Friday, November 02, 2007

Cell Phone Users: Get Some Manners

For a long time, I lived happily without a cell phone. After living in Houston for a while, I finally had to cave and get one. The commute and having to worry over picking up a child on time from school made it a necessity. But even though I have one these days, I still make every effort to mind my manners. I usually keep it on vibrate. I don't talk on the cellphone while I am driving. I don't start yakking out loud in public places, and I sure as heck don't interrupt talking with people in person to pick it up. It's a matter of common courtesy and manners, which are clearly sorely missing with a lot of cell phone users. Don't like hearing it? Tough. Get a clue and some manners. The world does not revolve around you.

This little rant was prompted by an article from CNET Reviews posted in MSN entitled "On Call: Mind Your Cell Phone Manners." Kent German, the article's author, gives us some reminders of common manners to maintain when using a cell phone.

  • "Be nice to the person behind the counter". German tells the story of some self-absorbed guy who can't even bother to place an order at the lunch counter. He has to hand a note to the attendant because his call is just too important. I am sure a lot of librarians can relate to this. I get that once in a while. Some student comes to the reference desk to ask for something, but they are yammering away on their cell phone. They can't be bothered to hang up or put their friend on hold for a moment to deal with their reference transaction. Usually, if I am not busy, I will signal that I will wait, but otherwise, I tell them to either wrap it up or come back later. Overall folks, have some common decency. The person giving you service deserves some dignity and respect from you as well. They are there to help you. Least you can do is give them your attention.
  • "Take it outside". This one is a peeve of mine. If you go to some restaurant or other public place with a lot of people, take your call outside. I really don't need to hear about your Aunt Hilda's hemorrhoids, your sister Wilhelmina's fourth (failed) marriage, or your crazy Uncle Jimbo who failed to make bail (yet again). People who answer their cell in a movie theater should be tasered and/or shot on sight. Between that and the bozos that just can't be quiet in a movie theater are the reason movie rental places get my business and not theaters. This should be non-negotiable. It's not your living room. Have some manners. Personally, there is no fate bad enough for someone picking up the phone in a church, funeral, etc. If you are a doctor, put it on vibrate and step outside. This goes along with German's other point: "Yes, they're talking to you". It means when they announce in a theater or play to turn off the cellphone, it means you. Last thing I need when I go see a live play is to have the actors distracted because you thought the request to turn off the phone did not apply to you, and your stupid ringtone now broke their concentration.
  • The point about using the cell phone in the bathroom should go without saying. Just don't do it.
  • As for the Bluetooth headsets, other than proclaiming you can spend money on the little gadgets, you look like a geek, or worse. If you are not actually talking on the phone, take it off. We don't need confirmation of your self-importance.
Don't get me wrong. I think a cell phone can be a useful device. And given all the advances they keep adding, they are bound to get better. But it does not mean you have to behave like a barbarian because you have one.

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