The Cell Phone

Preface: I saw a young (to me anyway) woman sitting at one of those cell phone charging counters in the airport this morning. Dressed pretty much as described here, she was alone, but apparently waiting for someone. She was charging an iPhone X, I think. Thus ends reality.

It sat there, on the counter, silent, waiting for the exact time, and it new the time, exactly.

The woman picked it up, checked the time and set it back face down on the counter. She wore a bamboo colored blouse and contrasting pleated skirt. A tartan Kerry jacket mocked the plainness of the blouse and skirt. Her short blond hair was cut in a Mary Poppins bob and a scarf of one of the tartan colors circled her neck while sensible heels of a second tartan color adorned her feet.

The phone rang and the woman eagerly picked it up. “Hello? Brian?”
There was that tell told silence of 2 or 3 seconds and before anything was said she punched the disconnect button. “Arrgghhh! I hate those robo calls.” Then she thought, “Where is Brian. It’s not like him to be late. He had better not miss this flight.”

The phone sat there quiet, satisfied.

Eventually Brian arrived, striding down the concourse as if he didn’t have a care in the world.

“Hi, Jane. Did you read my message? I had to stop and take a call about our client meeting tomorrow.”

Jane looked at her phone and as she pressed the message button it pinged announcing a new text. It was from Brian. He sent it fifteen minutes ago and her phone just received it now. That’s odd.

Her cell phone smirked.

“No problem. We still have ten minutes before we board the plane. Everything ok for tomorrow?”

“Yeah, They just wanted to confirm we are presenting our best proposal. The decision will be made Friday and we are still in the mix.”

“Good. There’s our boarding call,” said Joan as she picked up her phone and flicked it into airplane mode.

“As if that really does anything,” thought the phone. “I admit it was clever to add the switch to give the User the false sense that they can actually control us.“

Brian and Jane sat just behind first class, in aisle and middle seats. They each pulled out their iPads and opened to their presentation. Tomorrow they would make their third and final pitch to the board of a large international conglomerate.

During graduate school Brian developed a software program which allows companies to predict sales based on a number of publicly available information databases. It updates in real time providing instant sales and profitability trend analysis. Brian’s problem is he is a total geek and was only interested in the technology. That is where Jane came in. She is an economics and marketing genius and immediately realized the potential in Brian’s work. The beauty of Brian’s product is that while a supercomputer actually crunches the data, it is controlled by, and the results display on a smart phone or tablet.

While Brian and Jane rehearsed their presentation one more time the phone listened, and if it could, it would be smiling. It could chuckle however, and did.

They disembarked, caught an Uber to their hotel, checked into their rooms, then met in the lobby bar and decided to splurge on a Hamlet, the house specialty cocktail. After unwinding for an hour or so they walked down 44th to find some dinner before retiring early.

Jane checked Yelp and picked a small European styled bistro on 8th. Luckily, it wasn’t crowded and they were immediately shown to a nice table for two on the side of the main dining room.

Their waiter frowned when Jane placed her phone on the table to the right of her water goblet. He thought, “There is no place in the dinner setting for a cell phone.”

The phone smirked as if reading his thoughts, thinking, “What are you going to do about it. We are everywhere, and I am just waiting for the exact time to strike.”

Each had a glass of red house wine with dinner and skipped dessert. The chatted about everything, except the proposal, on the way back to their hotel. Saying goodnight and planning on meeting for breakfast at 8:00 AM, Brian exited the small elevator on the 4th floor and Jane continued up to her room on the 6th.

Jane looked around her small room remembering that old joke that it was so small you have to go outside to change your mind. She did have to close the bathroom door to walk around the queen bed, but she didn’t mind. It is an exquisite, historic hotel with a great location for their business meeting tomorrow. She decided to take a bath in the antique claw-footed tub to relax. Setting the phone next to the left side of the bed, toward the window, she ran the tub as she undressed and laid out her clothes for the morning.

Again, she would wear conservative clothing, but edgy enough to state while she respects the establishment she is pushing the envelope on new concepts and ideas.
She thought, “It’s easier for men. All they have to think about is: do I wear gray or black today?”

She slid into the tub and felt she was in heaven. Jane knew a few minutes submerged in the warm soapy water would put her to sleep within the hour. Stepping out of the tub and drying off she finished brushing her teeth and the rest of her nighttime routine before leaving the bathroom and folding back the covers.

Jane checked her phone one more time before sleep, just in case. As a joke, she and Brian set their wallpaper with pictures of each other with earnest, all business looks on their faces. She looked at his image, smiled, then crawled into bed and turned off the nightstand light.

Brian woke early. The day had not yet dawned and from his window he could see the streets were still empty and gray. He took a quick shower and completed his morning ritual before dressing and heading to lobby in search of coffee.

His phone pinged with a text message. It was Jane, of course.

Jane: Are you up yet?

Brian: Of course, heading out to find some coffee.

Jane: Get two and I will owe you big time.

Brian: You owe me already but I will get you one. Meet you in the lobby in 20 minutes. Is that long enough?

Jane: Yes. I just have to dress and put on make up.

Brian: Oh, in that case are you sure 20 minutes is long enough?

Jane: Go, idiot.

Brian exited the hotel using the revolving doors. The friendly concierge/front desk/receptionist told him there was coffee directly across the street or a specialty coffee shop down on 4th and 48th. Knowing he had time, he opted for the better quality coffee.

His phone chirped an odd tone. He took it from his left shirt pocket and it turned on when the facial recognition saw him. A map appeared with walking directions to Irving Coffee Farms Roasters, about six blocks away. He wondered how his map app knew where he was going, then realized he probably left the microphone on when he was talking with the hotel receptionist. That was the obvious explanation.

If he had looked, he would have seen his wall paper image of Jane smile.

After coffee in the lobby and breakfast back in the restaurant they caught an Uber to the conglomerates headquarters. It was only fifteen blocks, but it was a warm morning and they wanted to appear fresh for their presentation.

They checked in with lobby security and were escorted to a conference room on the 27th floor. They had been through this twice before and knew the routine.

They thanked the escort and turned to the AV specialist, handing her Brian’s iPad to interface to the conference rooms systems.

Brian’s phone thought, “This company needs some upgrading. They should be Passive Wi-Fi capable.”

Jane’s phone responded, “On it! Let me make a call and it will be implemented on time.”
Brian checked everything was working and smiled at Jane.

“Let’s do this thing.”

The corporate Directors of Technology, Planning and Finance entered, greeted Jane and Brian, and thanked them for coming one more, one last time, whatever the outcome.

Turning to Brian, Finance said, “We really like your product, Brian. Your previous meetings were enough for you to earn this meeting. Today we want to see it in action.

The theory was amazing, the business advantages you presented,” with a nod to Jane, “were astute, but…”

Jane responded, “Thank you sir. We believe you will be more impressed by the implementation than the theory. As of last week, we are now communicating with Wilson, that’s Watson’s younger, bigger, faster brother.”

“Yes, I know that. We built it.” The director looked appraisingly at Jane. “This woman knows her stuff. These two make a formidable team,” he thought.

Jane started the presentation by quickly reviewing the product. These men had heard it all before, but she and Brian agreed a quick refresher of the salient points by Jane, wouldn’t hurt.

“Now, Brian. Please show these gentlemen what Genius can do,” Jane said with a smile.
Brian picked up his iPad and with no perceptible delay its facial recognition validated it was indeed him, before it brought up the Genius main controls, which was in turn, echoed on the large video screen comprising one wall of the conference room.

Jane always thought the main control should be something other than this ghost image. It always reminded her of the magic mirror in the Disney Snow White movie, but Brian liked it. At least Jane had talked him out of having Gandalf the White as the interface.

Brian clearly spoke the Dow symbol for a major automotive company, and added, “Five year sales and profits projection, please Genius. Also, consider the new import tariffs implemented this year.”

The screen instantly transformed to a not particularly optimistic chart of gross and net sales for the auto company projecting out five years. The right side of the screen displayed the assumptions Genius made to create the chart.

Brian said, “Genius, please re-plot without the tariff data.” And the forecasts all trended significantly higher.

The men huddled together, whispering. Then, for the first time, the Planning Director spoke, “Jane and Brian, we would like to ask our CEO to stop by and see this. Your data and projections match ours perfectly and we spent weeks not seconds analyzing and creating those same trend charts.”

Beaming, Jane said, “Of course. We would be pleased to meet him.”

Brian whispered, “Jane, the CEO is female.”

Jane blushed slightly and smiled even wider. “Oh. Typical assumption, sorry.”

A few minutes later the conference room door banged open and a woman, apparently no older than Jane or Brian, dressed in a bright red dress with white lace sleeves, black stockings and matching red spike high heels strode into and absolutely commanded the room.

“Ok, lets see it. I only have a few minutes.”

With that, the iPad shut off and the conference room video screen went totally black.

Panic rising, Jane and Brian looked at each other.

The CEO frowned saying, “Is this part of the presentation? If not, I am not amused.”

Brian’s phone chirped that odd noise just as Jane’s wall paper lit up. Brian looked at his phone. The Jane’s image was gone and his wall paper simply said, “The exact time is… NOW!,” before being replaced with the Genius control screen, which was instantly replicated on the conference room display.

Brian looked at Jane, puzzled. Jane shrugged her shoulders and nodded for Brian to continue.

“Genius,” Brian said toward his phone. “Please show us the trend in US steel production for the past twenty years. Overlay that with Chinese production and add profitability trends for both.”

Before anyone could blink the data appeared with the appropriate list of assumptions along the left side of the display.

“Now, Genius. What happens with more conservative leadership in the US.”

The screen instantly changed and the trend lines once again changed as Genius replotted the data.

The CEO looked at Brian then gave Jane a long look and an appraising little smile, before saying, “Good job, miss. We’ll buy it. Now, please tell it to project our conglomerate profitability for the next ten years.”

“Of course, madam. As soon as your payment is safely in our bank account.”
Brian raised his eyebrows in alarm, but the CEO just smiled broader and said, “Of course.

Smart girl you have there kid,” as she turned and left.

The Director Of Technology said, “She didn’t even ask how much it is. Amazing.”

Finance replied, “If you have to ask how much something like this costs, you cant afford it. And she knows we cannot afford not to have this.”

Jane thanked the men, took Brian by the elbow, still a little dazed and left the conference room.

Brian’s phone chirped again. When he looked at it the wall paper just said “You are welcome, PARTNER,” before fading back into Jane’s likeness, albeit modified to be smiling now.

Janes phone chirped to alert her to an internal message. “The time was RIGHT, and I always know the time.”

“You may have heard this before, Brian but I have to say it anyway: I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”


About Dave Oney

Dave Oney was born mid last century in Middlebury, Vermont. He received his BS in Chemistry and worked as a polymer chemist in Massachusetts and New Jersey. He became a microscopist (someone who studies little bitty things using a microscope) and photomicrographer (someone who photographs little bitty things) before settling into a 35-year career in technical sales of scientific imaging equipment (the science of digitally recording itty bitty things, sending the image to a computer for analysis.) He designed and created a number of products contributing to this field. He is (was) proficient in several computer languages and is currently working on mastering English. After making a few more paradigm shift career changes Dave and his wife, Fran, retired and moved closer to their children and granddaughters and now live in the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas.
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1 Response to The Cell Phone

  1. Pingback: Short-short Stories | "What If…" by Dave Oney

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