Cell Phone Politeness (or not)

A couple of weeks ago I was waiting in line at the grocery store. A friend of mine called my cell phone and we had a nice little conversation. As I got toward the front of the line I could tell the lady behind me was very put out. She was sighing loudly and loading her items onto the conveyor belt a little too forceably. The man in front of me was paying so I had nothing to do but stand there. Which is boring. So I kept talking on the phone. But I realized that she thought me rude for being on my phone. I wanted to ask her why it’s rude to be on my cell phone. Was she planning on talking to me? Had she been looking forward to the conversation she and I would be having while we were standing there? No. Of course not. It may be Texas but we’re not that friendly! Apparently I have to sit there in stone cold silence while I’m waiting in line; anything else is rude.  Would she have thought me rude if my friend was standing there with me and we were having the exact same conversation? Doubtful. Although maybe so. What difference does it make that I’m on a phone? (Just so you know, when it was my turn to check out I hung up, made dumb small talk with the check-out guy, paid and left.)

It really all boils down to who is more important: the person on the phone or the person in front of you. Which means that if I’m at a store it’s always going to be the person on the phone. Sorry, check-out people, I’m just not that into you. (Although if you work at a store you’d better give me your undivided attention; you’re paid to do that. If I’m not on the phone, that is.)

One of my friends posted on Facebook about how she was having a conversation with a friend who kept texting other people the entire time. This issue is a little more of a slippery slope. On one hand I get texts constantly: from my kids, my husband, friends, ward members, the Bishop. I like to check them because you never know when something will be important and maybe just need a quick response (such as Mister texting me, “where did you put my car keys???”) I take ten seconds to respond. To me this is a lot less rude than answering a phone call asking the same thing.  I like texting because I can glance at the message and–most of the time–ignore it or answer it later. But sometimes I will text back while someone is talking to me. My ears aren’t broken, after all. I can still listen. Obviously if the conversation is really serious, I try to avoid it. But usually I’ll say, “give me a second to take care of this” We live in a modern world where multi-tasking is the order of the day. I don’t want to be rude, but what exactly is rude these days?

I’m sure my grandmother would think all of this is not at all polite. But then, this is the same woman who has actually said the n-word as she described a black person. So obviously we all have different standards about what is polite and acceptable behavior.  What’s your opinion? Is using your cell phone to communicate in public a big no-no? Or is it just fine? The majority rules, so let me hear what everybody thinks!


9 thoughts on “Cell Phone Politeness (or not)

  1. There was a lady during kindergarten camp whose phone rang during one of the sessions. She answered it and started talking while everyone else was sitting there listening to the person in the front talking. She didn’t get up and leave. Just sat there and continued to talk. I felt like that was rude to the other people around her trying to pay attention as well as the person giving her schpeel about lunch food. Especially since the phone talker was in the front row.

    That said, if I’m in a place where I can answer my phone, I”m going to do it. Rarely do people just call me on my cell phone to just chat so they obviously need something. I dont feel like it’s rude. But if someone else answered their phone and couldn’t put their grocerie on the cart because of the phone call, I would be annoyed. But if they can do that and talk, more power to them. I can rarely answer my cell phone because hte minute the phone is answered, it’s like my chilren know they can run around and be crazy people.

  2. Most of the time I try to ignore my phone when I am not in what I think is a good situation to use it. This includes: work, class, the car, talking with someone else etc. But I think I’m the exception to regular cell phone rules, since I am 22 and not glued to the thing 24/7. Honestly I do get kind of annoyed when people are texting others whole talking to me. It’s mostly constant texting that bothers me. But I don’t have kids and the times when someone is trying to contact me about something truly urgent is rare. My opinion is to keep it to a minimum around other people you are trying to talk to in person.

  3. I think that talking on a phone while waiting in line is fine, so long as you maintain awareness of those around you. I’ve been in situations where I would like to get someone’s attention to ask them something, yet they are yammering away in public and facing away from me. On the other hand, I would tap them on the shoulder rather than getting all passive-aggressive like the gal you describe.

    As far as texting while having a face-to-face conversation? I do it (as you say, you want to check to see if your daughter is needing a ride or whatever); but I make sure to explain what I am doing: “Oh, let me see if that’s my daughter; she might need a ride.” Or, “I need to text my husband back so he doesn’t forget the pizza for dinner.” I wouldn’t attempt to continue conversing with the person while I’m texting (aside from the aforementioned explanations). If someone did that to me, I would hate it. Essentially, you are trying to carry on 2 conversations at once; and I just wouldn’t want to be a part of that.

  4. no opinion, just funny cell phone stories. I had just moved to a new town and the RS pres came to visit me. She was a little old lady. About 2 minutes into the visit her cell phone rang. I thought it was funny she even had one. She answered it and talked on the phone for over a half hour while her poor counselor was trying to think of things to talk to me about. Then the pres got off the phone and spent another hour asking me the same questions I just answered.
    And in the ward I am in now we have more old ladies with cell phones. And they like to answer them and talk right in the middle of RS. They are politely told to leave and talk in the hall. So they do. Right outside the open door. Which we then shut in their face. They also like to lay on the floor, propped up on elbows, hands under their chin, feet in the air swinging back and forth like a little kid during the lesson. Funniest thing ever.

  5. Opinions:
    1. If the cell phone alerts you when you are in a meeting, and it’s obviously important enough to take, quietly LEAVE THE MEETING as well as the area where your phone conversation would be overheard. To speak aloud when an official speaker is trying to teach or conduct is simply RUDE to everyone in the room! (I can’t believe chatting from the floor!)
    2. If you are talking to someone else, DON’T text without saying “Please excuse me a second, this requires an urgent replay.” Then get right off and pay attention to the original conversation. One friend is constantly but inconspicuously texting the entire time I talk with her. It really makes me feel marginalized.
    3. I’ve been chastised twice by a good friend that when we are talking, and another phone call or message comes in, he is horribly offended if i say, “I’m sorry, I’ve gotta take this call. It’s urgent.” I would personally not be at all offended by this, but his irritation has sensitized me to the fact that he feels it like a slap when I express that somebody else might be more important during our conversation than he is. But then, I have a knee jerk reaction about answering any phone that rings.
    4. One thing for sure, and this advice applies especially to myself — whenever talking on a cell phone in public, speak softly. I tend to be loud, and I’m sure it isn’t appreciated for me to broadcast my phone conversation, making everyone turn and look at me. I guess it’s rather like yelling in public. We have too much noise pollution anyway. Now if I can only take my own advice!
    5. Of course, every mother understands when another mother has to constantly interrupt her conversation to issue orders, corrections, or answers to her family. If they take offense, they ought to call only when the mom is guaranteed alone.

  6. I have two big cell phone pet peeves:
    1) The person talking on their cell in public talks REALLY loudly. Like everyone around them wants to hear their conversation. Some people talk waaay louder on their cell than they would to a person next to them. Is it because they think reception is that bad? Or because they’re just clueless? I think the latter. And that’s why it bugs me.
    2) People who text while they’re talking to me. Checking your text to see if it’s important is fine. But if it isn’t important, wait until later to respond. If you must respond, have the decency to say, “Hang on a minute, I need to text X about Y.” You wouldn’t stop right in t he middle of a live conversation and start up another one with someone else. It would be rude. Well, I see texting during a live conversation the same way.

    Mostly I like to laugh at those idiots walking around with a bluetooth device in their ear talking really loudly so that it looks like they’re a crazy person talking to themselves. It always gives me a good chuckle.

  7. Totally depends on whether I am feeling generous or b****y what’s ok or not. Isn’t that how we all are?

  8. Personally, I would rather not deal with someone in line talking on a cell phone. I don’t think you did anything wrong but I’ve done it, too, and feel so rude. I can be putting my stuff on the counter and then say I’ve got to go before being rung up but it’s just kind of like you’re in this rather intimate setting or something once “you’re up” or almost up to the counter. I can understand the irritation and your attitude that went with it. But I didn’t grow up with cell phones. I think ANY call can wait a minute unless its a TRUE emergency. I just think when you’re in line or something you should stay off the phone. Period.

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