Cell Phones are a blight upon polite society.
It is a new twist on an old technology; which is all part of keeping in touch with each other. We're herd animals, we are, we need to bump up against each other, preen each other's pelts, rub our heads and noses against each other to feel comfortable and accepted. And because sometimes that gets a little complicated (Hey, you're preening his pelt, but I want you to pick the nits off of MY back, darnit!) we develop certain rules that make life easier, breezier, and more entertaining. We call those little rules "etiquette" darlings, and they're good little rules that should be observed by everyone regardless of class or station. Since you appreciate it when people are polite to you, it only stands to reason that you ought to be polite to others, no?
But we have these newfangled things called cell phones, and we haven't evolved any extensions or modifications of the rules of etiquette to cover them. As a result, many of you are awfully rude with your cell phones, and I for one have had enough of it! Emily Post and Ms. Manners may not have dealt with this issue, but I will, and fearlessly. Because damn you, damn you all, I'm sick of your poor cell phone etiquette, and I want it to stop. Here are a few simple rules, and their explanations.
- The person in person wins.
- Never have private conversations in public.
- In any situation in which it is rude to talk on a cell phone, it is also rude for your ringer to go off.
- Your phone comes with a voicemail option. Let people use it.
- The world is beautiful. You won't notice, if you are constantly on the phone.
This one is easy. Never talk on a cell phone when a real live person is attempting to communicate with you in any way. Ever. At all. Not when you're at the supermarket paying at the register, not when you're paying a toll on the turnpike - and most especially, absolutely, imperatively - not at the dinner table! If you answer a cell phone at a table at a restaraunt or in the home, and force others to keep quiet while you tell your honey about your day, your dining companions will be well justified to pelt you with food, beverages and ordure. That's a spankin' offense, at the very least.
No one wants to hear your half of the conversation, which is probably insipid and pointless anyway. At the very least, if you're going to share your inspidity with the world, allow others to participate. No phone calls on the train, in the elevator, at the mall. If you talk on the phone in a movie theatre, at a live performance, at a concert, or anywhere where everyone is paying attention to something and you're interrupting - wild and rabid weasels will be stuffed down your pants. Shut the phone off. If you must take a call when you're out and about (and you mustn't, I promise!) go somewhere that is at least ten feet away from everyone else, speak quietly, and inform the person calling you that you'll call them back later.
Similar to the above; if it's inappropriate to interrupt others with your private conversation, it's also inappropriate to shatter the mood with your poly-symphonic cell-phone version of "Muskrat Love". Have you ever had that moment when you thought "Boy, it would be embarassing if my cell phone went off now!"? Have you ever had a quiet or dramatic moment shattered by someone's cell phone ringing? This is because cretins can't remember to shut their phones off before it rings. I've heard cell phones go off at weddings, in churches, in job interviews - and even, for the sake of all that is fun and slappable, at a funeral. This is apalling. If your cell phone goes off in such a circumstance, it is incumbent on you to make amends, preferably in some wildly embarassing fashion. You owe everyone present an apology for your shocking rudeness. Listen darlings - you're not that important. No one needs to get a hold of you super-mega ohmygod-right-now fast. People who are that important have well-dressed assistants who carry the phone, and will quietly and politely inform the important person that they're urgently needed elsewhere. Their phones won't go off in public, so yours oughtn't either. As soon as you step outside your door at home, put your cell phone on 'vibrate'. Not only is this polite, if you keep your phone in your pants pocket, you will receive a pleasant reward for your good etiquette should someone call you.
Unless someone has called you and said, "Your mom is going into brain surgery right now. I'll call you the second she gets out!" you don't need to answer it. Let it go to voicemail and call back later. And, if you've been a good little duckling and left your phone on vibrate, this does mean you'll get the maximum happypants experience, too!
Downtown last week at my Aikido class, we put the mats out on the lawn, and practiced outdoors. It was an incredibly beautiful day - the sky was sapphire blue, the squirrels were a-scampering, the fleecy white clouds were a-scudding, and the birds were a-twittering. And every person who walked by had a cell phone stuck to the side of their head, nattering away like magpies in a tree, completely oblivious. This is baffling, but not dangerous. On the other hand, if you're in a car in traffic, it's a safety-hazard. Get a handsfree set, if you must speak in the car. But here's a thought - if you need to hear a human voice in order to feel comforted, why not get a book-on-tape? Not only will you get to hear someone patiently talking to you, and just you - but you might even learn something!
Now listen up, darlings. These rules are important. They're important because I'm going to go quite mad if one more person answers a phone at a table I'm sitting at and interrupts the conversation. And listen - if I ever get married, and someone answers their phone at the wedding? I'll have very mean dogs trained for just such an occasion. Oh sure, the wedding will be ruined, but they'll be talking about you for years. "Remember that guy who got savaged by gigantic dogs and Davy's wedding when his cell phone went off? Man, if that wasn't an omen of things to come -- whatever happened to that guy anyway, did they sew his face back on?" Don't be that guy.
So you should not only abide by these rules - but also spread them! Tell your friends, cell phone rules must now be abided by. Wild dogs and rabid weasels are standing by, for exactly that end.