On the subway today, I noticed a man chatting loudly and belligerently into his cell phone. He used decorative language to describe what he would do to the guy on the phone if he failed to pay back a loan.
My fellow subway riders looked a bit intimidated by the man’s steadily rising voice. But I was intrigued. A cell phone call on the subway?! I thought you could only do that in Asia!
Mobile phone service is loads better in Europe than in the US. I remember seeing a billboard ad in the US for cell phone company — I think it was AT&T — claiming that the carrier had fewer dropped calls than any other network. In Europe, you couldn’t get away with that. Inherent in that ad is the fact that calls are indeed dropped, even if the carrier’s rivals drop even more calls. In my many years of living in the UK, and traveling in Europe, I never got that irritating beep-beep-beep and “Call Failed” written across the phone, like I do here.
And yet, there was that man on the subway, happily shouting obscenities into his phone, on a call that presumably hadn’t failed. Maybe that’s the secret — network operators could hear his call, and could tell they didn’t want to mess with him. I saw how mad he was about the prospect of an unpaid loan; I’d hate to see his reaction to a failed call.