22/02/17: The Genius of Gollum calling Smeagol

Technology has come a long way. It didn’t seem that long ago that the Nokia 3310 was the height of mobile communication. I mean come on, you could play Snake, a game that captivated the lives of millions. But those days are over now, we are now living in the iGeneration as it were. If a phone is not equal or superior to a computer, we don’t want to know. So now, a PHONE call doesn’t even require the need to touch your PHONE. Simply plug in the headphones and chat away, leaving you free to Candy Crush your life away while you lie to your boss about why you’re running late. 

This morning I found myself on a busier train than usual. A group of those pesky young people had climbed aboard to enjoy a day out in London. Why they were on the 653 train (and more importantly HOW did they get up that early) will forever baffle me. But this matters not. They are simply the chorus line, backing up the leads as they take centre stage.

Enter from stage left, our leading lady.

Through the youth crowd, a commuter finds herself one of the few remaining seats, next to my good self. There was an air of stress that surrounded her, as if she had substituted it for perfume this morning. This was someone who had a lot rolling around inside her head. My suspicions were confirmed when she pulled out her ‘To Do’ list. It was a gargantuan creation that struck fear into the depths of my being.

The minutes rolled by until finally out came the headphones and the inevitable phone conversation began. My intrigue led me to believe that she was on the phone to a work colleague; but this was one of those work colleagues that has become a good friend. Furthermore, I postulated that the friend was acting as less of a conversation-partner, but simply a welcoming listener, for the lady seemed to be doing most of the talking. It was a clever strategy, for she appeared to conquer many issues by talking them through out loud.

Soon, the phone was taken gracefully from her pocket. It was time for the Candy Crushing to begin. And so it did. There is no better cure for stress and an aid for productivity than to take your mind off the task in hand, freeing up your brain to work more efficiently. In between levels, I saw some texts fired off with blinding speed and spelling.

It is at this juncture I saw her flick to the ‘Calls’ section of her phone, and then while scrolling, accidentally call someone, panic, and cancel the call.

But how could this be I hear you cry?

With a flash of realisation, the truth hit me like Newton’s apple.

It was all a ruse. A trick. It was deception of the highest order. But nothing short of true, inspired genius. It turns out there was no phone call. There never was a phone call. There would never be a phone call.


This was confirmed to me during the moment where the headphones were removed from the phone, but she carried on talking. She may have thought no one could see the removal of the headphones. Alas, I was there, I saw. I knew.

There are many people in this world who process thoughts better when talking them through out loud. And quite clearly, this person had a lot that needed to be organised and dealt with. And so, by creating the illusion that she was on the phone, it gave her the freedom to talk out loud on a crowded train, without anyone even batting an eyelid.

Just imagine if she had decided to do it without headphones. Imagine the looks, the comments, the slow edging away.

But with the simplest of additions, a mask was created to conceal her true purpose.

The beauty, elegance and sheer wisdom of her endeavors came in the detail. To retain her vibrant illusion, as her list was completed and her problems for the day solved, she pretended to end the call by tapping her phone screen (which was locked), remove the headphones and finally take out a book to get her through the rest of her journey.

Very rarely in the scope of the human experience is such creativity, courage and genius shown. Especially on an early morning train.

So whoever you are, wherever you may be, there is but one thing left for me to do…



2 thoughts on “22/02/17: The Genius of Gollum calling Smeagol

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