Recently there have been a number of pieces of legislation on the national and state levels that are concerned with telephonic communication. On the national scene our Congress acceded to the wishes of the administration and allowed that warrantless eavesdropping on citizen’s phone calls was acceptable and further that those who aided in that electronic surveillance could do so with impunity and immunity from prosecution.
The state of California moved in quite a different and narrower direction when it decreed that the use of a hands-on cell phone while driving was a violation and punishable as same.
What follows is a driver-driven cell phone chat that was inadvertently picked up on the Island, and while it may lack the gravitas of affecting national security it may have some interest to Vineyarders. Here it is as recorded with impunity and immunity and just a touch of the thrill that comes with doing something in questionable taste.
“Hi Ellie, it’s Kate. We’re here on Martha’s Vineyard and just driving around checking out the points of interest. What’s that? No, so far we haven’t seen any movie stars. Stuart was almost certain he saw Carly Simon but on this Island almost everyone looks like Carly Simon. Of course I’ll let you know if we see Ted Danson. But let me tell you what this Island lacks in stars it makes up in turkeys. They rule the roost, so to speak. Oh dear, here’s another batch. Whoops . . . oh well, with so many of them who’s going to miss a couple, though the little ones were adorable. You know, Ellie, I feel we’re doing our bit to bolster the economy here; filling the Hummer with $5-a-gallon gas is an act of Christian charity, who knows how many of these families live off that money. A lot, let me tell you. Ellie I think I’m losing you, I’ll just swing over here and see if I get a better signal”. (A shout) “Yes, smarty pants, I know it’s a bike path but it doesn’t say only bikes does it?”
“Ellie, these people are so provincial I’d like to see them with their bikes in real traffic like New York, then see who gets yelled at. Ellie, hold on while I check a map here. No Stuart, this isn’t it. This is Meeting Place Road, we want Meeting Place Way or Meeting Place Place, or something. Ellie, you still there? It seems every other street is Meeting Place something or other and there are more Tisburys than you could use in one lifetime. I think we’re hopelessly lost. Oh goody, help is at hand; there’s a blue and white car that’s been following us for a while and it must be some kind of local holiday because his car has flashing lights and all. Oh, he’s waved us over, that’s a break. I bet he knows where that Meeting Place thing is. Listen, Ellie, I better ring off. It appears he has something on his mind. No, Ellie, don’t call me, I’ll call you.”
Allan Manings, after 40 years of writing and producing for television and films, has retired to Edgartown and California. His column appears regularly in the Gazette.