I never thought I’d have to deal with peer pressure in my late twenties. But I’ve caved to popular opinion once again — I finally bought a cell phone.
For years, I swore that I’d never need one. After overhearing countless phone conversations everywhere I went, I wanted to avoid becoming one of those people. You know, the ones who feel compelled to constantly gab on the phone regardless of their surroundings or any potential disturbance to people nearby.
I’ll concede that a cell phone might come in handy occasionally, and that’s why I bought one. Plans to go out with friends can change at the last minute, and now I can keep up with everyone instead of passively waiting for a call at home. But even though I own a cell phone, I feel obligated to use it sparingly in public places.
Soon after I purchased my new phone and calling plan, the local transportation authority, SEPTA, began posting flyers on the regional rail lines that I ride to work each day. The notices, aptly titled, PLEASE BE CONSIDERATE OF OTHERS ON THE TRAIN, list several reminders for cell phone etiquette. Here are some of their suggestions and my comments on them:
- Limit cell phone use to essential calls only. On a crowded commuter train, none of your fellow passengers want to know whether your co-worker received your “urgent” e-mail or hear about your Aunt Esther’s hip replacement. Most calls can wait 30 minutes, and you know it.
- Keep conversations brief. If you need to let your spouse know when to pick you up, that’s understandable. But don’t start asking what’s for dinner and if the dog has been let out. Rambling conversations are particularly obnoxious.
- Speak in a low voice. Mass transit vehicles are not exactly roomy, and sound travels remarkably well in them. In such close quarters, most commuters quietly pass their time by reading the newspaper or taking a nap. So if you absolutely must call someone, pipe down, will you?
- Set ringers on vibrate or mute mode. A loud ring tone can be as annoying as the conversation that follows it. Turn the volume down from 11 to prevent startling those around you (or waking the dead, for that matter).
By the way, public transportation aside, carefully evaluate your location before placing a call. I’ve seen people chatting on their phones in public restrooms, for crying out loud. Multitasking to that extreme is ridiculous — and a bit disturbing.
Well, I feel better after that little tirade. Oh, wait — I have a call…
[ No. 11 ]