I may have mentioned this previously, but my father was one of the first people in the world to acquire a cell phone. It was very large and very embarrassing, especially for me, his teenage daughter at the time. When I was thinking about what I'd like to do after graduating from high school and my family took trips up and down the east coast visiting various colleges, my father brought his cell phone with him. His friends and business cohorts were the other five or six first people in the world to have cell phones and they'd call him while I, and the other nervous teenagers, were listening to our 9000th speech about why this school was the best one for us. Since it was new, my Dad didn't want to turn it off and he'd answer it while exiting the very quiet room where the nice college students were briefing us about student life, like playing chess in the union or just chilling in the hallways with our new best friends. Suddenly I'd hear my father's voice, the loudest of loud whispers, at the back of the room, and then in the hallway, always failing to fade out: "Bob? Bob? Can you hear me? I'm up in Vermont Bob. Bob? Hello? I'm not in the best area." Now that I'm more mature you might think there is no way he could embarrass me like that again. And that's true. Those delicate years when I was a teen were priceless in the embarrassment arena. Just when I thought I was free of it all, my Dad would go and do something like trip over the doorway to the biggest dorm at Boston University (where I'd spend the next four years of my life) on the first day of my college career, as all the college freshmen - my new friends for Christ's sake! - milled around and made introductions. Oh, and all the upperclassmen in charge of signing us in had to go help him up. Oh, and also, he had a broken nose and a broken arm in a sling because he'd fallen down while on vacation the week before. So, you know, it wasn't that subtle or anything.
But he can still do it, if only a little. With the changing times comes new technology, like smaller cell phones. And cell phones with speaker phone functions, which my father likes and doesn't know how to turn off. So I'll be hanging out, just chilling with my friends or enjoying a calm and peaceful moment, say, in a restaurant with my family, and the phone, the phone of ages past (in spirit if not in actual substance) will ring and he can't not pick it up and when he does it turns out it's still on speaker mode. He doesn't know how to turn it off. So not only is everyone subject to his loud "Hello? Hello? Hello?" (sometimes in a foreign accent if he's not sure who the call is from - his tactic is to pretend he's Chinese or Irish if it turns out to be a salesman, that way he can tell them he's not sure where Mr. Fred is at the moment) but everyone is also subject to whoever is on the other line. Their voice comes through the microphone loud and clear, usually shouting something like, "Fred, hey, I can hear you."