I know it's dark, but it makes the point. My poor friend was out to dinner, unfortunately seated next to this rube who spent 45 minutes conversing loudly about nothing. While playing with his laptop. He's lucky that all that was snapped was his picture.
So, let's review. Here is a list of public places where people are congregating that are ok to have a loud, long, personal cell phone conversation:
What you have to say might well be important to you, but unless you're calling 911 with a genuine report that the sky is falling, what you have to say is both uninteresting and intrusive to the people around you. If you need to have a long chat with your broker, your mother, your soothsayer and can't wait until you're in your own home, find a quiet place away from people trying to do business, dine, enjoy the fresh air or, God forbid, have a conversation with another person who is actually present. So let's try again.
Places where it's okay to have brief, quiet cell phone convo:
-In transit. But be mindful of the people around you. Watch where you're walking; don't become an obstacle as well as a noise nuisance. If you are on a train or bus, be brief and quiet, making sure your voice is no louder than it would be if you were telling the person next to you exactly where you found the hidden treasure of a store that offers free mochaccinos and foot massage while you peruse video iPods for 50% below retail. Hello, minimal necessary info, goodbye. If you're in your car, pull over. No matter how capable you think you are, statistics unequivocally show that your response time is much slower when you're on the phone. It's illegal to talk/text and drive in many places, and there is new technology coming out to disable cell phones in moving cars. I personally know at least one person who received a costly ticket for this infraction. Even thought I like the person, I was glad to see this law being enforced.
-While shopping. Never if you're in line. For anything. (Except perhaps the DMV where, no matter what, you will be in line for two hours. Dante had nothing on the DMV.) You know it: there's nothing worse than being stuck in line at the supermarket with someone who's gabbing away. Like the car, no matter how coordinated you think you are, there's no quick and graceful way to unload a grocery cart or fish out a credit card while talking on the phone. It holds up the line and is just plain rude to the cashier. And, again, be mindful of the space you're taking up, both physically and noise-wise. The woman behind you wants to be able to reach the glove display, too, and she does not want to hear the details of your recent bikini wax.
No one ever, ever wants to hear the details of your recent bikini wax.
Places where it is not okay. Ever.
-Theaters. Do I even need to explain why?
-Business meetings. Ditto.
-Lectures, presentations, memorials, anywhere you have gone to listen to what someone else has to say. Because, unless they ask, what you have to say here, especially to someone not here, is completely unimportant.
-Hospitals and other medical facilities. First of all, many such places have equipment which can be compromised by cell phone use. Okay, so I'm not sure I entirely believe that either, but do you really want to take the chance that your call to book a manicure might cause a blip in someone's MRI? Secondly, medical facilities are, by nature, stressful places for many people. Don't make it worse by gabbing.
If you absolutely must be communicado (and I'm a mom; I understand) put the phone on vibrate and tuck it into your pocket or lap. It will be available and as discreet as a telephone can be. When it summons you, enjoy the little tickle, then politely excuse yourself and take the call where no one will be bothered by it.
Loved this commercial illustrating this societal scourge: