First, cell phones are fabulous and can be used effectively in many situations. If you have an emergency, it’s really nice to have a way to contact someone. Cell phones make it easier to keep up with kids, family, and friends. So, yes, cell phones are fine in many circumstances.
Unfortunately, many people do not know where to draw the line. Unless you’re the president of a country or a medical doctor on call, then it’s really doubtful that your business is so pressing that you have to check your phone and send out text messages when you’re interacting with other people.
Here are a few examples of bad cell phone behaviors I’ve experienced:
1. I’m teaching a class and a student pulls out the cell phone and proceeds to text happily away. This will, of course, be the student who comes by my office asking for extra help with class assignments, because she was not paying attention in class.
2. Ugh. Sinus infection. I go to the doctor’s office and sit and sit and sit while listening to a conversation about someone’s dog, hair appointment, boyfriend, and unusual rash. This conversation is, of course, LOUD. It’s a cell phone. You really don’t have to yell. Actually, you really don’t have to chat up the whole waiting room with your personal business. We don’t want to know.
3. “Hi. How are you doing?” It’s great to hear from an old friend on the phone. “Two tacos. Large Root Beer . . . uhm . . . hot sauce, not the hot-hot sauce.” What’s up with this? I get five minutes in the fast food line and get to hear the whole order as well as the slurping and chewing. That’s not much of a visit in my book.
4. Trust me. We can hear the toilet flush when you multi task your bathroom business along with your cell phoning. It’s not a great mental picture either.
5. Terrific. Date night. Partner spends the whole time on the cell phone. Want to go out again? No thanks. I’d rather spend the evening with the TV which is more interactive than hanging out with someone texting messages all evening.
6. Poor sales clerk and poor customers in line. We are all waiting for you to get your stuff done, but you’re totally engrossed in your phone call. Kindly move to the back of the line and let those who are paying attention get checked out.
7. My all time favorite (not) is the server who waited my table while chatting on his cell phone. I didn’t leave a tip (the only time I’ve ever not left one), and I’ve not been back to that restaurant and do not plan to do so.
I’m sure readers have other cell phone stories just as bad or worse. My bad cell phone experiences have just been annoying, but some are deadly. Many states are cracking down with tough laws prohibiting the use of cell phones while driving. You wouldn’t think that legislatures would have to get involved, but it has become necessary.
Here are some common sense tips for cell phone users:
1. The person in front of you takes precedence over the person sending you text messages, unless it is a true emergency.
2. Excuse yourself if you feel you must talk or text on the cell phone. Find a quiet spot and enjoy yourself and let others do their own thing if you can’t stay tuned in.
3. Put your cell phones away (and turn them off) in public places and especially in venues where others are enjoying some type of entertainment or are trying to learn something or don’t feel well and just want to get in, out, and back home.
4. People working service jobs are people too. Don’t pretend like the neighborhood cashier is the Red Box DVD machine and not offended by being treated like a non-person.
5. Don’t overdo the multi-tasking. If you don’t have time to talk, then let the phone pick up the message and call back when you do have time to talk.
6. Even if you are the master texter, do know that others notice that you are doing strange things in your pocket. Don’t try to sneak text. That’s an eye roller for sure.
7. Don’t drive and text even if it’s not illegal in your state yet. I don’t want another state trooper at my doorstep telling me a loved one is dead in a traffic accident.