While I don’t have a problem with the fact that cell phone communication, verbal or texting, has become the primary method of connecting (okay, that’s a lie. It makes me crazy), I can’t understand why cell phone users often behave like bad drivers. Obviously, many of us think we’re the only one on the road, so we can do whatever we damn well please and you can just get out of the way.
It’s human nature to occasionally forget that we’re not the only person on the planet. We pass the time in crowded dental waiting rooms by loudly listing the ingredients for Mom’s famous fruitcake recipe to Hubs at Safeway. A gentle reminder or “look” from the person next to us may cause us to take it outside, but is more likely to result in a rude finger gesture and a clearly mouthed “Bite me.”
But for those of you who regularly become “that guy” (and you know who you are), who frequently becomes the topic of annoyed conversation for an entire restaurant staff and patrons, it’s good to remember that this does not make you look important. It makes you look like an arrogant jackass. To avoid this unfortunate distinction, here are some guidelines that you might consider periodically reviewing so we all continue to love each other and behave nicely.
There will be times that you need to turn your phone off. Lunch with Mom, attending a wedding (ditto a funeral), a romantic date, church, your kids’ piano recital. And (why do I need to say this?) during sex. Movies and TV shows regularly script a couple making steamy whoopee, when his cell phone rings. He groans and she rolls her eyes, but they breathlessly stop what they’re doing. He answers his phone, while she takes the opportunity to check her messages. Seriously?? All I can conclude is that one of you is doing it wrong.
You don’t need to shout anymore. It’s true that when cell phones first came out, it quickly became the “Can you hear me now?” era, where every call had us running around the house, phones held in the air, anxiously searching for the strongest signal, and shouting into the phone trying to be heard at the other end. That time has passed, people. They can hear you now. You can use your inside voice and speak normally. Truly, we don’t care about your vacation plans, your horrible boss, or that hot new chick you banged last night at your class reunion.
If you text while driving, you should lose your license. Forever. And while we’re at it, we’re also taking away your damn phone. If you’re that stupid, you shouldn’t have either one. I’m not prepared to die because you couldn’t remember if your wife picked up your dry cleaning. If you must text while in motion, do it while you’re walking. At least we get some entertainment value out of watching you smack face first into a light post you didn’t see because you had your head down, reading your phone.
“I’ve got to take this” is not, in fact, always true. And in the middle of your 5-year-old daughter’s ballet recital, you look like a self-important douche. I know this is a tough one, but the world will not come to an end because you’re unavailable for a couple of hours while you celebrate your parents’ 50th anniversary, visit with your 90-year-old grandmother, or spend a romantic evening with your wife (assuming she hasn’t left your inconsiderate ass after 15 years of hearing “I’ve gotta take this” in the middle of every date night).
If you simply must take a call, take it outside. As fascinating as your recent colonoscopy undoubtedly was, we all don’t need to hear every detail for the entire duration of our meal. And that real estate deal you’re trying to close before that jerk at your office beats you out of the commission is really not anything we give a crap about, so get off the treadmill and out of the gym. Or better yet, go home and take care of your business, then come back and join us.
Lower your ring volume. Since you have your phone permanently attached to your body at all times, or God forbid, you insist on wearing one of those ridiculous ear pieces all day long, you don’t need the ringer on High. (Honestly, how do you take a shower? Never mind, I don’t want to know…) Pick a nonoffensive ringtone, then lower the volume a couple of notches. Yes, we can all still hear you and know how important you are. You just won’t be quite as annoying.
Don’t overshare. I hear people all the time freely offering up details of their private lives, and the lives of others, on their cell phones. While in public. To avoid an ugly scene when your best friend finds out you told a golf buddy about his mistress, during a cell phone call you had while sitting in a restaurant behind his wife’s BFF (true story), here’s a general rule: If you wouldn’t do it in public, don’t talk about it in public.
Consider the setting. Nothing kills a Zen retreat or a quiet day of reading by the lake like the persistent ringing of some idiot’s cell phone. We get it. You need to be connected to the world 24/7. You’re The Guy. Holidays, weekends getaways, and moments of solitude and quiet contemplation are for losers. We understand. And we respect your choices. We’d just like to respect you from a distance.
So there you have it. We’re all friends again. Now let’s talk about texting.