4) A Call For Common Sense

January 30, 2011

After all these years without one, I recently started using a cellphone. I’m not exactly sure why (peer pressure maybe?) since I haven’t even bothered to dole out my number to more than a few people. The amount of money spent on these things is astounding. And, it seems as if over night (I know it took longer than that but it does seem as if it happened quite quickly), we went from these independent beings to people shackled down by our joined-at-the-hip phones. Is this a sign of improvement? I don’t think so. I’m not saying that there aren’t a lot of benefits to having a cellphone, or, even that the majority of us are abusing their use. But I do believe a few unspoken guidelines about cellphone conduct could to make this instant and constantly accessible world we’re living in a safer and more respectful place.

And so, in light of a recent happening on the TTC, where a bus driver was caught (by a rider’s iPhone camera no less) sending text messages while driving (uh hello… )  I thought this might be a good time for me to post a few general points on etiquette and cellphone use which, sadly these days, seem to be taking a backseat to safety and courtesy.

List 4 – Think twice about using your mobile device if you are:

  • operating a vehicle. Any vehicle. Not just large, passenger carrying vessels funded, in part, by the very public they are carry. Talking on the phone and/or texting while driving is DANGEROUS should be completely forbidden.
  • in public whist having and extremely personal conversation at an ear splitting volume. I have been shocked, on more than one occasion, by the conversations I’ve been forced to listen to. Trust me, nobody wants to hear your business, or, even cares for that matter, so hush up.
  • in mid-transaction in a store, at the bank or buying tickets for, say, the theatre. If your phone rings and you are in this kind of situation I can 100% guarantee you it will be okay to wait the 30 seconds – 5 minutes it will take to complete the business at hand. Simply (now here’s an idea) return the call once you have stepped away from the clerk’s ear shot. Please do not assume, just because you are dealing with someone being paid to do their job (pretty much anyone who works dealing with the public) that their salary includes listening to people yacking on the phone.
  • interrupting a transaction while there is a LINE behind you. A line means there are people waiting. Don’t forget, momentarily turning off your ringer is a reasonable option when stepping up to do business with someone.
  • sitting in a movie or live theatre. There is absolutely no reason for your phone to ring or for you to be talking while the movie or performance is on (the same rule applies to talking to the person beside you too). If it is necessary for you to be “on call” (your kids are with a sitter, someone close to you is ill, or the multitude of other reasons you might need to stay on cellphone alert) turn off your ringer, set your phone to vibrate and sit close to an aisle. If your phone starts to shimmy you can slip out of the auditorium to take (or, immediately return) the call.
  • having dinner with someone and the call is not pressing.
  • in mid-conversation and it is not an emergency.
  • you are on a crowded bus or streetcar (thankfully here in Toronto cellphones don’t work on the subway) or sitting next to someone (who is reading or not) and it is not an emergency. (While your at it, turn down your music. Sheesh.)
  • in a park, and in ear shot of someone attempting to wash the city off for a few moments by connecting with nature. Note: if you are in a park assume this is what that person a few feet away from you is doing.
  • in an art gallery.
  • in a class (private or otherwise) show some consideration to your teacher and classmates.
  • trying to make a basic decision. You can make a few choices on your own. I would imagine that about 80% of the decisions we make in a day, maybe more, can be accomplished without involving another person. Have faith in yourself. A bit of independence goes a long way.
  • in public but not sure how to chat on the phone without shouting. What’s that all about?
  • in a crowded waiting room. If you must talk on the phone, step outside. If you are unable to do step outside, of course, speak at a reasonable volume.

Like in so many different areas in life a little bit of common sense can go a very (very) long way.




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