Last week I accompanied a friend to a doctor’s office. The waiting room was packed. People were sitting on the floor, leaning against the wall and slumped over furniture. A few of the lucky ones had chairs. Everyone looked miserable. For the most part the only sounds were moaning, sniffling and coughing. I must admit that I was questioning my decision to drive my ailing friend to her appointment. I dug into my handbag for a vitamin or anything that might boost my immune system instantly.
Suddenly the near quiet room was shattered by a male voice, yelling, “Hey Bubba, whatcha doing?” It only took a second for most of us to realize that we were in the company of one more rude cell phone user. What followed was an explanation of where the caller was, his reason for being there (the last thing anyone wanted to know), when he thought he would be leaving and which bar he and Bubba should meet in when he was finished.
Clearly, this inconsiderate being had no idea that this month, July, is National Cell Phone Courtesy Month. No doubt, he has never heard of courtesy, let alone cell phone courtesy.
Have you noticed that he is not in a class by himself? As the number of cell phone users rises, the horror stories about them increase. We all have not just one unbelievably rude cell phone incident to relate, we have dozens.
Don’t you wish that along with those bizarre directions on how to set up and use your phone-the ones written by the people who designed the phones and therefore already know how to use them-there were also instructions for cell phone conduct? Rules like:
1. Keep it private. No one else wants or needs to hear your phone conversation. If you feel compelled to make or receive a call on your cell phone, find a private spot away from other people.
2. Ask permission first. When you think that you may be receiving an important call, let others know and ask their permission to leave your phone on and to take the call.
3. Excuse yourself. When the all-important call comes, excuse yourself and find that secluded spot.
4. Turn your cell phone off. Whether you are attending personal or professional functions, just turn off the phone. You can check your messages later. Few of us are so indispensable that we cannot be out of contact for a few minutes or hours.
5. Use the silent ringer or vibrate function appropriately. When you are in the presence of others, it is just as inconsiderate to check the incoming call as it is to answer it. If your phone vibrates, excuse yourself to check the call, or better yet, check it later. How discounting is it to have someone with whom you are speaking suddenly say, “Do you mind if I check my phone and see who this is?” You almost hold your breath waiting to see who will win the attention of your companion, you or the caller?
6. Keep your voice down. You don’t need to be like Bubba’s friend in the waiting room and yell. The phone may look tiny, but it picks up sound perfectly well.
7. Remember the phone booth. It was not constructed for the sole purpose of allowing Superman to change his clothes. Its’ original function was to afford people private access to a public phone. Seems like a whacky concept today.
8. People are the problem, not the phones. Pass it on.
Wishing you cell phone civility this month and throughout the year!
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