Cell Phone Use is off the Hook
So I’m sitting in a restaurant on Melrose and I hear someone’s cell phone start ringing at the next table, and a guy puts the phone to his ear and begins to shout — not talk, but shout.
The man, I realize, is one of millions upon millions of cell phone users who don’t seem to realize that cell phones electronically amplify your voice, which means that you can speak normally — or, in most cases, even more quietly — when talking into them. But then, I realize that the call is probably meant to impress the person sitting around him, as much as to impress the poor guy on the other end, and for that, yelling is sadly required.
I turn around and give him the “stink eye.” I glower. I sigh … again. But engrossed in his conversation, he doesn’t look my way. I stare at the people at his table, hoping they might do something, but they are too busy being impressed (and/or are on his payroll) by this loudmouth, who’s going on and on about buying $100,000 of this and that stock. They obviously believe, or pretend to believe, he is that important that he needs to multi-talk right through dinner. Call me crazy, but it seems to me that if you get all dressed up, show up at a restaurant, presumably to have a meeting or socialize with friends, and then spend most of your time talking to somebody else, who isn’t even there, then maybe you should be with whomever you’re talking to on the phone. Either way, for the love of all that is sane, LEAVE ME OUT OF IT!
Friday’s show deals with rude behavior that seems to be everywhere these days, and as far as I’m concerned, it’s hard to find anyone ruder than this particular kind of cell phone user. I just read in the New York Times that 85 percent of Americans now own cell phones, which the Times’ reporter notes as pretty amazing considering that cell phones were invented only 20 years ago. All I can think about is how 15 percent don’t have one. You’ve got to be kidding me! Where are these 15 percent, because I haven’t met any of them?
Even kids are carrying cell phones. And then there are the grown men and women who don’t think twice about having phone conversations while sitting on the toilet in public restrooms, their voices echoing off the tile walls. Or they whip out their phones in the middle of a movie theatre or at a concert. (I’m just waiting for the day when I’m at a movie and someone yells out to lower the volume so he or she can take their call.)
I am one of the 85 percent with a cell phone. I’ve always got my BlackBerry with me to make calls and check e-mails. But, I’m determined to not let it take over my life. Actually, I hate the phone part so much that I refuse to set up my voice mail because I don’t want any messages, and almost no one has my number. I use it to call, but not to be called, and I don’t yell when I do.
In that same New York Times article, the reporter found a small subset of adults who proudly said they simply do not want cell phones. They resent the ring tones, the tiny keyboards and the phones’ screens that disrupt face-to-face conversation. They said they savor their moments alone and prize the fact that no one knows how to reach them.
I sigh again, but this time, it’s nostalgic. I know we’ve gone too far down the cell phone highway to give them up.
I’ve heard that Broadway actors are now openly breaking out of character when they hear a cell phone ring to take the culprit to task. Good for them. And I especially love the story of a guy in New York who placed a small recording device on a table next to a loud cell phone talker, which made the cell phone talker ask (loudly, of course) just what the heck was going on. “Well,” the man replied, “since you obviously want me to hear your conversation, I’d better keep a copy of it.”
I do have a fantasy that someday “cell phone cops” will walk the streets, dealing with all those who are being obnoxious with their phones — confiscating the phones or maybe zapping them with a Taser. (Now that’s an image!) But seriously, we’ve all got to band together and crack down on those who believe the rest of the world does not matter the minute their phone rings. If we all start telling people how rude they are, maybe they’ll all shut up. Or maybe, they’ll at least take their conversation elsewhere.
All right, got to go, my phone’s buzzing. But don’t laugh. At least it’s not playing some ridiculous ringtone that lasts for five minutes.