Chris Hutchins

The ‘butt-dial’ listener

Chris Hutchins

A good friend living out of state just got a new cell phone and has accidentally called me four times in two days. I told him I’d write about it and he got pretty worried I was going to embarrass him. He should know by now that I don’t work like that. I embarrass myself first, and then time permitting I’ll get around to someone else. My friend, this article is not about you, it’s about the fool you called, me.

With modern cell phones, especially the touch screen type, it’s easy to make an unintentional call. Usually, it happens when you inadvertently press the call button on your cell phone. It’s commonly referred to as a “pocket dial” or a “butt dial” because it happens when you have your phone in your pocket. So it’s like your pocket, or your butt, dialed the phone for you. While this can be pretty funny it gets even funnier when the person receiving the “butt dial” doesn’t answer the accidental call and it goes to voicemail. I wonder if we can call this a “butt mail” instead of a voice mail.

Almost everyone I asked has either placed or received a “butt dial” at some time, most have done both. Unlike me, it’s pretty normal. And since you are now fairly comfortable with the concept of “butt dialing” let’s give a little attention to the recipient of the “butt mail,” the “butt dial beneficiary.” In this world, there are all types, even people that actually listen to those “butt mails.” Not just in a casual sense either. People that closely and intently listen to those accidental messages.

I am one of those people. Damara says I’m creepy.

I don’t just listen, I really listen. Usually I can hear the sound of clothing as the unwitting caller walks around, blissfully unaware that I am hearing every movement. I often hear folks talking with other people or listening to the radio in the car. I have yet to hear a true heart-to-heart conversation between spouses but I am holding out hope. I’ve even heard people talking to their pets. Did he just really ask the dog if it wants to go outside? Yes, he did. I have some very good software for mixing sound so I can really get nerdy with it, plus my wife is a nurse and it is amazing how much a stethoscope amplifies sound. If “they” have people who listen to phone calls as intently as I do, criminals would never be able to talk about their deeds via telephone.

If it wasn’t for the accidental calls I’ve received I would never know that voice mail is limited to 10 minutes because the only person that would talk to me that long, my wife, does not leave voicemails. Incidentally, the messages I leave are usually less than 10 seconds. My son has “butt mailed” me a couple of times, but so far he has not said anything incriminating. I didn’t tell him about it because I don’t want him to be too careful.

I get intrigued when I tell someone they “butt dialed” me and they start acting nervous and trying to find out what I heard, or what time of day the call was…makes me want to hear it even more! My buddy with the new phone is calling; maybe it’s another “butt dial.” I think I’ll let it go to voicemail and see what I can hear. Maybe I’ll finally hear that big juicy secret or at least a funny joke.