My Week 28: Speakerphones and Pepperspray

Tuesday: The joys, and pitfalls, of speakerphone

The whole concept of the speakerphone is a wonderful thing, but you have to be careful about what you’re doing when you use it. I had, prior to living in Toronto during the week, used speakerphone with our landline once in a while, mostly if I was trying to get dinner ready and I really needed to talk to someone while I was chopping vegetables, or whatever. But our kitchen is too big to use the function effectively—I’d have to lean over the chopping board to get close enough to the phone so that I didn’t sound like I was cooking dinner in a large cavern. I never used the speakerphone function on my iPhone until I moved to Toronto, but my condo is only a little over 600 square feet, so it doesn’t really matter where I am in relation to the phone in order for me to have a pretty lengthy conversation. But I’m getting a little cavalier with the activities I’m doing whilst talking on the phone—it’s not just chopping vegetables anymore. So on Tuesday night, I was talking to Ken. It was pretty late because my brother had been over for dinner, and we had definitely NOT been drinking AT ALL, but after he left, I realized that I needed to do a lot of stuff in a very limited amount of time with a slightly off-kilter sense of equilibrium). I called Ken, because I had promised to do it several hours earlier, and how time flies when you’re NOT drinking. Also, I needed to get ready for bed, and this is a ritual with many steps. So I’m talking to Ken on the phone, and he’s telling me all about his day, which is always highly interesting and usually involves some pretty intense cubicle-sitting (haha, honey—I know you work VERY hard) when he stops abruptly.

Ken: Um, what are you doing right now?
Me: Nothing. Talking to you. What do you mean?
Ken: I thought I heard splashing. Are you having a BATH right now? While we’re talking?

Then I got worried that he might think I had flooded my apartment AGAIN, so I had to admit that yes, I was in the bathtub. But once I had done that, it was a slippery slope to the rest of the bedtime ritual, so we continued the conversation while I washed my face, and talked through brushing my teeth (although I had to repeat myself several times because Ken can’t understand “toothbrush talking”). But Ken is a pretty astute guy, so I refrained from actually flushing the toilet, because if he knew I was in the bathtub, he was for sure going to know that I had been talking to him while I “finished my bedtime routine”. Because let’s face it—using the toilet is like chopping vegetables in that you need both hands to do either. I don’t know if there’s any actual etiquette about using speakerphone, but I’m willing to bet that, aside from simply letting someone know that they are on speakerphone so you don’t say something rude about someone else in the room, NOT using the toilet while you’re talking to someone is considered de rigeur. But what they don’t know (or hear) can’t hurt them, right?

Friday: I almost use my pepper spray

A couple of weeks ago, one of my very dear aunts gave me a gift. It was a small container of “aggressive dog spray”, which is what they call pepper spray so that no one thinks you are actually planning to use it on humans. But let’s face it—how many aggressive dogs are roaming the streets of downtown Toronto? Any dog I’ve seen so far is either a very tiny dog owned by a very well-groomed man, or a very scruffy dog owned by a very nice panhandler. When my aunt gave it to me, she cautioned me: “Use it sparingly,” she said. When I showed it to the women I work with and told them I’d been instructed to use it ‘sparingly’, they laughed and said, “How often are you planning to use it?! Only once, hopefully!” But don’t forget, I live in the heart of downtown Toronto, where people scream uncontrollably, or wear balaclavas and walk down the street moaning. Anyway, yesterday morning, I was walking to work, which is literally 2 minutes on a slow day. I was half a block from my condo when a woman walked up beside me. Bear in mind that the sidewalk is ten feet wide, and it was really early so there was no one else around. The woman spoke in a very hostile voice: “She thinks she’s on a tour. Move faster why don’t you? Fucking get out of the roadway.” (Sorry about not censoring the swearing, but I repeat this verbatim). I could hear her very clearly, and assumed that she must be talking on her cell phone. Then I looked at her out of the corner of my eye. She seemed perfectly normal. She was very tall and heavyset, and was wearing a ski jacket and a backpack. As our eyes met, I realized that she had no cellphone. And no ear buds either, so she wasn’t singing along to some bizarre Iggy Azalea song. Nope, she was talking to me. And I was walking almost as fast as her, and was NOT in her way. My hand crept along to my purse where my “aggressive dog spray” resided, because despite her “normal” appearance, she was obviously having one of those Jame Gumb moments from Silence of the Lambs (“It puts the lotion on its skin”, etc. where she was narrating the serial killer thoughts in her head). Then she disappeared into the 7-11 on the corner, and I hightailed it into my secure office building. But I sure wish I could have tried out that pepper spray. Don’t worry—I would have used it sparingly.

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