11 January 2007

Public Cell Phone Use

Cell phones are everywhere. At the mall, in line, or even while driving, cell phone users hunch over their phone, blocking outside noise with a finger. Their every word is unavoidably loud. You have to listen to them complain about their unruly hair and failed relationships. It's enough to make you want to grab their phone and flush it down the nearest toilet.

Talking on the phone in public places is rude and distracting. Checking out takes twice as long when you're digging through your purse or wallet and telling your mom about the kids. C'mon, no one wants to hear your business.

Talking on the phone while driving is another topic, reserved for another time. This article focuses on appropriate cell phone use in public places.

Talking While Shopping
Try to avoid it. If you have to answer a call, keep it as short as possible. If you need to know if the other person needs you to pick up something, ask, but hang up after finding out what they need.

If you started the conversation before getting into line, politely tell the person to give you a moment while you pay. Or, tell them you'll call them back. Don't tell the person you're at the store and keep talking. The cashier is a living person standing in front of you. They cannot do their job properly if you're chatting with someone who's on the other side of the state.

Apologizing to the cashier and/or others waiting in line doesn't make it okay.

Don't Do Business in Line
If you're a businessperson, this is especially true for you. Having a client on the phone while shopping and/or checking out is unprofessional. If the call is to set up an appointment, do so, but don't discuss confidential information in a public place. It's like walking out in your underwear and naively believing someone isn't going to take pictures.

But What if it's an Emergency?
The phone is bound to ring while you're waiting in line. If it's an emergency, excuse yourself. Find a secluded place to have the conversation. If the call is not an emergency, let the person know you'll call them back after you've finished paying.

Bottom line: Respect yourself, and respect others. Cell phones are here to stay; we simply need to hold each other accountable for acceptable public behavior.

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