The story last week about a woman escorted off a train in Oregon after she reportedly spent 16 hours talking on her cell phone in the “quiet car” raised a few eyebrows, not so much at her boorish behavior as at her endurance. A 16-hour yakathon might not get one in the Guinness Book of World Records, but that’s some impressive lung power at work, not to mention the increase in greenhouse gases.
Sadly, I doubt anyone was really surprised at the fact that she did it in the first place. Who hasn’t found themselves behind some windbag in line at the grocery store or coffee shop, who can’t be bothered to stop flapping their gums long enough to give their attention to what’s in front of them – or give a toss about the seething people stacked up in line behind them while they finish sharing all the details of their latest dental exam? It’s such a common sight that a coffee shop near me has a sign by the counter informing customers they’ll be passed over if they’re on their phones while waiting to order. I’ve never seen the rule enforced so I don’t know if it’s caused any angry walkouts, but I’ve never seen anyone break the rule, either.
Rude cell phone users in theaters (movie and live-action) are another common problem. In my experience, most of them have enough sense to finish their calls soon after the movie starts, but the texters are not so quick on the uptake. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been irritated to the brink of homicidal thoughts by screens blinking on and off like fireflies on meth and the tap-tap-tap-*ping* of messages being sent and received. No doubt the fate of the entire world depends on these vital exchanges.
Lately, or so it seems to me, a new frontier has been opened to the cell phone-dependent: public restrooms. Three times in the past month I’ve gone into the ladies’ (twice at Panera, so maybe there’s something about them that attracts this type of person) and found myself the unwitting audience to a one-sided conversation, frequently conducted at normal speaking volume.
I wonder what’s going through these people’s minds when they sit down (or squat, if they’re a hoverer) and dial in. Do they believe the stall’s flimsy metal walls afford them any sort of privacy? Do they think I’ll be so weirded out by the discovery of someone talking on the phone I’ll beat a hasty retreat? (Fat chance: when I gotta go, I gotta go.) Do they just not care?
And what of the person on the other end? What must they be thinking when they hear the toilet flush in the background, or the tell-tale echo of voices inside those cement-block walls? I usually like to do my business as quickly and as quietly as possible, but times likes these have me seriously tempted to produce all sorts of loud and disgusting sounds. I think I’d be rather offended and grossed out if someone called me from a public toilet.
Honestly, cell phone addicts, were you raised in a barn?