More mischief from misunderstood men in this week’s Dudes in the News.
The term “pocket dialing” refers to when a bumped or otherwise disturbed cellular telephone inadvertently dials a random number, the result of which is that the receiving party hears a background conversation or receives a gibberish voice mail message.
As you may know, these calls can be mortifying. For example, your phone dials your ex. He or she happens to answer at the same moment you and a friend—unaware the phone is carrying your conversation—are laughing about your ex’s sexual penchant for scissors and penny whistles.
These calls also can be life altering, especially if you happen to be a criminal whose cell phone pocket dials the police. This happened no less than twice recently.
As reported by the Associated Press on March 4, the first incident, in Clay, New York (population 58,785), involved three larceny suspects riding around in a Kia Sportage (“Designed for the next level”).
As the men passed a residence they’d robbed, and blithely discussed raiding another, one of their cell phones pocket dialed 911.
Sheriff Kevin Walsh, from the delightfully named county of Onondaga (no relation to Lady Gaga), told the AP that a dispatcher relayed the suspects’ real-time conversation to deputies—including one suspect’s comment that “there go the cops now.”
Presently, deputies stopped the Sportage. A search revealed stolen tools. The men were arrested on charges of grand larceny and stolen property.
Here’s our question: a Kia Sportage? Really? The daring criminals of yore, who drove Chevy Camaros, Plymouth Road Runners and Dodge Chargers, would be aghast.
And upon hearing that crooks now drive $18,000 family-style SUVs, police of that era would laugh so hard they’d accidentally crash their souped-up and gas-guzzling Ford Galaxies into corner donut shops.
We do not know if James W. Green, 29, of Bangor, Maine (population 31,450) is aghast that he was arrested on outstanding warrants after cops responded to repeated—and unintended—911 pocket dials by his cell phone. The Bangor Daily News included no indication of Mr. Green’s emotional state in its May 23 report.
But it did note that his use of a backpack leaf-blower evidently caused his phone to call the emergency number multiple times. So said Bangor police Lt. Jeff Millard, who is no relation, as far as we know, to Pete Malloy, one of the two lead officers in the 1968-1975 TV police drama Adam-12.
Lt. Millard added that by “triangulating the signals” from Mr. Green’s calls, coppers were able to locate his address on a street with the sunny name of Florida Avenue. They arrested him on two active warrants for failure to pay fines.
Incidentally, we are sad to report that the Bangor Daily News has no motto. This lack of journalistic pride is the type of thing driving readers from newspapers in droves.
But the paper’s website does have a comments section, for which, we are both glad and sad to see, it feels compelled to post rules of conduct: “1. Keep it civil and stay on topic. 2. No vulgarity, racial slurs, name-calling or personal attacks. 3 People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. The primary rule here is pretty simple: treat others with the same respect you’d want yourself.”
If these sound like guidelines we all learned in kindergarten, well, they are. Therefore, that a newspaper website has to post them for grown men and women is dispiriting beyond belief.
Alas, within the seeming protection of virtual anonymity some alleged adults do tend to act with disheartening childishness, don’t you think?
The jury is out, so to speak, on whether or not childishness is endemic to adults of all ages.
But perhaps the jury has not heard the case of John Williams, 77, a city councilman in Warner Robins, Georgia (pop 62,500).
After a heated argument, Mr. Williams allegedly spilled the contents of his Waffle House breakfast onto the lap of Downtown Development Authority Chairman Tony Robbins (no relation to Tony Robbins).
Mr. Williams was quoted in a May 24 story on Macon.com, the website of the Macon Telegraph (“We, too, have no motto”), as saying he inadvertently knocked over his food when pushing himself up from the pair’s table.
“It was just a misunderstanding,” he said.
Not to Mr. Robbins: “It was on purpose.”
As it happens, Mr. Williams was indicted last year for making false statements to police after reporting that his city-issued cell phone had gone missing from the same Waffle House.
Plainly, Mr. Williams is a Waffle House regular. This fact should figure prominently in his defense. It suggests that, barring the occasional food fight and mislaid-cell-phone fib, he is a steady presence.
This, we assume, will be as much a comfort to Warner Robins jurors as it likely already is to Warner Robins voters.
If nothing else, it may be a relief to know that acts of childishness are not limited to our shores.
But for a lawyer, even one in Austria, to drop his pants in front of two female investigators during the questioning of a client accused of sex crimes might not, in Europe, be considered childish; it might, in essence, be considered kind of hot.
According to a newspaper with the blindingly fabulous name of Trioler Tageszeitung, quoted in a May 4 Associated Press story, the unnamed lawyer dropped trou in a police station in Mayrhofen, a Tyrolian town of 3,869 famed for its year-round outdoor sporting activities.
After revealing his white briefs, the lawyer sat on a desk with his back to the women. The article gave no explanation as to why. Dogged law enforcement agent Walter Pupp said the incident later was reported to the local bar association.
Our delight in the Austrian lawyer’s naughtiness is only outweighed by our eagerness to praise his underwear preference. Back in the days of Dodge Charger getaway vehicles and Ford Galaxy cop cars, white briefs were a man’s undergarment of choice. To those who later fetishized them, the very fact of their utilitarianism made them nonchalantly sexy.
All of that changed a couple of decades ago, when buying underwear suddenly required making conscious fashion decisions. Men who took pride in spending no more than two seconds on outerwear purchases found themselves spending an extra two hours choosing between boxers, boxer-briefs and briefs, all of them in a dizzying array of colors and styles.
Is there is a direct link between the introduction of status-conscious underwear and the fact that modern criminals now drive soccer-mom SUVs?
We’ll leave that to the sociologists. We’re just glad that far-flung lawyers are displaying white briefs proudly, no matter how inappropriate the context.
If childish criminals here would do the same, they might turn into actual men, and might then be capable of remembering, at the very least, to turn off the goddamn cell phone before robbing the neighbors or blowing leaves into their back yards.
Dave Ford is a San Francisco writer whose work has appeared in Spin, The San Francisco Chronicle, The San Francisco Examiner, SF Weekly, The Advocate, and a host of other periodicals. He writes the blog First of All, and is a certified yoga instructor who teaches at various venues in his home city.
Illustration by Bion Harrigan. Bion Harrigan keeps his head firmly planted in the clouds and has done so since the earliest days of a youth misspent idly daydreaming, reading Mad magazine, and drawing scary monsters and super creeps. He continues to spend an inordinate amount of time daydreaming and drawing at his home in Maplewood, New Jersey.
Other dudes, who, previously, have been “in the news”: