He's on a Schadenfreude-as-you-go plan.

At the lineup for gas today, a cellular phone started ringing. The person in front of me answered, but to his horror and my delight, the speakerphone was on. Naturally, the worst possible time to try adjusting a seldom-used option on a cell phone is when you're in a lineup and trying to pay for gas, so the man was fiddling furiously with the controls, trying to explain the situation to his buddy.

Even better, his friend didn't get the hint at all. He kept on babbling away happily about, I don't know, when his next shift was going to start. Something like that.

The point is that this man was absolutely mortified to be in this position, and virtually threw his money on the counter in an effort to escape the public spectacle he'd created. Meanwhile, I was grinning like an idiot at the whole thing.

The question in my mind is this: Why was he so concerned about other people hearing his phone call? Was it because he was worried that his friend would say something revealing or offensive? Was he ashamed of demonstrating his inability to use the device? My personal suspicion is that in that instant, he was forced to group himself with the ignorant, whom he'd previously mocked from afar. It happens to us all eventually, in one way or another.

All we can do is enjoy it when it happens to others first. And mock them from afar while we still can.

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Canadian explorer. Chemist by training, biologist by nature. Long-time supporter and participant in National Novel Writing Month. Known as "Aquadeo" in most Internet circles. Also known as "that guy with the pants" to people who have seen me in certain pants.