Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Of Cellphones and Backbones

I have a column up at PJM on Giuliani's cell phone problem:

When Rudy Giuliani took a phone call from his wife in the middle of a speech, PJM advice columnist Dr. Helen Smith was appalled. What his campaign tried to spin as the act of a caring husband, she sees as a red flag.

Can a guy control the nation if he is controlled by his spouse?

Do you know husbands or wives who take numerous calls from spouses no matter where they are--even at work in the middle of a speech? I do and I have often found out that this behavior is often as much about control as it is about just taking a friendly call from one's spouse. Short leash, just lust, or common behavior? What do you think?

Read the column and let me know.



Blogger Unknown said...

Always told my wife and kids that calls to work were to be emergency only and if they weren't, expect me to react as if I were told to meet them at the hospital only to find out they had a sandwich for me.

7:05 AM, October 03, 2007  
Blogger Unknown said...

Over the last few years, it has become entirely acceptable and commonplace to receive and even make cell calls during faculty meetings. I hate it, but I wasn't surprised (for that reason) by the Giuliani call.

7:18 AM, October 03, 2007  
Blogger Webutante said...

Couldn't agree with you more here, Helen. It is indeed appalling that Giuliani could 1) be so seemingly teethered and without appropriate boundaries, and 2) be so incredibly rude to his audience.

To the point that I question his sanity, and that of his staff, calling it spin. It doesn't ring true. I have always said Rudy's emotional life and this new wife will be an albatross around his neck in the end.

He seems very insecure.

8:03 AM, October 03, 2007  
Blogger Don Surber said...

OK. What's a cell phone? Do people really talk on them when they drive their horseless carriages?

8:24 AM, October 03, 2007  
Blogger Will said...

I possibly could have bought the concept of it being an attempt to "humanize" Rudy IF it had happened only once or twice. But now knowing that it may have happened over FORTY times and that he realizes that people don't care for it, yet it seems to be continuing--well, I have to agree that there seems to be a control issue here and it is NOT going to help him win the GOP nomination.

9:22 AM, October 03, 2007  
Blogger Unknown said...

At this point, I think we've all been conditioned to ANSWER THE PHONE. So the fact he took the call isn't that surprising. But:

1) If this was a scheduled speech, how come his wife didn't know he was making one?

2) If it's rude for the audience to leave cell phones on, it's doubly rude for the speaker to do so.

All that's left is the sense of proportion test. How often does this kind of thing happen? If rarely, and handled well, it could be good. If frequently, or handled poorly, it would be bad. Since it happens frequently, I'd say bad -- very bad.

9:24 AM, October 03, 2007  
Blogger Helen said...

Dr. Ellen,

That is so true, this phone conditioning. Everyone jumps to the phone. However, like Will said above--40 times--isn't this, well, a bit much? I like Rudy Giuliani a lot and really hope for a Giuliani/Thompson ticket but someone should get through to him that this behavior is inappropriate and beyond rude.

9:41 AM, October 03, 2007  
Blogger Bruce Hayden said...

I have found myself in the situation of being on-call 24/7 for a woman, and, yes, it may be about control. At the time, that was about the only control she had over her life, and I felt it important to be there for her then. Luckily, she mostly now calls before 7 in the mornings and managed to avoid calling the last 5 days while I was with another woman.

Part of why I probably never married her is that she is still playing telephone power games with her ex-husband. She has been known to call 50 times when he isn't picking up the phone from her, and he isn't much better, which is why he doesn't have her phone number any more, but instead must call her on her (his step) daughter's phone. For them, it is all about control - the type of control each lost when getting divorced some 13 years ago.

For her, it is mostly control over her environment, with guys being part of her environment, while for him, it is control over her. Nevertheless, both are control freaks, as Helen suggests.

Realistically, I prefer the level I had with my ex-wife, where if she called while I was at work, I knew that it was important, and if I were doing something important, it woulc need to be catastrophic, something that couldn't wait. Thus, if I were giving a political speech, a kid would have to be in the ER, etc.

10:11 AM, October 03, 2007  
Blogger 64 said...

Why does he even have a phone? He shouldn't be answering ANY calls that haven't first passed through a staffer.

10:51 AM, October 03, 2007  
Blogger Cham said...

Are we all conditioned to jump when the phone rings? I'm not. They have this thing called voice mail. If I am speaking to a person in the flesh, that conversation takes priority to incoming phone call, I will let the phone ring. My cell records missed calls and I simply return the call a few minutes after I am done with my conversation.

I just dumped a friend who called incessantly. When I didn't answer the phone he simply called every hour until I did so, then there would be a agitated question about why I didn't answer the phone and what I was doing to impede the process. Perfectly sane people's manners go out the window when it comes to cell phones. I wish Verizon would offer call block because I would use it. If one takes a call while talking to me they at 100% chance of me walking away.

When I train, teach, lead hikes or chair meetings I simply tell people that I don't allow phone call interruptions. People tend to very willingly abide by the rule.

11:13 AM, October 03, 2007  
Blogger Dragon Hawk said...

I have a friend who would take numerous phone calls when she was visiting my house. The calls weren't from her spouse or anything, just random other friends of hers, and she'd sit there and talk to them for 5 or more minutes. We don't spend that much time together anymore, needless to say.

If I'm at someone's house, the cell phone is in my purse, and off, unless I have a sick family member to be concerned with. Everyone else knows how to leave a message

12:16 PM, October 03, 2007  
Blogger Bonnie said...

When I'm in class, at work, or in a meeting/rehearsal, my cell phone is on silent, and good luck getting me to answer it. It's rude to the people leading those situations. Also, I have a very set schedule, and anyone calling me at that time KNOWS that I won't answer the phone.

When I'm out with friends, my phone is on, but I will only answer it if it's a family member or someone I've been expecting a call from - and my friends know this. I make sure to let them know. It's just courtesy to me.

Giuliani is a puss, plain and simple. And an inconsiderate one, at that.

12:47 PM, October 03, 2007  
Blogger Earnest Iconoclast said...

I will answer the phone at work if I can but if I don't, my wife leaves a message. If it's an emergency, she calls back several times. At that point, I will excuse myself and respond, knowing that it's an emergency.

My wife and I have unconditioned ourselves to answering the phone. We will usually answer but if we're busy, we let it ring and check the voice mail later.

When my wife was pregnant and nearing her due date, though, all bets were off... but that's a special case.

Rudy needs to work on his phone answering timing.


1:06 PM, October 03, 2007  
Blogger Serket said...

I thought the fuss over this was because his wife was in the same building when he called and it was a setup. I agree that during a speech or a media performance that he should not be taking calls and should turn his phone off. Although for other times I like the idea of a family man that talks to his wife as long as she is not nagging him about some stupid issue. Glenn Beck mentioned a story one time where, I think, he was interviewing a producer and the guy stopped to take a call from his wife and it was a loving call and Mr. Beck thought that was an important and deciding factor in selecting him. I guess the difference is probably whether it is a rare thing or whether it is all of the time as it appears to be for Giuliani.

At work, I am not required to answer the phone, but I will if it gets hectic, but I am pretty good at ignoring it. At home, sometimes if I am not around the phone I'll just ignore it. If it's important, leave a message. I don't carry my cell phone around with me, I usually leave it in the car.

2:23 PM, October 03, 2007  
Blogger Jonathan said...

I doubt the calls are real. I think it's most likely a gimmick based on fake behavior, as when a national pol pretends to recognize specific individuals in a huge crowd before he gives a speech. If I am right, Giuliani will probably, in response to the many negative public reactions, curtail his public phone-answering.

It's bad enough if he and his advisers are so politically and socially tone-deaf as to think he can buy voters' love by pretending to take calls from his wife during speeches. It's even worse if she is really calling him and he is really answering. Either way, he looks to have bad judgment.

And here I am hoping to vote for him because the alternatives are all worse. Caramba.

2:25 PM, October 03, 2007  
Blogger Melody said...

We had a marketing sr. exec at one company I worked for who expected all calls from his wife to be passed through, no matter where he was or what he was doing. In fact, the man's wife once DEMANDED that the secretary knock on the bathroom door to tell him she was holding. The secretary declined to do so, and got chewed out by her boss. (She applied for a transfer not long after that.)

Speculation among the administrative employees was that it probably related to the fact that the guy was rumoured to cheat on his wife, and wife was probably checking up on him to make sure that he really WAS "in a meeting" or "in the men's room."

3:19 PM, October 03, 2007  
Blogger DADvocate said...

I'm continually amazed at how many people seemingly have an insatiable need to talk on cell phones. The number of people I see driving or walking while talking is amazing. Do they really have that much to talk about? I doubt it.

I have a cell phone because my work pays for it so they can bug me after hours. I never answer the phone during meetings or such.

I'm with Helen. I hate it when I go to a store and the phone customers has higher priority than I do. I onced managed a health club and the rule was that the customer in front of you came first. If someone called, you put them on hold.

Cell phones, email, instant messaging, et al enables poor planning, poor organization, etc. It seems more and more people can't/won't look past the next hour or two for planning purposes.

As for Rudy, at best he's whipped. No, I don't want my president in a meeting with the Chiefs of Staff taking non-emergency phone calls from his wife, kids or others.

4:10 PM, October 03, 2007  
Blogger William Gant said...

Sweet! There are other people like me in the world. Everybody in my family thinks I'm crazy for not having a cell phone. For me, it's sort of an economic game. If something is scarce, it's valuable. So, if I'm easy to get ahold of and easy to pester, the cost of doing so is low, making it more likely to happen. When you ditch the cellphone, you may get a realization as to how much you are enabling the poor planners, nags, worryworts, and the drama queens/kings in your life are taking advantage of you. I know it was certainly jarring for me when I figured it out.

6:43 PM, October 03, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Check out the article in the New York Times entitled Giuliani Dismisses Conservative Threat.

Here is the relevant part:

And then it was on to the next diner. This time, at a 50s style diner in Derry, where Mr. Romney will troll for votes tomorrow, Mr. Giuliani and his wife actually sat down for a half-hour to eat, sharing an intimate meal with Wayne Semprini, the former New Hampshire Republican Party chair, the owners of the restaurant and the entire national and local press corps hanging over them.

What did Mr. Giuliani order? Mrs. Giuliani, who is ever-protective of her husband’s health, ordered for both: two vegeterian egg white omelettes, two diet Cokes.

Later on, following another diner stop in Nashua, it was time for the other outstanding question that continues to linger in the public imagination. A television reporter stammered out that there were questions being raised by rival campaigns alleging the staging of that unusual moment at the National Rifle Association conference in Washington when he took a cell phone call from his wife.

“Are you going to take that?” Mrs. Giuliani said, hanging on her husband’s side.

“I think the reality is, if this is the biggest thing they’re going to raise, they’re in a lot of trouble,” said Mr. Giuliani, pulling his wife in with an affectionate squeeze.

“But I can promise you, it wasn’t,” Mrs. Giuliani said.

It would appear that Dadvocate is right, Rudy is whipped.

6:46 PM, October 03, 2007  
Blogger Will said...

It would appear that Dadvocate is right, Rudy is whipped.

I really regret that, because I agree with Dr. Helen that a Giuliani-Thompson ticket would be a good thing. Or at least I had thought it would be.

6:57 PM, October 03, 2007  
Blogger Joe said...

When I saw Giuliani do this the first time, I thought it was a total setup and totally lame (especially since Giuliani is a terrible actor and was using his terrible actor's voice.)

That aside, I dislike phones and despise cell phones. People seem to think phones grant them the right to be extremely rude.

11:30 PM, October 03, 2007  
Blogger Unknown said...

Never had one, never will, never carried one for work. When the bank I worked for told me I had to have one on vacation, I told them fine, I would be collecting insects in the Painted Desert, call all you want. I really was.

7:06 AM, October 04, 2007  
Blogger Serket said...

will: I really regret that, because I agree with Dr. Helen that a Giuliani-Thompson ticket would be a good thing. Or at least I had thought it would be.

I find it interesting that he has this fault plus he is liberal on almost every issue and yet he appears to be the top GOP pick. Perhaps most Republicans feel that his foreign policy stance is strong enough to make up for it. I took a quiz that said Thompson was my closest match, but I'm not sure he would make a good President.

1:05 PM, October 04, 2007  
Blogger pst314 said...

"Why does he even have a phone? He shouldn't be answering ANY calls that haven't first passed through a staffer."

Do you really want a politician to be so insulated that he can only be reached through intermediaries who will themselves decide whether or not your call is important? Jonathon Swift satirized this in Gulliver's Travels with his "flappers".

1:57 PM, October 04, 2007  
Blogger pst314 said...

Nonetheless, I think that cell phone incident was either a stupid stunt or a failure of basic good manners.

1:59 PM, October 04, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Microwave ovens, OK. Cell phones? Hate 'em. Mine is company supplied. I would not have a personal one. No privacy any more. Almost nowhere to enjoy that elusive, most sought after solitude. Easily abused by your employer, or customer, any time of day or night. I catch hell for "oops, left it at home", or "on the charger at work", etc., all the time, when it's really just turned off. Its worse than the solicitors who used to call at dinner time, because they knew you were home.

7:23 PM, October 04, 2007  
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