I was sitting in a local restaurant the other night with my mom and my daughter, just having a little “girls’ night out.” We were thinking it would be a peaceful evening away from home, but we quickly found out otherwise.
Before we even had a chance to order our food, three women, who were obviously social butterflies, were seated directly across the aisle from us. From the minute they sat down, one woman’s cell phone started ringing.
I realize that when one carries a phone around 24 hours a day, calls will often come at inappropriate times. It has happened to me often enough to understand this fact.
But when I am in a public place and I receive a call, I will either excuse myself and walk outside, or at least keep my half of the conversation down to a dull roar so I will not interfere with everyone else’s evening.
Unfortunately, not everyone feels this is a necessary characteristic.
Upon the first ring of the woman‘s phone, which was set way too loud to an obscene little hip-hop song, she screamed “HELLO” into her phone. Shooting her an annoyed glance, I attempted to continue our current conversation in the direction it was heading, but got continuously side-tracked by this utterly rude person yelling into her flip phone.
Finally, she ended the call and began talking to her friends in a normal tone of voice. Once again, I tried to speak, but before I could get a sentence out of my mouth, her phone rang again. And again, she screamed into the receiver as she answered.
Growing more tense by the moment, we all just sat in silence until that conversation was complete. For the third time I began to tell the same story that had still not been allowed to escape my mouth, and about four words into it ... Yep, her phone rings again.
For the entire meal, we were unable to utter more than a few words without interruption. Since this person found herself incapable of using a normal speaking voice while using her phone, I turned into a giant stress-ball on my “peaceful” evening out.
I think the only people in existence who didn’t call the woman that evening were those who were sitting in the restaurant, and that’s because everyone in the place could hear her business and had no need to talk to her further. Everyone else within a 100-mile radius chose to ring her phone in that 60-minute time span while she munched on buffalo wings and I fumed.
Honestly believing that was the most ill-mannered act I would ever see, I again found out I was wrong.
A few days later, sitting in a restaurant in Fayetteville, a cell phone rang a couple of tables over from us. The man pushed a button and yelled his greeting. “Not again,” I said. Then I heard something that sent a rush of anger through me. It was a simple “beep-beep.”
He had a Nextel phone. Arggg!
For those of you who may not be aware of what is, in my opinion, the worst thing ever invented, let me give you a brief run-down of the annoyance of a Nextel phone.
It is, in many ways, like a regular cell phone, but it can be used like a walkie-talkie. It is like a speakerphone gone wild, because each time the person finishes talking, the phone beeps and then you hear the person on the other end through the speaker.
In other words, not only did we have a rude man screaming into his phone like he’d lost his mind, but we had to listen to the other person screaming back at him too. And on top of it all, that dreaded “beep-beep” came each time he said something.
I think users should be required to take a class on cell phone etiquette before they are allowed to purchase one. There are very few lessons that need to be learned and they are quite easy to understand.
First, as I said earlier, being a cell phone owner, I realize that a call can come in at any time. However, in a public place, it is often better to either put your phone on vibrate or at least turn the ringer volume down just a bit. This is especially handy when you download a ringtone with a parental guidance label attached.
Second, unless you or your caller are hearing impaired, there is no reason to scream at each other. The receiver volume can also be adjusted so that their is no need to screech like a monkey at the zoo when you answer your call. In fact, most people are capable of holding an entire phone conversation without shattering windows.
Next lesson — Nextel phones are evil. Not only do I not want to clearly hear all of your half of the conversation, I also do not want to hear the call in its entirety, especially when it includes your baby’s bodily functions or your recent trip to the doctor’s office. Both of these rank high in the “too much information” category.
And last, but definitely not least, if these three little things are too complex, only two simple words are needed — “Excuse me.” Walk out the door and scream to your heart’s content.
For those who need to learn a thing or two from the above lesson, I have one question:
Can you hear me now?
— Griffin is a staff writer with the Bladen Journal. She can be reached by phone at 862-4163 or by e-mail at email@example.com.