Cell Phones and Perfect Propriety, Vol. 13, Issue 22

Dear Etiquetteer: Okay, is it just me? My boyfriend and I were in a Restaurant/Bar, on the Bar side having drinks and dinner. A father and son came in and sat down at one of the bar side tables. Within five minutes the son receives a call from his mother. I say this because he had it on speaker phone. Just when it was beginning to annoy me, I received a call, answered and walked away to the back hall to have my conversation. When I returned ten minutes later, the son was still on his speaker phone talking to his mother. What amazed me is the father had no problem with his son subjecting 20 people IN A BAR to his conversation with his mother. I thought having to listen to one sided conversations in line at stores was bad enough. At least I eventually walk away.

Dear Phoned:

Remember phone booths? For those of you under the age of 30, phone booths were tiny compartments usually no bigger than a shower stall containing a pay phone, a phone book, and a tiny bench behind a bi-fold door. Etiquetteer thinks it's high time to bring them back, but without the pay phone. Clearly enough people are wandering around inflicting their private lives on us at full volume over their cell phones that every bar and restaurant could use one or two.

Etiquetteer cannot say enough - and should not have to say to begin with - that if you're going out with people, be with those people, and not with people at the other end of a device. Now Life does intervene - even Etiquetteer understands this - but unavoidable interruptions need to be kept to a minimum. Etiquetteer prevents them altogether by turning a cell phone OFF. If that isn't an option, one can at least let nonessential calls (e.g. someone you don't think will be calling from the hospital) go to voicemail.

(And so often these conversations are like one Etiquetteer had to follow unavoidably down a sidewalk over the weekend: "Mom? Can you hear me? CAN YOU HEAR ME? CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW? I just wanted to tell you we're on the way!" The entire conversation was not necessary. He could have just gotten there punctually and no phoning would have been required. Just because we have cell phones doesn't mean we always need them.)

Etiquetteer thanks you for removing yourself from the bar so that your own phone conversation could be held without disturbing anyone, and trusts you let your boyfriend know in advance that you might have to interrupt your time together with a call, and apologized for leaving him alone in a public place for an extended period during which time some Seductive Temptress might try to steal him away from you. Which is another good reason to limit distractions from Absent Friends . . .