Samsung Blues: On the Perils of Butt Dialing Your Mom While Driving


"Samsung blues,everybody loathes one! Butt dial fool — everybody knows one!"

Did you sing-song that in your head to Neil Diamond’s "Song Sung Blue"? Go back and start over if you didn’t ... unless you're too young to know the song, in which case you should go look it up on YouTube. As for me, I'm weeping like a willow because I have a phone bone to pick with some technology types. I'm here to tell you that "butt dialing" is a real and pressing social problem. I can't figure out why we can put a man on the moon but all the geniuses in Silicon Valley can't create a phone that keeps my moon from accidentally trying to phone home.

Iris-scanning technology can now identify and purchase 12 fidget spinners at Target for my kid — but can’t figure out that my left ass cheek isn't trying to call my mom back? The former phenomenon is a ridiculous convenience while the other leads to loss of time, twisted wrist injuries, regret, shame, back pocket repairs, and confused moms everywhere.

Let’s start with confusion.

Hearing your mother’s muffled voice in your back pocket while you're driving home from Target is painful enough. “Hello? Tim? Is this Tim? Hello, Tim? Is this Tim? Tim? Tim? Tim? OK, Hello? Hello? Is this Tim? If this is Tim I can’t hear you!”

Now the struggle. Starting with a series of spastic hip thrusts joined by violent twists, bends, and furious turns. The car next to me might think I’m wrestling a small alligator, but clearly I’m attempting to set a record for most awkward removal of a 5" by 7" device from a jeans pocket while stuck in traffic.

And all the while, I can still hear her small and plaintive cries. “Tim? Tim? Are you there?” Now it’s personal. I’m discovering new curse words as the phone is seemingly choosing to be one with my pocket and won’t let go. Houdini once broke a wrist escaping from chains. This feels worse. “Why won’t it ... ” My body lunges right to lock eyes with the driver next to me ... still inching along in sync with my car, wondering how long this phone-selfie proctology exam will continue.

Well, never fear: my research has turned up the answer to that question. Three minutes and 47 seconds to be exact! And I know because the phone shows me a time stamp of how long a mom can say, “Hello? Tim? Is this Tim? Hello, Tim?” And of course, this bit can only end with a final riiiiip to the pocket followed by a “Mom? MOM!!!!” And then a pause as it sinks in that she finally hung up in the split-second before I got to my phone. I let out a Jim Carrey-style “Noooooooooo, you’ve got to be KIDDING ME!!!!!!!!!?”

My phone must be punished. But I refuse to buy the useless insurance, so I toss it symbolically just to let it know this behavior needs to stop. I watch it ping-pong off the seat before landing in what I call the Bermuda Triangle of impossible retrieval spaces. I calculate that traffic’s slow enough and if I were a Cirque contortionist I could easily reach it. I’m not flexible but by now I’m unmoored from the shackles of logic and common sense, so why not? I reach. I’m soooooo close and even know what I’m attempting is more dangerous than texting while eating sushi and drinking sake. HONK!!!!!!!!!! “Yep, I know! I’ve got it! Look I’ve got it!” I hold the phone up in triumph while shouting through a closed window to explain. “My mother doesn’t understand butt dialing! I’m calling her back!” He moves on.

“Was that you?” she answers. And the second the words “Mom, IT WAS A BUTT DIAL" hit the air, I realize I might as well be explaining cold fusion to ferrets and await the impending "Who’s on first?" skit.

“A what dial?" “A butt dial!" “You're dialing what?” “Yep, third base!”

“Oh, I don’t care," she says. “I’m just glad to hear your voice.”

I massage my wrist and she starts to chatter about the garden while I wonder how many LinkedIn profiles away I am from connecting with Apple’s Tim Cook to file a complaint. Traffic begins to ease. I tell my mom I was at Target buying fidget spinners, and she says, "Idgit spinners? What's an idgit spinner?" I let that go by and she moves on. Apparently, this weather we're having is bringing about some early tomatoes. Sigh.

ComedyKathryn Lake