Thursday, December 5, 2019

"They Got My Number (And I Never Gave It To Them)"

Some may call it convenient.  I call it creepy, spooky and weird.

And unwelcome. 


When it happens once it’s a coincidence.  But what is it when it happens four times in a row?

A “Quadra-coincidence”?  A mystery?  Or – since it emanates from my cell phone – an unsolicited “app” that kicked in totally on its own?

You tell me, as I am utterly befuddled.

Here is it.

I take Lyft.  (Since my Lexus went “bye-bye”, legally preceded by my license to drive it.)

Saturday mornings, I have a pilates class, the studio located at 3734 Motor Avenue, in semi-far Culver City.  Ready to go, I tap the Lyft “app” to get the transportational ball rolling.  The “app” pops to life, its understandable first question: 

“Where are you going?”

At the bottom of my screen, there is a list of destinations to which I have previously Lyfted.  Dozens of destinations.  Dozens, I tell you.  Dozens!

Okay, there are ten.  But that’s not the point.  The point is the following.

Showing prominently at the top, the very first listed destination:

“3734 Motor Avenue.”

The pilates studio address.

How did that happen?

How did my phone know it was Saturday?  Okay, there’s a calendar.  But it actually knew where I was going?  I could be going anywhere.  My phone says, “No, it’s ‘pilates.’”

Okay, it’s a “Saturday habit.”  Mine, not my cell phone’s.  Which my cell phone “mathematically” picked up. 

But what about this one?

I have a doctor’s appointment.  I tap the Lyft “app.”

“Where are you going?”

And before I type the appropriate address – 1301 20th Street – first on my “Destinations List”:

“1301 20th Street.”

I have – God knows – more than one doctor.  How did my phone know which one I was seeing?  Wait!  How did it know I was seeing a doctor at all? 

You could almost feel the thing gloating.  Signaling my startled reaction, it was telling my Kindle, “Watch this!

So that’s two.  Now…

Due to some geriatric affliction, I am required to have regular pedicures.  Not consistent.  Every two weeks, every three weeks.  Whenever my toenails go “Ow!”

It is now time to see Nancy.  I tap Lyft. 

“Where are you going?”     

Nancy’s address, at the top of the list.

“We know your toenails.”


Last one.  Maybe the creepiest.

I have recently mentioned a surprise family “Photo Shoot.”  Suddenly – not predictable, not regularly scheduled – I need a pre-“Photo Shoot” haircut.  I tap Lyft. 

“Where are you going?”

Topping the list:  “Matthew Preece Hair Salon.”
Come on!  I didn’t even know I was getting a haircut.  How did my cell phone?

Is it some kind of algorithm, the tip of my finger emitting varying “messages”, from  “Doctor” to “Haircut”, “Pedicure” to “Pilates”?

I understand the convenience, my cell phone preemptively “reading my mind.”

But how does it do that?

And who asked it to?

All I know is if I tap Lyft and the St. John’s Hospital Emergency Room jumps to the top,

I’m throwing it away.

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