Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Zap! Cellphone problem solved

Light bulb turns on during checkout lineup waits

  • Print

As a public service, I have come up with a genius idea that will make life better for people who spend a lot of time standing around in lines.

This idea came to me like a bolt from the blue the other day as I was -- you won't have seen this coming -- standing in the checkout line at my local grocery store.

I would normally insert a few scathing jokes here about how this line was long enough to be seen from outer space and was moving at the speed of airport luggage, but the truth is the line wasn't that long and it wasn't moving at all.

At first, the problem was the middle-aged woman at the front of the line was making the purchase of her groceries seem more complicated than bringing peace to the Middle East, but involving more negotiations with the cashier.

The snag seemed to be the woman was 200 per cent sure she had only bought one loaf of bread, so why was the cashier charging her for two loaves, and maybe it would be a good idea if everyone stopped what they were doing and rummaged around in her grocery bags.

I'm sure we would have gotten to the bottom of the bread conspiracy eventually, but that's when her cellphone went BLEEP! BLEEP!

She flicked it open and pressed it to her ear. Clearly, it was an urgent call.

"OH HI!" she bellowed at a decibel level the rest of us in line could have heard even if we'd been standing in, say, Grand Forks. "OH, NOTHING IMPORTANT. YOU? UH HUH. WOW! IS THAT RIGHT? THAT'S GREAT! OH, YOU KNOW WHAT ELSE IS GREAT? THEY'RE HAVING A SALE ON TOILET TISSUE. WHAT? YES, REALLY! IT'S TWO FOR ONE TODAY. I KNOW. UH HUH. WHAT? HOT? YES, I'M MELTING!"

The woman had a lot more to say to her cellphone buddy, but I sense you have caught the flavour of the vital conversation.

As you can imagine, the people standing in line behind this woman grew quite agitated and, being Canadian, we made this abundantly clear via displays of righteous indignation, such as staring off into the middle-distance, shuffling our feet, muttering under our breath, rolling our eyeballs sarcastically and flipping through the pages of the store's celebrity gossip magazines as loudly as we could.

Finally, the woman pocketed her cellphone and wandered away with her groceries, including an undisclosed amount of bread. The cashier shrugged her shoulders to let the rest of us know she empathized with our plight, but was powerless to have this woman thrown in jail.

Then, foolishly, I strolled across the parking lot to the pet-food store to stock up on dog biscuits. Moments later, there I was in yet another lineup, consisting of myself and another middle-aged woman, who, although I cannot produce documents to prove this, must have been related to the woman in the grocery store.

I say this because, when it was time to pay, instead of pulling out her wallet, she pulled out her cellphone and began shouting at someone.


As the conversation dragged on, the pet-store cashier and I exchanged sympathetic shoulder shrugs and eyeball rolls to convey the concept there was nothing we could do under current Canadian criminal law.

Which is when I got my brilliant idea. You know how modern cellphones are packed with useful features, such as cameras and video games and stereo speakers or GPS devices?

Well, imagine if, whenever a cellphone user talked in an inappropriate location, such as a checkout aisle or a darkened movie theatre, and at an inappropriate volume, such as heavy-metal drummer, the smartphone dealt with the situation by, say, emitting a lightning bolt.

Don't get me wrong here. I'm not talking about a lethal lightning bolt. Just one with enough juice to remind the impolite phone user about the importance of being courteous.

After a few zaps, I'll bet they'd get the message. I'll also bet they'd need a few rolls of sturdy two-ply tissue.

Fortunately, I know where they can get a deal.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 11, 2012 A2

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


Jets vs. Ducks Series promo

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A nesting goose sits on the roof of GoodLife Fitness at 143 Nature Way near Kenaston as the morning sun comes up Wednesday morning- See Bryksa’s Goose a Day Photo- Day 07- Web crop-May 09, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • horse in sunset - marc gallant

View More Gallery Photos


Do you agree with the sale of the Canadian Wheat Board to foreign companies?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google