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Posted at 6:35 PM ET, 01/20/2011

Cell-phone-distracted lady falls into fountain -- this is the American dream!

By Alexandra Petri

Have you seen the video of the woman who fell into that fountain?

It's riveting! And if there is one thing on which I am qualified to comment, it is People Who Walk Into Things.

I frequently walk into things -- doors, clinics, situations. Sometimes I forget how to walk because I am distracted by something, not noticing until I have been off the cliff for several seconds that I am actually plummeting down into the valley below. And what usually distracts me is my cell phone.

Forget texting and driving! I can barely drive without a cell phone, let alone with. I am the only person I know whose GPS refuses to direct me anywhere. "Turn left," it says. " Now stop. Get out. Take a taxi."

Texting and walking is lethal enough for me. And it can be pretty lethal. Once I traveled back in time and walked through the set of a Charlie Chaplin film without even noticing it because my phone was so captivating.

So I sympathize with the woman.

I am a cell phone person.

Some people are cat people. Some people are dog people. I like cell phones. Sure, your dog wakes you up by licking your face aggressively. But can he play an eight-second clip of "Grenade" by Bruno Mars on loop until your neighbors come and physically drag you out of bed?

My phone does.

Your cat is cute when it lands on its feet. But does your cat disintegrate whenever you drop it, causing its battery and memory card to pop out and skitter across the floor of the subway car?

My phone does.

Your puppy greets you with love whenever you come home. But has it ever begun ringing loudly and embarrassingly in the middle of an important meeting, revealing to everyone that your ringtone sounds like this?

I think we know the answer to that.

But it's not just me.

One of the overwhelming fears that comes with the human condition is the worry that everyone else is off without you having a good time. Cell phones allay this fear by allowing us to text everyone constantly demanding where they are and whether or not they are thinking of you. Text messages are the ideal format for this: all the reassurance that someone is thinking of you, with none of the inconvenience of having to actually talk to the person. We don't actually like talking. We just don't want to be left out if people are "doing things."

So I sympathize with the woman. The opposite of talking isn't listening. The opposite of talking is texting. And we are modern people, so we must be texting All The Time.

Also, there's an air of perpetual excitement and mystery. Keep reloading that e-mail! Maybe it won't be from your boss! Maybe it'll be from Lucasfilm! Maybe it'll be Opportunity!

I carry my phone around constantly and check it. This diagram explains why:


Cell phones aren't for talking. Cell phones are for texting. Sometimes, they're for causing you to fall into a fountain.

But the response of the woman, Cathy Cruz Marrero, has been bewildering. This is the American dream: to be caught on camera doing something badly and coast to worldwide fame! Most people will sit in line for days in the hopes that millions of people will watch them do something they aren't very good at; just look at American Idol. But she was discovered by chance! It was fate! And she says she's humiliated? She's even threatening to sue the mall!

"I could have been walking into a bus!" she says. "A car!"

Has she never seen Jersey Shore? They don't just walk into fountains -- they walk into bars, where they accidentally do far more embarrassing things, like revealing they forgot to wear pants. And they don't seem embarrassed at all. One of them has a best-selling book!

This is the opportunity our cell phones seem to promise! She ought to seize it and make it hers.

Unless she's too distracted to notice it in her path.

By Alexandra Petri  | January 20, 2011; 6:35 PM ET
Categories:  Epic Failures, Only on the Internet, Petri  | Tags:  YouTube, celebrity, oops, technology  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: 'Premarital Sex in America' and the single girl
Next: Everything I need to know I didn't learn in college


I was waiting breathless to fine out if the cell phone was ruined, if so what they said when she went in and asked for a replacement!

Posted by: Nemo24601 | January 20, 2011 8:40 PM | Report abuse

And yet, ... the cheese stands alone. So contact your local 'cult' de-programmer... and let go of your crutch .... and be freeeee.

Posted by: deepthroat21 | January 20, 2011 10:50 PM | Report abuse

The cat takes the rat
The rat cuts the cheese
And deepthroat takes the cake!
As suggested, I'm texting my local cult deprogr....
Cathy Cruz Marrero is going for a big piece of the pie by threatening a lawsuit. I bet she only fell in that fountain after her lawyer suggested it in a text message.

Posted by: divtune | January 21, 2011 12:45 AM | Report abuse

Put nets and fill with plastic balls. More kid friendly malls in a snap.

Posted by: jobandon | January 21, 2011 8:59 AM | Report abuse

Meant nets up. Furnace down, keeping warm with 25 YO Brandy here. Found while looking for candles for heat. Go balls to the mall. Less liability more assets. She is spending ten grand and the kids are having fun. I'm having more Brandy. You have a good day. You drain the fountains and I'll work on draining this bottle. It'll all work out.

Posted by: jobandon | January 21, 2011 9:34 AM | Report abuse

The fact that cell phones pop apart on impact is actually a good thing. It distributes the force of the blow into the batteries skittering across the floor, rather than the delicate electronics.

Highway impact attenuators work in a similar fashion:

Posted by: pseudo999 | January 21, 2011 10:43 AM | Report abuse

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