Are you talking to me?

By Lori Borgman

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

Women have been known to bare their souls at the grocery store. Which is why I wasn’t surprised when the woman next to me at the apple display said that her granddaughter had injured her ankle.

“Is that right?” I offered sympathetically.

“They’re taping it for now, but the poor thing may need surgery.”

“That’s too bad,” I said, edging toward the grapefruit.

“Oh yeah, it’s bad, real bad,” the woman said.

“How unfortunate,” I said, wondering how to move to the broccoli without seeming rude.

I looked at the woman and said I hoped her granddaughter got better. She jerked her head around to show me she was wearing a hands-free headset.

Bluetoothed again.

It happens everywhere – airports, malls, restaurants, doctors’ offices and coffee shops.

I was washing my hands in the restroom of a big box store when a woman in a stall screamed, “ARE YOU THERE?”

My heart nearly jumped out of my chest – I thought she was having a medical emergency. Turns out she was just telling someone that, and this is a direct quote: “DON AND THE KIDS WILL BE A LITTLE LATE.”

That woman has no idea how close she came to having a total stranger with soapy hands and outdated CPR certification crash through the door to her stall and administer unneeded first aid.

When we went to see “Blind Side,” I literally was. Some guy had his Bluetooth blinking in my peripheral vision.

There is no question that a Bluetooth denotes a sense of importance and urgency. Yet, most of the time, people wearing them are saying the same mundane things the rest of us are saying into hand-held phones.

The President’s security detail has had hands-free headsets for years. I’d be devastated if I ever walked past one of them and heard, “A loaf of bread and milk? Sure, I’ll pick some up on the way home.”

More than anything, Bluetooths can make ordinary people look like they’ve simply lost their minds.

It used to be you knew someone was a few cards shy of a deck when they talked to themselves. With the increasing popularity of hands-free headsets people everywhere appear to be talking to themselves. It is harder and harder to tell the very well connected from the completely disconnected.

Take the guy walking down the street, staring into space, shouting, “Let’s have a meeting, Phil! Tuesday? Yeah! Tuesday’s good, Phil. Yeah! Tuesday! See you Tuesday.” If he’s turned so you can’t see if he’s wearing an earpiece, you’re not sure if there is a Phil somewhere, or if Phil is a figment of the guy’s imagination and he has a fixation with Tuesday.

I can hear you now. We all can.