Attack of the 5 mghz Cell Phone

August 9, 2011

What is proper cell phone etiquette?

If you have to ask you probably do not know. I once rode a crosstown bus talking to my sister in what I assumed was a low voice. Upset I spent most of the ride complaining about people dragging me down. When I got off on the west side several people commented on how rude I had been including an old genteel grandpa who told me I had ruined his ride. I mumbled to my sister, and I thought I was being a quiet. A middle aged black woman said, “it wasn’t.” Already depressed, I sunk lower upon realizing the entire bus was privy to my bitch session.

It’s New York, and I had to have been less intrusive than a panhandler.

One time I asked the only other person at the nail salon if she would mind if I used my phone. She didn’t, until I finished the first call, made the second call to recount the first, and then a third. Then she asked if I’d keep it down. Given how polite she was, and that I had asked initially, I did not mind.

A study discovered that people are more frustrated by cell phone users speaking in the same decibel as a two people sitting next to each other. In fact, when people can hear both sides of the conversation, they have an infinitely higher volume tolerance.

I’m trying to remember if I have recently asked a stranger to speak elsewhere or lower their voice although I have no trouble telling family members to continue a call out of my ear shot. Somewhere I came across the suggestion of repeating everything a person is saying on the phone.

“The plumber cannot come until 10.”
“She goes to work at 9.”
and so forth, until the cell phone user notices the repeater, who then can say if you didn’t want me to know everything why are speaking so loudly.

I’m sitting in a coffee shop now, procrastinating, trying to stay awake after taking my kids to the zoo this morning, My sister called me twice. I wanted to talk to her especially after an emotional conversation this morning where my kids heard me curse. I mostly listened and tried to speak as softly as possible, so softly I barely heard my own voice. I’d have gone outside, leaving my computer and so forth unattended if it were not for the pouring rain. No one shot me dirty looks and I tried to keep the conversation as short as possible.

As I write this my phone is ringing now from my business partner. I know he talks excessively and I’m sure the call can wait. I’m letting it go to voicemail.