Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Paying attention

The other day I was helping some friends pack. They were moving from Brussels to Pretoria.

Actually let me start at the beginning. We call them the 'Foreign Office couple', and what a wonderful family they are. We have known them for 5 years and will miss them very badly indeed. To give you an idea of just what a lovely family they are, over dinner a few weeks ago, they asked me if I wanted their car. As we already have have two cars and didn't want to pay for a third, I was thinking about a tactful reply when he followed up with:

"You can have it for free!"

To which I immediately replied, "Yes of course I'd love to have it - but are you sure?!"

They were positive. It's a 12 year old Honda CR-V with diplomatic plates and it's sitting in my garage as I type. I need to first re-register it as I am no diplomat, then I need to get it through some sort of 'fit-to-be-on the-road' test. And it's a wonderfully well looked after low mileage car which will serve me well on trips to the forest and the local waste disposal place. With 4X4 it will be great for winter school runs too.

Back to the point of this post. As I was helping Mrs Foreign Office couple with the packing (her husband was at work), she started chatting about how her husband had handed his mobile phone in to the office and so had no way of contacting her. This in itself wasn't so interesting. She continued to explain how she had been telling him about their plan for that evening - they were due to meet each other at someone's house for dinner - and how he hadn't be paying attention to her instructions. She finished by saying:

"Hope you paid attention because we have no mobile phones to call each other on..."

With that he had suddenly stopped whatever it was he had been doing and asked her to repeat herself while he paid her his undivided attention. She found it very funny how the realisation of no way of contacting each other had made him pay so much attention.

And it made me think. If a mobile phone allows you to not focus on a conversation because you can always call in to check later. What does email let you do? And what do social networking sites allow you do?

I need to chew this over. But in the meantime I must re-register the Honda.


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