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While waiting at a light the other day, I saw two people in a car together. I decline to say a “couple” because of what I saw. Each individual had his and her cell phone plastered to an ear! Ok, maybe I am really going out on a limb here, but when in the company of others in a car, we legal people might call that a “captive audience” – someone who is in such a position as can not avoid your conversation. So when one takes a phone call while in a car with another, you inherently subject the non-phoning person to an uncomfortable and blatant situation in which you have made the choice to simply ignore that person.

For the umpteenth time, I will declare (yet again) that I am a bit old fashioned. But I feel like when people sign up for a cell phone plan, they should be required to attend an etiquette class before being given free reign of mobile communications.

If I were to teach this class it would go something like this:
A Class in Polite Company
by Yours Truly
1. When dining (in, out, or otherwise), cell phones should be silenced. Period. Not vibrate. Not low. Silenced, or better yet, Off. There is very little in this world that would require your attention during the 1.3 hours that you might spend on a lovely dinner date with someone. For those few times that you absolutely need to be reached, by all means… but then again, you should probably not be on a date if someone is near death, anyway.
2. When driving with someone, do not accept a phone call. The whole ‘captive audience’ thing is extraordinarily rude, and yet also magnified by the circumstances and accommodations.  Unless you need directions. Then, by all means, phone a friend for goodness sakes and spare your passenger from riding around with you any longer than he or she has to!
3. The golf course, movie theatre, and library are places that should not be bothered by the “T-Mobile Jingle,” Fergie’s latest single, or the Mission Impossible theme song.
4. Places not to carry on a conversation [when you are by yourself]: while checking out at the store [courtesy to the clerk, please!]; in the doctor’s office, during the 18% of the time the doctor is actually in there with you; while going through the drive-through [unless you are really adept at using the ‘mute’ button, the other side does not care to know that you just super-sized your Quarter Pounder meal]; and, of course, the bathroom [the mute rule applies here too].

So where did polite company go? I mean, a few weeks back, I mentioned how frustrating it is to be a phone talker and to have the person on the other end of the line still engaging in conversation with the people he or she is actually, physically with. What about those people? They too are getting a raw deal because they are choosing to actually spend time with that person… and he or she is choosing to not spend time with or attention to them.

I know I am waging an up-hill battle. And while once in a while it may be tolerable, don’t make it a habit to disregard your own company.

But I will say this: I do have Residual trained fairly well. We can spend time together and I never worry about being so rudely interrupted. And I offer him the same respect.  And while he is only one person, you have to start somewhere.

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One thought on “Polite Company (or, Communication Etiquette, lesson II)

  1. Pingback: Montreal Flavor (or, Welcome, Stranger) « Thursday Morning Meditations

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