Saturday, November 22, 2008

Cell Phone Etiquette Gone Wrong

No Cell PhoneWe've all seen them: people who don't pay attention or care about the people around them. I see people driving erratically because they're on the phone, having obnoxious ring tones loudly blasting at movies or at dinner, and people talking loudly at restaurants and, in this case, a doctor's office.

When I go to get my allergy shot, I have to then stay in the waiting room for 30 minutes to be sure that I don't have a negative reaction (Anaphylactic shock). At times there are loud kids or people having conversations, but today...

There is a sign at the front desk asking you not bother other patients by using your cell phone. As I'm waiting (only one or two minutes into my required 30), a father and his two young (8 and 10?) sons, who were there to get shots, come in and sit down. Almost immediately, the father takes out his cell phone and makes a call. People do it (no, I haven't) but they are usually courteous enough to keep their calls short and quiet. This guy was not quiet. And I could tell based on the conversation that it would be a long one. It sounded like an uncle catching up with a nephew about the nephew's family.

After a few minutes of this (maybe 3 or 4), I looked at the guy and he looked at me. I said, "Come on, man. Excuse yourself." I may have even said "Please excuse yourself" because that's how I normally interact with people, but I may have been pissed enough not to say "Please".

And what does Mr. Polite do? He gives me the finger. WTF? We were sitting at a corner of the waiting room where there are three chairs along the wall (of which I'm in the farthest from the corner). Then, along the adjacent wall, there is a cart for books and another chair. The boys are sitting in the two chairs to my right and the father was sitting next to the book cart. So, right in front of his young boys, this jerk flips me off.

For a split second, I tried to decide what to do. I then decided that if people are going to choose to act like a jerk in front of their kids and not even consider those around him, I was going to make him take responsibility for his action. I raised my voice and said, "Really? You're going to rudely talk on your phone in the waiting room and then give me the finger in front of your kids when I ask you to excuse yourself? Really?"

After a minute or two, he did get up. I was concerned for a minute that he'd take a swing at me. But he didn't. He walked away, said something to the woman at the desk and walked out into the hallway. I felt really bad for his kids. I didn't mean to make them feel bad, but they were clearly embarrassed. After a while, the father had not come back in. One of the boys asked the other where daddy was. The other responded that he was probably in the hallway. But, when my thirty minutes were up, he was not in the hallway when I left. I thought I saw him go into one of the unoccupied rooms in the office. But, I was kind of concerned that he'd jump me in the hall. But I had a safe walk to my car.

I could have kept my mouth shut, but every time it was his turn to talk in his conversation, I would lose my place in the book I was reading. And, as much care as I take in being considerate of those around me, it got to me.

And, yes, that graphic is from Microsoft's Office Clipart site.


  1. I admire your guts, and appreciate what you did...

  2. I admire your gumption! Too many people get away with such ill-mannered behaviour because we have lowered our standards too far. It's become commonplace to act rudely, be inconsiderate and self-absorbed.

  3. Just made a visit to Japan, there they have good rules about using phones, not in the bus or metro!
    if your called you keep it as silend as possible and call back later
    very nice indeed !

  4. Having confronted people a few times, what I've found is a generally better approach is to request that the folks responsible for the area (say, the receptionist) enforce the posted regulations.

    It tends to generally result in a better disposition, it's someone else's problem, and they're generally empowered to tell the miscreant to get lost (or worse) should it get to that.