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Blue-Tooth Makes Me See Red

We’ve all grown accustomed to the convenience cell phones offer. When I was a teenager, during the preppy years, I wore “penny” loafers. Instead of slipping a penny into each shoe, I used dimes in case I needed to find a payphone and make an emergency call. Now, my cell phone is always with me and I haven’t seen penny loafers or a working payphone in years. One of the advances with cell phone technology is blue-tooth, the opportunity to operate the phone without actually having to hold it in your hands. In theory, having your hands free will enable you to be a safer driver.

In order to make hands-free calls in my old car, I had to remember to stick a device in my ear when I entered the car. I always forgot to do this and was only reminded to put in the ear piece after I heard the phone ring. The call would go to voicemail and I would wait until I stopped at the next light before fumbling around trying to get the device to actually stay in my ear.  If I did manage to put the ear piece in before the light turned green, I had to wait until the next red light to actually dial the phone to return the call I had missed. Usually, once my jaw began to move while speaking, the device would fall out of my ear and wedge itself between the seat and the car door. Its usefulness left much to be desired.

My new car has the latest blue-tooth technology. When I picked up the car at the dealer, he synched up my phone and car. This is the technological equivalent of introducing them to each other. I have no idea what he did, but there was a lot of button-pushing. Once I was synched up, I enjoyed trying out the new technology. I discovered that when I hear the muffled ringtone coming from the deep recesses of my purse, my car rings like a vintage telephone. When I answer the call, a disembodied voice surrounds me in stereo.

Shortly after learning how to actually answer a call with my steering wheel, I realized that I don’t have caller ID. How am I supposed to answer a call when I don’t know who is on the other end? It seems so primitive to just pick up a ringing phone willy-nilly and not know who is on the other end. Since caller ID has become so commonplace, most of us no longer identify ourselves to the person on the receiving end of the call. This poses a problem in the car. The phone rings and I say hello. The caller, who doesn’t know I’m in the car and doesn’t realize that I don’t know who they are, launches into a story. I’m not sure what the etiquette is for that situation. Do I stop them in mid-sentence to say, “Who is this?” or should I   answer the phone with “Who are you?” rather than “hello?” Instead of seeming rude, I listen intently, analyze the voice and content of the conversation and guess who it is on the other end of the phone.  I like to think of it as a private game show.

Answering phone calls with the blue-tooth without caller ID is a small problem compared to the issues I have when making a call.  With the voice activated system, I am able to push a button, say a contact name or number and my car secretary makes the call for me. That’s what’s supposed to happen. Let’s just say that my blue-tooth and I have some communication problems.

It seems promising each time I press the button and the cheerful chime signifies that my car is listening and at my service. A woman’s voice tells me to say a command. If I don’t speak fast enough, she launches into a menu of options. I’ve learned to speak quickly and enunciate clearly. Despite this, our communication problems persist. After 4 months, I have been able to successfully make a hands-free call to the person I intended to call about 25 percent of the time. Usually my exchange with my car goes like this:

(cheerful chime)

“Please say a command,” she says.

“Call Oregano.”

“Call work?” she asks.

“No, call O-REG-A-NO,” I say enunciating each syllable.

“Call Hurley?” she asks again trying to be helpful.

I’m losing my patience, “NO! CALL OREGANO!” I yell.

The car seems equally frustrated, “Select an option from the menu.”

She proceeds to run through a list of likely choices from my contact list, none of which is Oregano. I can’t interrupt her because she doesn’t understand me when I do. So, I wait politely for her to finish her speech and try again following the instructions she has just given me.

“Call Oregano,” I say through clenched teeth, hardly containing the frustration in my voice.

“Call home?” she asks.

Not this again. I push the button to end our argument. I drive a few more miles, let both of our tempers simmer down and try again.

(cheerful chime)

“Call home.”  Maybe if I try a one syllable word I’ll have better luck.

“Call mmmmm,” she mumbles.

I grip the steering wheel tighter, lean closer to the speaker near the window and yell, “NO! CALL HOME!”  I can only imagine what I must look like to drivers passing by.

“Call home?” she asks.

Ah ha! Success! “Yes,” I say greatly relieved.

She responds not with the sound of a ringing phone, but with, “I didn’t understand. Your choices are yes, no or help.”

I don’t think the help she is offering is going to help me with my mounting anger and frustration. I take a deep breath. With one last try, I say yes very calmly and clearly.

“Calling home,” she says. We’re both exhausted from our exchange.

Finally, my car stereo rings like a phone. Oregano picks up the other end, “Are you on your way home?” he asks.

“Yes, I just pulled into the garage.”

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Many thanks to Judy at for presenting me with The Lovely Blog Award. Judy’s blog is always interesting to read. She varies her topics and the writing is always first-rate.  Stop by and see for yourself.

About Paprika Furstenburg

I was born with an overly developed sense of humor and poor coordination. The combination of these two character traits has taught me humility and given me the perspective to find the funny in everyday experiences.

58 responses »

  1. Reblogged this on The Eclectic Attick and commented:
    WOW! Jeremy Clarkson with a dress… amazing what a difference an accent makes and I can hear them both screaming at their cars about whom to dial…. hehehe….

    • So glad you enjoyed the post enough to share it with your readers.

      It’s been almost a year with that blue-tooth bitch and I still can’t get her to follow my instructions. If it’s raining or I have the sunroof open. Forget it! I’ve taken to dialing the number on the phone and then talk through the speakers. I find the blue-tooth bitch and I get along much better that way.

  2. Reblogged this on Musings of a Mild Mannered Man and commented:
    lol, this made me chuckle! I don’t drive, but I have had many encounters of my father having a very similar problem to this, the only issue is he’s partially deaf, and that causes innumerable issues with his blue-tooth activation in his car, much to my hilarity…

    • So glad you enjoyed the post. Thanks for reblogging. I hope your readers enjoy it too.

      I hadn’t even thought about what a challenge the blue-tooth would be for someone with a hearing loss or even someone with an accent. I’m laughing just thinking about the arguing that must go on in that scenario.

      Thanks for taking the time to read and comment.

  3. Reblogged this on talkmusicgh.

  4. I started blogging today for the first time, and have stumbled upon yours, very glad I did. Brilliant stuff. More please.

  5. Loving my Bluetooth, not loving automated operators. I need a Bluetooth after slamming my phone down on the counter repeatedly when I’m in conversation with a robotic broad.

  6. The trouble with Blue-tooth arguments it takes time away from screaming at traffic and other drivers ( who are probably screaming at their Siri or Blue-tooth?)

  7. I am trying to get used to the new Bluetooth in my car, too! It is so frustrating sometimes. Also, sometimes it says my phone is not connected and then two minutes into the conversation it picks up through the car. The price of technology is sometimes high in frustration!

  8. Love your blog Paprika! It always puts a smile on my face! thanks for sharing and for keeping me smiling!

  9. I am just one of the crowd with my comment, but this is hysterical and so true. I have been thinking about Bluetooth, however you have brought up points I have not thought about. Now I will have to rethink the entire project. I like the 2 cans and a string. I remember doing that with friends when I was a child..

    • When I wrote this post I thought I was one of the few people who couldn’t properly use a blue-tooth. Everyone’s comments and reactions has proven that this seems to be a widespread problem. Looks like they might need to fine tune the blue-tooth technology a bit more. Good luck if you choose to go with blue-tooth. It’s good in theory, but there is definitely something lacking in practice. So glad you enjoyed the post 🙂

      • IdealisticRebel

        And you have made me think about waiting a little longer for the kinks to be worked out. 🙂

    • Great article made me really giggle and its true the cans and the string were well ahead of their time when you think about it, because you could never have the string too long so caller ID was built in!!

  10. Some phone conversations – such as the miscommunication you experienced – might best wait until you are no longer driving. That is frustrating enough when you’re home and trying to get thru to who you want to call. 🙂 (I just found out who Siri – spelling? – was. What happens when she misunderstand where you want to go and sends you looking for help in all the wrong places?)

    Paprika, thanks for the lovely mention above.

    • Just yesterday I discovered that I can still dial the phone the old-fashioned way (when I’m stopped at a light or before I start driving), but I can talk through the blue-tooth. I think I may have found a compromise. 🙂

  11. I love answering my Bluetooth but I hate how she answers me back !

  12. gee, and Jen thought it was her southern accent that made that stuff not work for her…. ROFL!

  13. Ha ha! I have not taken the blue tooth plunge yet for many of the reasons that you outline above! I have a cheapy earpiece with a wire that I break or lose about every 2.5 months (drops out of the care when I get out, I drive over it on the driveway, tug at it too vigorously when it gets caught bt the seats…) I keep about 3 in my car as back up.

    With this thing, I see myself accidentally making calls, accidentally dropping calls, and accidentally getting in car accidents while trying to work it! 🙂 Of course, like most things, I’m sure I’ll have this one day, just a lot later than everyone else…

  14. Why is it called “bluetooth” anyway? Might as well call it blue face, because one can turn blue from all the frustration. 🙂

  15. Maybe speaking “blue tooth” can be a new foreign language course that they teach at the high school.

  16. Don’t you just hate it when technology has a sense of humour?? lol Very funny 🙂

  17. I have the same problem with Siri, on my iPhone 4S. I was goofing with her once in front of my husband and said to Siri: “Oh Fuck Off, Siri.”

    She responded: “What did I do to deserve that?”

    I haven’t used her since.

    Good luck with yours.

  18. OMG!! I’m screaming with laughter!!! All alone in a room with my computer, hoping no one is close enough to the window to hear me laughing all by myself!! I only got so far as to answer an incoming call, but I have to learn to talk normally and not scream the whole conversation! Making a call is a challenge I haven’t approached yet!!! Brava, Paprika!!

  19. I fired my Bluetooth secretary for the same reason: Lack of comprehension. I said, “That’s it! I’m getting rid of you.” Her response? “Call home?”

  20. I refuse to use the bluetooth in my car … or Siri on my iPhone for that matter. Like you, I find the frustration of using them far outweighs the benefits. For those who do choose to use bluetooth, I beg you … please use this only when you’re driving. And, for goodness sake, please don’t call ME. I can’t understand anything you say when you’re using a hands-free device anyway!

    Don’t even get me started on the weirdos that walk around talking to themselves because their cell phones are, apparently, far too heavy for them to hold up next to an ear.

    • I’m beginning to realize that the idea of blue-tooth is much better than the reality. Maybe that was the developer’s plan all along. If they make it unpleasant enough to use we’ll all stop using it and go back to keeping both hands on the steering wheel.

      I will say that blue-tooth has done a lot for people who walk around talking to themselves. Prior to blue-tooth we assumed these people had some type of problem, now when we see a person talking to themselves we assume they are just too lazy to hold a phone to their ears.

  21. Another funny post! I laughed out loud at the ending. This is even funnier since I work at a communications company.

    By the way, I wonder where the name Blue-tooth came from. You would like to know, too? Well, I’m glad you asked. It all started when the creator of this technology was reading an old novel, and … OK, OK Paprika – just kidding. You can check it out here if you want to know the rest of the story:

  22. I still head down to the telegraph office over in Bloomfield by Ted’s barbershop. Besides there is always a poker game going on out back and a snoot of shine available if so desired. I also have stamps and real stationary.

  23. I think blue-tooth has a cousin named Captcha. 🙂

  24. Before Bluetooth would you have believed it was possible to have an argument with a machine?

  25. yourothermotherhere

    Ah the joys of advanced communication!


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