next time ask yourself, “what would charlie umphred do?”

Es­ti­mated reading time is 2 min­utes.

SOME YEARS AGO, the man­u­fac­turers of and access-providers to cell phones (“mo­biles” in the most of the rest of the world) con­quered America. They somehow con­vinced everyone from our every elected of­fi­cial to the highest and lowest of pro­fes­sionals in every com­pany major and minor down to the home­less on the streets of Seattle that they could not live their lives without a tele­phone in their pocket and a three-figure monthly phone bill.

You would think that some of these folk would cherish those mo­ments out of the of­fice or home and NOT having to hear a phone ringing for their at­ten­tion. Such has not been the case.

Now, prior to cell phones, sev­eral com­pa­nies had begun man­u­fac­turing mo­biles phones for in­stal­la­tion in pri­vate au­to­mo­biles at an af­ford­able cost. My brother Charles was one of the first ‘civil­ians’ to have a phone in­stalled in his car. His reason? He owned a small busi­ness in Penn­syl­vania (Mia Bella Can­dles, man­u­fac­turers of the ‘world’s finest or­ganic scented can­dles’) and when away from the prox­imity of a land-bound phone, his at­ten­tion was nonethe­less needed for im­por­tant decisions.

So, a phone went into his car.

So, I was back east vis­iting and Charles (Charlie to every­body but Mom, Dad, and me) drove me over to see his man­u­fac­turing plant on George Street in Wilkes-Barre. On Penn­syl­vania Boule­vard, not far from where we used to play on the rail­road tracks as kids, his new-fangled mo­bile tele­phone rang. I was afraid that he would an­swer it while driving

As someone who be­lieves that the driver should keep his eyes and at­ten­tion on the road in front be­hind left right at all times I do not mind con­fessing that I don’t even like it when a driver turns his head to his right to en­gage me in con­ver­sa­tion when I am in the pas­senger seat! Nothing should dis­tract a driver’s full at­ten­tion from the ALWAYS po­ten­tially dan­gerous busi­ness of dri­ving sev­eral thou­sands of pounds of metal at 30-60 mph.

For­tu­nately, my brother pulled to the side of the road to take the call—after which he ex­plained that he NEVER drove and spoke on the phone at the same time. He has ap­plied the same prac­tice to his cell phone.

Of course, this common sense at­ti­tude is so rare it is worth re­marking upon.

Which I am—here and now in this post.

So, the next time your mo­bile cell phone rings, vi­brates, buzzes, or shakes rat­tles and rolls, just ask your­self, “What would Charlie Umphred do?”

And now you know the an­swer to the ques­tions, “What would Charlie Umphred do?”: pull the f*ck off the road and take the call where you can’t hurt anyone!




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I wish you to write some­thing else. I think it will be in­tresting too

When I moved to Pitts­burgh in 1973 I went to work with a mo­bile tele­phone com­pany and pager (beeper . . . re­member those?) com­pany and wound up staying in the wire­less in­dustry until 2001.

Anyway, this pre­dated cel­lular phones by 11 years, but back in the good old days there were a lim­ited number of UHF and VHY fre­quen­cies, so much so that the en­tire city of Pitts­burgh had 3 (yes, count ’em) chan­nels for mo­bile phone usage and about 100 users per channel. (Like having a hun­dred people on your party line . . . if you re­member party lines). So I had this gold Ford Torino for a com­pany car and a mo­bile phone in­stalled on the trans­mis­sion hump.

Given the lim­ited use with so many users per channel, it was more for calling into the of­fice when our beepers went off, so we didn’t have to drive around looking for a pay phone and carry a bag of quar­ters all day long. (If you re­member phone booths. Cripes, there is a lot of shit people may not know about!)

Anyway, the only people who had phones in their cars back then were doc­tors, city of­fi­cials and pimps. I was a ac­tu­ally stopped once by a cop in the south hills in Mt. Lebanon. Ap­par­ently he thought I was white pimp from the Hill Dis­trict and wanted to know what I was doing there. When he saw that I lived in Mt. Lebanon and showed him a busi­ness card with the mo­bile tele­phone com­pa­ny’s name on it, he ac­tu­ally apol­o­gized and said he thought I was a pimp with the Gold Torino and car phone. Do I ac­tu­ally LOOK like a pimp?