Saturday, February 12, 2005

"Please Turn Off All Cellular Phones"

I think most people would agree that manners matter. As people go, Hoosiers are pretty mannerly, but sometimes we could improve. Take, for example, cellular phones.

Just so you know, I'm not an anti-cell phone zealot. I love my phone. (I secretly revel in its tinyness.) I couldn't live without it, but sometimes, I think we should learn to do without once in a while in the name of good manners.

A couple of weeks ago, I was traveling and witnessed the most amazing thing. At dinner in a fairly nice Thai restaurant, a business guy's phone rang. "Ring!!!" He answered. I heard it from three tables away. He did not seem to have the ability to talk in a lower tone of voice -- only at full volume.

When it became obvious after the first few seconds that he wasn't going to hang up with a polite "Hey, I'm in the middle of dinner, can I call you back?" the manager went over to his table -- and very politely asked him to take it outside. I was terribly impressed.

The man on the phone wasn't angry. He didn't complain, or make a snarky comment or swear he was never coming back. He just politely took the call outside where I’m guessing the temperature cut things short. It was as if he didn't even realize he was disrupting other meals and conversations. But yet, people were surprised.

Was the manger's behavior out of line?Another scenario: Guys may not have this problem, but girls, you know you've heard that woman in the restroom at a restaurant or the movies chatting away on her mobile phone. It's much more disturbing than overhearing someone in a restaurant, but could you ask her to take it outside? Would you?

It makes you wonder what ever happened to self-awareness. With the ability to turn your ringer off (ooh, or to "vibrate") and with headsets with tiny microphones, nothing is stopping people from exercising mannerly use of phones. If you're speaking in a low tone of voice, not interfering with anyone's meal, then your conversation is fine with me.

While I would support a smoking ban for local bars and restaurants, I'm not sure I'd feel the same about "Please turn off all cellular phones" policies in all my favorite establishments (except maybe the bathrooms.) I think we all need to exercise some self-awareness and police ourselves.

And as enforcements go, my phone already goes dead at the Oceanaire bar making it a de facto "no cell phone" zone. If they could fix that, I'd promise to try to be more self-aware. But I'm sure I wouldn't mind if a few more managers asked people to take it outside.


At Sun Feb 13, 08:58:00 AM, Blogger Erudite Redneck said...

Speaking of. How did the column-writing audition thing turn out?

At Sun Feb 13, 09:22:00 AM, Blogger braingirl said...

Ahh, leave it to an editor to spot recycled material. Luckily, I was passed over. It's good to keep writing for all the right reasons.


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