4.03.2007

Actually, I do mind.

I would like to share a little tidbit from Miss Manners' Basic Training: Communication (1997). She is addressing cell phone etiquette.

Miss Manners understands that for the owners of portable telephones the number-one etiquette hazard is embarrassment. There is hardly any more public wallflower than the person who is obviously lugging around telephone equipment than never seems to ring. No one should have to be stuck with having to talk to the person he or she is actually with.

It is, of course, Miss Manners' duty to sympathize with all etiquette problems. But she allows herself some discretion about which ones to suffer over first. In the manner of peripatetic telephones, she worries first about the nonusers present who are being annoyed.

So do I, Miss Manners. So do I. Also, it is so much worse now. I don't know why this is, but people whom I consider to be well-mannered individuals throw the rules completely out the window when it comes to cell phones. So. I would like to present the rules here, just in case there are people out there who A) do not know them, or B) don't think said rules apply to them (hint: they do).

1. Turn your phone off the second you step into a museum, church, restaurant, theatre, library, waiting room, or other public place frequented by actual civilized people. My library doesn't have a cell phone rule, even though it really should, which means that I get to hear cell phones ringing merrily at all hours of the day and people chattering on about things we shouldn't be hearing, like custody battles and which brother is trying to stiff his siblings out of their inheritance. Today a woman was asking me a reference question when her cell phone went off--loudly. I then had to sit there with the Eyebrow of Death and wait for her to stare at it and debate whether or not to answer it. And I've said this before but some of you haven't listened --sending text-messages during church is tacky. And so are you if you do it. And you'll make Jesus cry.

2. If your phone rings during a live performance, you deserve to be slapped. If it rings again during the same performance, you deserve to be slapped by every member of the audience, the cast, and the orchestra. And anyone else who just happens by and wants to smack you.

3. Do not have personal or emotional conversations on your cell phone in public. None of us want to be held hostage by your drama. We shouldn't have to listen to any of your cell phone conversations, actually. So find yourself a corner and use it. Wait until you get off the airplane to start making calls. I've listened to about a million "Yeah. Yeah, I just landed in Columbus. We're just taxiing on the runway now. Yeah. So I'm calling to tell you that. Because it makes such a difference that you know this now, rather than 5 minutes from now. And I want everyone else on this plane to know I'm so special that entire teams of people need to be apprised of my every move" calls, and I would be just fine with never hearing one again.

4. Ditch the annoying ringtones. What are you, twelve? I'm going to be additionally irritated if I have to listen to some stupid song when your cell phone goes off.

5. Stop screaming into your phone. You don't need to do that.

6. Do not even think about using your cell phone when you're at the check-out stand. That is so incredibly rude to the person who has to be polite to you even though you don't have the courtesy to acknowledge her presence. She would be perfectly justified in cramming that thing in your ear. The other day I worked the circulation desk and had to help a lady who remained on her phone and never once looked at me. She has no idea how close she came to getting clubbed like a baby seal with her own phone.

7. Do not have drawn-out cell phone conversations if you are with guests. And yes, the people in the car with you are guests--or at least they can't choose to be somewhere else. I've been stunned on occasion when I've set out with a friend only to be ignored while they have a merry cell-phone conversation with someone else. Because guess what? You, the person you're calling, and me do not = a happy threesome. It equals you being rude and me wondering why I'm even there.

Now. Let's all do our best to make the world a better and more considerate place and stave off the public slappings, shall we?

Thank you.

34 comments:

Tusk said... [reply]

I *always* ask whoever I'm with whether they mind me answering my phone, or reading messages.
It's a pity they don't return the favour.

blackjazz said... [reply]

Sorry tusk - that's not good enough because a polite person will always so "no - go ahead" and then inwardly fume.

I'm completely with you on this, Miss Nemesis, except that the punishments should be more severe. It probably justifies a return to public floggings.

I once pointed out to somebody on a train that he was shouting on his mobile. He didn't take it very well. I got as aggressive a reaction as when I told somebody they shouldn't be smoking in a no smoking carriage.

The Craner Family said... [reply]

Thank you. I completely agree! We should post your rules in all public places.

I would like to add one:

Please do not leave your cell phone on in the temple. It is super annoying when people put the cell phones in the locker and it keeps ringing in the dressing room. AND last year, I was at a marriage sealing when a temple went on DURING THE CEREMONY.

Squirrel Boy said... [reply]

Agree on all points. I'd just like to add one rule of my own: don't ever talk on the phone while driving. You may think that you're the exception to this rule for whatever reason, but you're not.

bawb said... [reply]

I disagree, actually. If it would be reasonable to talk to someone actually present, then it's reasonable to talk to someone on the phone, to my mind. Thus, no-go on movies or concerts, but I see no problem with it in a restaurant, car, or airplane. (Museums and libraries are probably out, too, since you can't really whisper on a cell phone.)

If someone has his phone set to vibrate and it rings in a restaurant, why is his answering it quietly any more intrusive to your dining experience than it would be if he were dining with a friend?

kristen said... [reply]

Very good points. I'd put emphasis on the movie theater thing. Holy Cow. There's nothing worse than paying $8 for a movie and some inconsiderate jerk's cell phone rings......and he answers it!! Ticks me off. The church one is totally inappropriate as well.

Nem you should publish these and distribute. I also second Blackjazz's suggestion--more sever punishments.

Nemesis said... [reply]

Bawb, how many people do you know who speak quietly on their cell phones? I don't know many. Cell phone conversations always seem (at least to me) more obvious and loud than people conversations. And if you're carrying on cell phone conversations in the car it means you would rather speak with someone who is not present than make conversation with the people who are.

Hannah, thank you for adding the temple one--I can't believe I left it out. I made the cell phone mistake once (and nearly died of embarrassment) and now always leave it in the car.

Squirrel Boy, thank you. I must confess here that I've been getting lax on my "no cell phone while driving" rule, but you've helped me recommit.

Kristen, I once was on a date with a guy who's phone rang in the theatre--not only did he answer it but he carried on a 5-minute conversation. It was during Star Wars Episode One and I just knew some deranged fan was going to kill us both with his lightsaber. We never went out again.

Tusk said... [reply]

"Sorry tusk - that's not good enough because a polite person will always so "no - go ahead" and then inwardly fume."
I guess that's true....although I tend to speak my mind. I guess both of those points make me rude.
I *do* agree on turning them off in places where you're not supposed to talk anyway. *And* I always leave a room before answering it- if that makes things any better.

Nemesis said... [reply]

I think just asking, though, makes you a lot more considerate, Tusk. I would only start to fume if you stayed on the phone longer than it took to get the necessary information. But maybe I'm just needy like that.

Scully said... [reply]

Here is my two cents. My cell phone is for my convenience, which means that I only answer it when it is convenient for me to answer it. Which means only when a) I want to and b) I'm not doing anything from which a cell phone conversation would detract. I don't care if people get my voicemail. Leave a message and I'll get back to you at a more convenient time. My cell phone is not for people to be able to reach me whenever they want. And for when I lose my parents in Costco and have to call them to find them. Also, add to the list classrooms, lectures etc. When I was a BYU and phones would ring I always thought "Your wife better be in labor or I'm cramming that down your throat."

Kristeee said... [reply]

I'm totally against people talking on their phones in the theater or class, or any quiet public setting. You can always answer your phone (if you really have to) and whisper, "hang on a second" and walk to where it's okay to talk again. I think it's appropriate to leave a cell phone on - but on silent or vibrate or something virtually imperceptible to others.

I'm also against blue tooth headsets - the people who wear them all the time, like a piece of fine jewelry. Only it's not, and no one thinks you're super cool because of it. It's not a status symbol. It just looks silly, like you can't be sociable. And I hate it when people randomly start talking on them, only you can't see the ear piece and so you think they're talking to you . . . ugh!

daltongirl said... [reply]

How about texting while at the sacrament table, during the sacrament? Is that rude or inappropriate?

Because we had to have a big family discussion about how it's NOT, at ALL, and certain people in our family were clearly not convinced. Then we had to threaten to take phones away, and tell YM leaders to do the same if they ever saw anything like that again. There was almost a murder when I heard about it, before I calmed myself and somewhat patiently laid down the semi-understanding and loving counsel.

And yeah. Just FYI, texting during prayers (public, family, or personal) is also not actually polite or right-thinking. In my opinion, people who are too immature to KNOW this are too immature to own a cell phone.

That said, if you're wondering why I allow certain of my family members to have a phone, it's a very good question. It's also a long story, and you'll have to trust that I've had to grudgingly consent--in order to keep said kids living in my somewhat ordered home and not in a drug/porn house.

Life is often more complicated than I originally agreed that it should be. Maybe that's why a lot of people aren't obeying the cell phone rules.

TheMoncurs said... [reply]

I had this one seminary class my junior year of high school that was so rude and irreverent you wouldn't even believe me if I told you about half the things these people did. This one kid used to sit in the back and chat on his cell phone through almost every class and the teacher did NOTHING. I wanted to rip the kid's head off and then hang it over the door as a warning to others who dare disturb my spiritual learning.

The one thing I disagree with on your list is the plane, mostly because I have a rather specific reason. If I call my parents as soon as I'm allowed to after the plane lands, they will pull up to the curb at the pick up point right about the same moment I'm walking out the door from baggage claim. The timing is perfect and if I wait 5 minutes until I'm off the plane then I have to wait 5 minutes at the curb. I know that sounds like not a big deal at all, but when it's 115 degrees out I kind of stop caring about whether or not my cell phone etiquette or lack thereof is bothering the people around me.

Nemesis said... [reply]

Okay, thmoncurs, it sounds like you have a valid reason for placing a call (because I am the Valid Reason Police today). And I'm sure you're the kind of person who would only call to say "Hi, I'm here" and not "Hi I'm here and let me tell you loudly all about my trip now." You may pass. ;-)

Lindsay said... [reply]

Amen to everything you listed, but especially numbers 5 and 7. I just spent the last 5 hours in the car with a co-worker who felt the need to talk -- very loudly -- to everyone she knew on her cell phone. It got old very quick.

Cooldad said... [reply]

Amen to all comments about poor cell phone manners. I have other extreme examples too, but that would be overkill. While on the subject of irritants at church, what is up with people, adults mind you, bringing their water bottles and drinking out of them during sacrament meeting. I actually saw a guy two weeks ago pick up a one-gallon milk jug that he reused as his personal water bottle and took a swig during the meeting. I couldn't believe my eyes.

Nemesis said... [reply]

Dad, I know of people who have to have water bottles with them for health reasons or to prevent a dry-coughing fit (a water bottle saved me during a wedding once). But it sounds like the people you're seeing are just weirdos--especially that milk-gallon jug guy. That is just odd, and he's probably going to get a staph infection off that thing.

CoolMom said... [reply]

The water bottle thing bugs me too. Why can't an adult sit for 70 mins without getting a drink. I go all day sometimes. People are so self absorbed. Now eating is another thing altogether. I sneak Dove bites into my pockets and sneak those babies out all the time.

Jimmy said... [reply]

I'm all for flying out to UT, taking you, and all your friends to a really nice, really crowded restaurant, and when the phones around us begin to ring, we can become the Slapping Cloud of Death.

If there was ever a punishment that probably didn't fit the crime, it's clubbing ignorant cellphonies. But I don't care. They deserve it. WHAM!

Jimmy said... [reply]

YOW! this entry was cathartic! Thanks :)

TannerJ5 said... [reply]

I for one, believe in the education systems strict policy: no cell phones expect for before, or after school.Get caught during school hours: bu bye phone.

Eva said... [reply]

One time I was at a play with a friend and a cell phone went off during the actor's speech. He stopped, looked out into the audience and said "Tell them we're BUSY!" *long pause* and then went back to his speech. It was AMAZING. Everyone else started to scramble for their phones to make sure they were silenced.

blackjazz said... [reply]

It's amazing that your law still permits people to drive a car and be on the phone! Studies have shown that a person on a phone is less capable of driving than somebody who's just over the limit for alcohol.

In the UK, driving on the phone was outlawed some time ago and the punishment was a 30 pound fine. Hands-free and blue-tooth are legal. Most journeys I made I saw at least one person breaking the law. They've recently increased the penalty to 60 pounds and 3 points on your license. (You lose your license if you get 12 points.) I don't see many on the phone now.

Maybe in the US people think they can do it because most cars are automatic, but that's compensated by the drivers not being as good ;-)

Usually Happy said... [reply]

At work once an employee disobeyed rule number three and had a nasty fight with his wife. At one point he loudly declared “We both just need to be alone for a while and figure things out!” and the next minute he was crying. I'm glad you made that a rule because I don't understand why people think this is okay.

Also, I think you should have a whole seperate rule about talking on the phone while using the restroom. Yesterday I heard a girl leave a long message for someone while she unbuttoned her pants, went to the bathroom, and then flushed the toilet. All of that is now officially recorded. Weird!

Scully said... [reply]

BlackJazz, some states have outlawed cell phone use, other than hands-free and blue tooth. Utah, however, is far behind the times and since most driving laws are left to a state's discretion, the federal government leaves it alone.

Nemesis said... [reply]

You're kidding, Mom. Aren't you?

Jimmy, that would pretty much be the Best Night Ever. I'm in.

Tannerj, that works for me. I'm not sure how to apply it to those who are out of school, but I'm sure there's a way.

Eva, I wish I'd been there. The closest I've come is when the audience started yelling at the lady who's cell phone kept going off.

Our laws let you spank kids in the middle of Wal*Mart, too, Blackjazz. It's a crazy system.

Oh my gosh, usuallyhappy. Now I'm dying to know who that was but I won't ask. I won't. And yes, he really should have rethought having that conversation a) not in person, and b) in front of all his coworkers.

April said... [reply]

#6!!! So. Freaking. True.

How many times a day do I hear cell phones trilling, then someone shouting, "Yeah, I'm at the library! The LIBRARY!" Really? Cuz you aren't acting like you're in a library. It's sad when children have better manners than their parents.

Panini said... [reply]

These *rules* seem a touch strident.

I'm an amazing driver, of the no-accident/no-ticket variety. And I often drive one-handed, so using one of my almost-always-free hands to engage in cell conversations with people during time that would otherwise be wasted, is one of the joys of driving in the car, very like talking to someone in the car, while I drive, one-handed.

Also, checkout people are paid to ring up purchases and take $, not be a buddy (which they never pretend to be anyway), so if you're talking to somebody more important than this checker and can manage to hand over money at the same time, power to you.

Nemesis said... [reply]

Seriously, April. Why don't we have rules against them in the libraries???

Panini, my mouth is hanging open right now at what you just said. You not being friends with the checker does not make it right for you to treat them with disrespect in favor of "more important" people.

chosha said... [reply]

"Do not have personal or emotional conversations on your cell phone in public. None of us want to be held hostage by your drama."

Take out the words "on your cell phone" and it's just as true.

Good list. Let the slapping begin.

chosha said... [reply]

Oh and I have a suggestion for themoncurs, though you have my agreement on the 'getting off the plane moment'. I avoid that 5 min waiting outside because if I don't I have to spend it with every smoker on the plane who is now desperate to fill their (and my) lungs with smoke (bear in mind the longest plane trip I regularly take in Australia is a mere two hours - time to quit, desperate people!)

HOWEVER, I tee up this arrangement with my ride beforehand, so when I get into town all I need to do is SEND A TEXT MESSAGE. They come pick me up on time, and nobody has to hear it. Simple.

Cicada said... [reply]

Panini, I am also that same kind of driver (no accidents, no tickets, always drive the speed limit, always stop at stop signs). I also drive one-handed sometimes. I also talk on the phone while driving sometimes.

But driving one-handed isn't the same as talking on the phone. Your ability to drive well isn't decreased because you're driving one-handed. It's decreased because you're driving distracted. Talking on the phone is more distracting than talking to someone next to you in the car. It is the distractedness that makes your driving skills worse than a drunk driver, not the one-handedness.

Panini said... [reply]

There's no reason you can't give them a smile when you come up--I'm baffled by your strict definitions of respect.

Nemesis said... [reply]

I guess we'll have to agree to disagree on this one, Pan.

ps. I found us a L**** bakery! You probably already know about it but I feel proud of myself anyway.

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