubbing).

Don’t indulge in “Phubbing”.

We do “phubbing” unconsciously – don’t we…?

Suppose you are talking to someone – and your mobile phone rings – don’t you instinctively pick up your mobile…?

And – don’t you tend to give more importance to the person talking on mobile rather than the person physically with you…?

Dear Reader – you may ask me:

“In case your phone rings while you are talking to a person – is it okay to “excuse” yourself and then talk on the smartphone...?”

No – unless you are on duty and are required to attend to emergency/urgent situations as a part of your work.

Remember – you can always see the missed call numbers and call after you have finished talking to the person in front of you.

While you are talking to someone – it is not acceptable to answer phone-calls, do texting, tweeting or engage on social media, or even repeatedly glance at your smartphone screen – yes – all these things are not acceptable.

In case you are expecting calls – isn’t it better to tell the person who is with you that you will be busy attending calls and you can talk to the person later when you are free…?

Or – if you are awaiting an important call when meeting someone socially – isn’t it best to explain at the outset that you will have to take the call – and – apologize in advance – and if the call comes – excuse yourself and take the call privately…?

Dear Reader:

What are your views on “Phubbing”…?

Do comment and tell us. 


Copyright © Vikram Karve 
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© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

1. This story is a fictional spoof, satire, pure fiction, just for fun and humor, no offence is meant to anyone, so take it with a pinch of salt and have a laugh.
2. All stories in this blog are a work of fiction. Events, Places, Settings and Incidents narrated in the stories are a figment of my imagination. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

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