Cell Phone Etiquette

They’re everywhere. The people who live with their cell phones next to their ears or in their hands. On every corner, as they are walking, in the grocery store, and especially in their cars, people are using their phones.

I feel I couldn’t function very well without my smart phone. I use it to check my email, find out the current temperature, play solitaire, take and send pictures, and, of course, talk to people. We don’t have a landline. This is it. So I do understand. We need our phones and get impatient with people who are not immediately accessible because they don’t own cell phones.

Nevertheless, I feel I try (not always with success) to be less offensive than other people. I don’t call people in the car. We don’t text as yet so I can’t do that either. I don’t listen to music on my phone. Actually, I’ve always hated making phone calls. People seem to call me at awkward times and I certainly know I do the same. I prefer email.

Especially, I don’t talk with people on the phone when I’m with another person. I try not to, at least. But it is compelling to answer.  I have answered and I live with guilt afterwards.

Here is why. Have you ever been at a reception desk at the doctor’s office or with a cashier at a store and they take a phone call while you are standing there waiting to set an appointment or pay a bill? What do you feel like? I want to shout, “I’m standing here in front of you, cash in hand, wanting service! Let the phone ring.  I take priority!”

Is this you?

That’s the way I feel when I’m sitting in car or in a restaurant and someone takes the call. I hear (LOUDER. THAN. NORMAL) a conversation that is one sided. I hear something that is somewhat personal that I have no business hearing. I am left out, minimalized, and told that I can wait, while the caller cannot. Rude.

About 3 years ago I was taking an airport shuttle from Tucson to Phoenix. There were about 10 people in this van. We ALL had to hear the one sided conversation of a girl who was talking to her boyfriend who sounded like he was going to jump off a bridge because she was going away on a trip for a few days. “Where is your food? Will you eat? I know you’ll be lonely, but I’ll be home in a few days!”

I felt like a voyeur. I wanted to choke her. I wanted to throw her phone out the window. I wanted to condemn phone calls from shuttles. I wanted to grab the phone and tell her loser boyfriend TO GROW UP! Instead I sat and simmered and wondered why my fellow passengers didn’t revolt.

So, Readers, try it sometime. Let the call roll over to your voice mail. Concentrate on the important person in front of you. Set an example.  Make the world a more polite place.

PS While I was writing this, a friend called me while she was driving west on I 90 (She uses her phone in the car with frequency). I was looking out the window at a waterspout forming over Lake Erie. I told her to pull over and watch. She did. She took pictures. I made her day.  She would have missed it without the phone call to me. Go figure.

Waterspout over Lake Erie


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  1. Carolyn says:

    Darned if you…and if you don’t~!