In the light of the increased use of handphones in Singapore, I would like to present my own unofficial Top Ten list of social no-nos with regards to the use of handphones. This list was compiled with extensive research and expert opinions, namely mine, and its authority on the subject arises from the fact that I have used a handphone for a long time, and I have the free time to write about it.
1. Don't change the housing of the handphone to another design.
Do not change the housing of the handphone, especially to the transparent or gaudy kind. It will void your warranty. Also it is very Beng.
I actually saw a guy look at a faux marble replacement casing for the Nokia Banana phone (the one which is impossible to put into your back pocket unless your right or left butt is shaped like a football), in the window display of a handphone shop, with deep longing in his eyes, like he was looking at the Mona Lisa. And I heard him say to his wife, "Oi, xiao eh, look at that one, that one si beh swee, hor" or loosely translated, "My dear, that is an exquisite piece of art, is that Nokia faux marble casing".
When I say the marble look, I mean the kind of pale marble design you see on the floors of people's HDB flats. Yes dear, these designs exist, appalling as it may sound.
They even have matching batteries, for crying out loud. Myself, I am partial to that faux wood design, but that's just me. My present handphone is a tasteful mottled green.
You will not believe the plethora (I have waited a long time to use this word) of accessories available for handphones. They have replacement antennae (or antennas, as one salesman tolds me) in the original design, short fat design, super-long extendible design, the satellite dish design and the popular gold-ball-on-top design. When you have a gold ball on top of your handphone antenna, it says you have arrived.
They have housings of every colour, with matching batteries, to suit every style and taste (mostly bad).
My friend Carol recently noticed the pronounced bulge in my new handphone number pad after I had changed it, and asked me if I had "changed my pad, ah?". As a guy, I did the sensitive thing that modern sensitive guys do in a situation like this. I laughed at her face.
If you ever feel the need to express yourself and set your handphone apart from others with that transparent blue faux coral design, go and flush your head in the toilet bowl a few times. If your hair comes out curly, then go ahead and get that casing.
2. Do not answer your phone and talk loudly into it while watching a movie.
You would think that this kind of thing would be understood by a person with an IQ of a squid, but no, to this day, I still hear handphones go off in theatres. Go off never mind, the clown goes on to conduct a thirty-two-minute conversation with the other party. By the end of the show, we know what he had for lunch (Fried Hokkien Mee), who he met (Ah Kow from the old neighbourhood) and what show we are watching. Thanks, we needed to know that.
Perhaps it is the darkness in the cinema that affords that sorry excuse for a human being the luxury of letting his handphone go off, and worse, answering it loudly. If they cannot see me, I am not guilty, seems to be the mentality. I suggest a new hi-tech system whereby sophisticated sensors can detect the handphone user in the dark and shine a powerful beam of light and lasers, thereby illuminating the culprit and frying his handphone into popcorn. Or illuminating the handphone and frying the culprit into popcorn, I am not too fussy about these things. Either that or every seat has a big red button to eject yobs like that personally. I think the latter is more fun.
3. Do not fart while using handphone.
Not long ago, while waiting for Ginny to try on some new clothes that she really needed (they always _need_ something -- black pants, white blouse, two-feet-tall platform shoes, you know, the basics), I encountered a guy, dressed very hip, with a happening white cap and all, using his handphone with panache. When I walked past him (I was heading to the hardware department), he happened to let go a 19-megaton nuclear explosion in his pants that killed most of his calculated cool, as well as most of the insects and organisms in a 3-metre radius.
By the time I turned around, which was two seconds later, the guy had moved, like, 3 miles away, and was somewhere in the ladies' lingerie department. I am sure that release was unplanned but it was not a pretty picture, I tell you. That section of the department store was an unusable wasteland for years. I doubt if they would use it for any handphone ads any time soon.
4. Do not pretend to own the handphone if it is not yours.
In the days when handphones were still a costly thing that few could afford (as compared to now, when handphones are a costly thing that students can afford, but you can't), it was a huge deal to be brandishing one, even if it was a huge one and looked like something the Yakuza used to bludgeon small animals to death. It was the Ultimate Fashion Statement to be seen talking into a brick that could make ringing sounds.
Well, there was this guy on the MRT who was carrying a handphone, and though he tried to look like he had owned a handphone all his life, he was obviously failing. This was deduced by the scientific method of observing his posture, method of holding his handphone, and lastly, from the fact that he did not know how to answer the phone when the thing went off. I swear I am not making this up.
He fumbled and jabbed frantically at the buttons as if his life depended on it but eventually, the handphone stopped ringing. Thoroughly embarrassed, his mind started working furiously (you could see the furious lines of thought across his forehead) to figure out a way to redeem his faux pas (translated from French: his "No-More-Face"-ness). Already, the passengers in the same MRT car were either smiling or laughing behind thick novels.
So Mr Handphone decided to end all speculation as to who was the real owner of this handphone by dialing and calling his broker. He proceeded with much purpose, jabbing those buttons and talking loudly for all to see, giving "Buy! Buy!" and "Sell! Sell!" commands to the other party on the phone. All this ended when, in the midst of the very intense conversation he was having, the handphone decided to ring again. Either he had the Ultimate Call Waiting feature, or he was having a conversation with his handphone mic.
By this time, the whole MRT car had erupted in laughter, his fellow passengers no longer able to hold back their glee at the drama unfolding before their eyes. When the train stopped at the next station, the red-faced handphone pretender ran out, never to be heard of again. He was last seen running towards the Straits of Malacca.
So let that be a warning to you. Make sure you have the ringer "off" when you pretend to talk to your broker in the MRT.
5. Do not use your handphone without a hands-free kit while driving
I cannot stress this enough. It always baffles me as to why rich dudes driving huge cars that cost more than my 3-room flat cannot afford to buy a $400 car-kit or $70 hands-free kit for their 24k-gold-plated handphones. These are the same guys who paid $39,000 for the _number plate_ of their car so that it says "S 3 X".
In effect, these guys are driving around in their big (and sometimes mid-range) cars proclaiming, "WE ARE TOO CHEAP TO BUY A CAR KIT!"
Oh, I know I am going to get some irate letters from people who use their handphones this way protesting that they have hit only small animals so far. Of course they will always tell you that they know what they are doing and have full control of the car, even when they almost slammed their car into yours two seconds ago while chatting with their girlfriends on the ECP.
Still, I am going to come right out and say this: I don't think that the present laws are harsh enough to deal with this menace. If I had my way, anyone who is caught using a handphone in this manner should have electricity and/or blunt tools applied to their private parts. But that's just me.
Either that or we could have the offender stand in the middle of a road, while five one-armed guys drive around him using their handphones with one hand. We could make it into a public education program with amateur actors, like "Crimewatch" or "Shiver", and call it "Manhunter: True Life Handphone Offenders and Other Pond Scum" ("Hi, I am Joe Washed. I used to be a regular guy until some handphone-using driver rammed his BM into my DOHC Wagon R, damaging my BigBoy subwoofer and UFO soft toys beyond repair. Today, I spend my life tracking down toenail dirt like this...").
It should be a surefire hit with housewives and small school children.
Aside from the safety aspect, it is also difficult to do other important car-driving things when you use your handphone this way, like adjusting the stereo, fiddling with the air-conditioning or picking your teeth, fidgety stuff that guys do in their cars that their wives never quite understand.
6. Do not use the hands-free kit while walking.
Many people these days (I am thinking insurance/property agents and contractors here) walk around talking to themselves loudly. At first glance, they seem to need serious medical attention, but a second look convinces you it is worse than that, they are using their hands-free kits while walking.
To the uninitiated, a hands-free kit is a handphone accessory you buy that allows you to use your phone through a earphone-like wire that has a microphone attached. This means you can carry out important conversations without using your hands, like when you are hanging on for your dear life in a crowded bus or when you are engaged in heavy paperwork and serious business in the toilet.
While this is certainly convenient for the handphone user, it is extremely disconcerting for those around him, because nobody knows if he is about to take out a machete and hack everyone to death. I once saw this lady literally shouting on her way up a double-decker, causing the driver and passengers to look at her like she came from Planet Zorkon.
What is worse are those who use their hands-free kit by holding the dangling microphone near the mouth with one hand. Morons-1, Hands-free-0. It also makes them look like they are talking to their medication, holding that pill-sized mic that way.
I think it is a new fashion statement, this hands-free thing. I have seen people proudly walking around with the ear-piece surgically attached to their ears, as if to say, "I am such a busy person, I have no time to even lift up my handphone. Everybody calls me all the time! That is why I got my neighbourhood surgeon to permanently attach this wire to my head."
I would hate for the day when handphones and faxes get so advanced that they sell a body kit, that places the whole dang handphone or fax machine into your body so that there is nothing to carry and no appendages (except the natural ones) sticking out. Then you would probably see guys with constipated looks on their faces, like they are about to give birth to a small whale, when all they are doing is receiving a fax.
Still, hands-free kits have their place, in cars when you don't want to buy a car kit that usually costs more than the phone itself, and that requires the mechanic to rip your car apart to install and un-install. That would definitely put a damper on your plans to buy that new handphone model with built-in Microsoft Explorer Lite when it arrives ("We are NOT trying to extend our Windows monopoly to the handphone market!") . As is almost always the case, the new models will require a different, more expensive car kit and hands-free kit ("New improved model! Uses 9-pin adapter instead of the previous 8-pin one, because we felt like it!").
7. Do not set your handphone to play cute tunes.
Phones used to make only one sound. They rang. Then handphones came along and still, they rang. Then the competition got too hot and a features war broke out. Handphone manufacturers the world over, having included their last useful feature ("O.00025mhz more coverage!"), decided to do the next best thing in Product Differentiation. They gave us the Ringing Tones From Hell.
Now we can hear the Standard, Low, Medium and High rings, as well as 8 other melodies that only morons would use as their ringing sounds. So everyone, including me, used one of those 8. And the melodies aren't what you would call Top Forty material either. They weren't even Bottom Forty. They were melodies rejected by manufacturers of the "On Hold" feature of major PABX phone systems in most of the Free World.
In a bid to sound different from everyone else, everyone chose to use the same melodies, so now no one knows whose phone is ringing still. One handphone company even went further. They allowed their customers to program their own melodies into their phones. Great. Now we will get to hear The Macarena (Hokkien dance version) too.
8. Do not use your handphone in Classical Music Concerts.
With most handphones containing bad renditions of Andy Williams' "My Way" and Handel's "Messiah", it would not be wise to let your handphone go off in an SSO concert. This would affect the real classical piece of music that the orchestra is playing, since your version of the "Messiah" may not be in the same key. This is Cultural Suicide. Like clapping between movements, only worse.
The best device to use in these circumstances would be the vibrator attachment, a handy handphone accessory that attaches to your handphone so that instead of a loud ringing sound, it will give you a loud vibrating buzz. These vibrators should be used with caution, as they have the subtlety of stampeding buffalo, and should be used in combination with thick underwear. Most manufacturers do not provide any warranty against damaged bodily parts from improper use of this accessory.
9. Do not wear your handphone.
In the past, handphones were so huge you would have a hard time carrying it with a forklift, let alone clip it on your belt. Now they have models small enough to slip into your trouser pocket that won't look like you have deformed genitals and/or a permanent erection. So what did the manufacturers do? Make chains and other arm-bands to allow you to _wear_ your handphone.
So you will soon be seeing fashionable people with their handphones around their necks, expensive items that will almost certainly strangle them when someone tries to grab their phones, whereas in the past, all you lost from a stolen handphone were your phone, your dignity and maybe your pants.
After all that effort to make a handphone as small as possible to fit into your Gucchee handbag or Ah Beng baggy pants, so that you won't look like a crass show-off or a used-car salesman (not that I am suggesting any links between the two, you understand), they ask you to wear your five-gazillion-dollar handphone (that cost so much because they had to make the parts as small a flea's gonads to get the phone that size) way out there in the open.
"Come and rob and strangle me!" is a sign you may as well be wearing around your neck, or "Yank my chain because I am a hopeless fashion victim!", or "Moo!" (cows have their communications devices hung around their necks too).
I am making this clarion call to stop this madness before they make the phones any smaller and ask you to wear them as earrings or God forbid, navel and nipple rings. And people _will_ do it. Then you will have people having chats with their nipples. Think also of the battery charging problems _that_ will bring -- "Not now, ma, I am charging my nipple ring handphone battery in the wall socket!" Then you will really have some major social and health problems.
10. Do not use your handphone near stereos and sensitive equipment
As many handphone users know, some handphone models emit extremely high amounts of, I am going to get real technical here, Some Kind of Radiation. This can wreak havoc on stereos and speakers. My own research has shown that these are really the Evil Rays of Doom and Bad Skin. I base this conclusion on the fact that Bruce Banner became The Incredible Hulk through his exposure to massive doses of Handphone Rays when a bookie was shouting numbers into his handphone nearby. That is the reason he became this ugly, bad-tempered guy with green skin (Bruce, not the bookie. The bookie became Dr Doom). But they covered it all up to prevent a public panic.
This is why handphones are not allowed in aircraft and in hospitals. Apparently, the handphone emissions mess up readings on sensitive equipment. ("Captain, the plane's odometer tells us that we are showing the wrong in-flight movie!" "Mien Gott, Hans! Prepare for crash landing!") On the other hand, it may all be a ploy to get rid of the Evil Yob Who Uses His Handphone Loudly In Inappropriate Places. ("I am in NUH, N-U-H! Yes, I am here for that breast enlargement. No, BREAST EN-LARGE-MENT!")
Still, I can see where all the hoo-hah comes from. My own handphone can pick up metal paper clips and even metal rulers. I use it in social functions all the time. It is a great way to break the ice. Ever since I learned how to use my handphone in this way, I have become more attractive, regained my self-esteem and accomplished world peace! You can too. Call the NUMBER on the screen RIGHT NOW and we will ALSO send you losers, um, viewers a few FREE MAGIC TRICKS to impress the BABES! That's right, discover the NEW YOU with our handphone tricks and washboard abs. With our 30-day money-back guarantee, you can't lose!
Let's see, where was I? Oh yes. Also, when my handphone goes off, stereo equipment in the immediate vicinity collectively cry out in some kind of Mournful Cry of Appliance Angst, not unlike a cow in labour (not that I would know exactly how that sounds like). I once witnessed my handphone in the living room cause the stereo in my bedrooms to do The Cry, through the walls and closed doors! That is the kind of awesome force we are dealing with, my friends.
Recently, there is even talk that handphones can make ABS brakes fail. That is still unconfirmed. I personally believe that it is _permed hair_ on men that cause ABS brake failure. Or it could be a combination of both.
I am told that these mysterious Handphone Rays of Doom can even cause brain damage to heavy users. I personally think that this is hogwash. I use my handphone everyday and I don't see any -- did I ever tell you that I was a Llama in a previous life? No, really, the animal. I was the Grand Llama of Panama Who Ate Bananas in My Pajamas -- side effects. So I really don't see any need to worry.
Besides, would I be writing useful, life-affirming articles like this if I had any brain damage?