Thursday, October 8, 2009

Rant #106: Cell Phones Ringing Off the Hook

Do you hate cell phones as much as I do? Do they ring at the most inappropriate times, and are their users “in their own world” when using them, even when it is in a situation where serious injury can occur as a result of using this gadget?

Well, the latest episode wasn’t life or death, but it shows how ridiculous that people have become in regulating their cell phone usage.

A few weeks ago, during a preview performance of the Broadway play “A Steady Rain,” which starts high-profile actors Daniel Craig and Hugh Jackman, an audience member’s cell phone rang, and then rang again.

Jackman stopped the play, went out of character and asked the audience, “Can somebody get that?” He then paced the stage until the ringing stopped—and he then went back into character as if nothing had happened.

Theatergoers are routinely reminded before a show begins to shut off their cell phones, or to put them on vibrate. However, there are some people who just won’t follow this request—and damn the actors and their fellow audience members when their phones ring.

I have been to movies, to school meetings and to other events where people simply have to interrupt the proceedings so that they can answer the phone. I have been in the supermarket where I have actually had to raise my voice in order to get by a shopper who is on their cell phone and has no idea that I want to pass them as they clog the aisle with their wagon.

At a Yom Kippur service that I attended a few weeks back, the rabbi asked those attending to shut off their phones—and to not put them on vibrate. The rabbi said that she has learned through trial and error that phones on vibrate continue to make discernible noise, and she didn’t want the holiest day on the Jewish calendar interrupted by these sounds.

And while driving, I can tell you numerous times when I had too-close encounters with other drivers who were talking on the phone and/or texting. And the funny thing is that when I give them the horn, they yell at me like I am at fault.

The dumbest thing I have seen with the phone is when people use their phones while on the subway or the railroad. I mean, this is not your personal phone booth, and I really have no interest in your conversation. But when you are in such close proximity to others using phones, you become part of the interchange between the one with the phone and the one on the other end, whether you like it or not. It’s eavesdropping even when you don’t intend to eavesdrop.

Sure, I have a phone, but it doesn’t have the gizmos and gadgets attached to it like most phones do. It is for calling, nothing else, and I only use it when necessary. In fact, I don’t even know the last time I used my phone. Heck, I don’t even know the phone number by heart.

Phones got out of hand when manufacturers added all the gizmos and gadgets to them. If they were just phones, I don't think we would have the rate of misuse that we have now with these phones.

While I don’t back any government regulation when it comes to these phones, I think that personal common sense is necessary when using them. If you were in a conversation with someone, wouldn’t you consider it bad manners to be interrupted by a phone call?

And why do you want to talk on the phone when you have spent God knows how much for a Broadway theater ticket?

Maybe these people have money to burn. I know that I don’t. And I also don’t have much patience for people who think that the phone is somehow part of their body.

And those phones that fit on your ear—I guess everyone wants to be Uhura from "Star Trek"—everyone but me. I long for the days when phones were at home and in phone booths and that was about it.

In New York, Sen. Charles Schumer has sponsored legislation that would require states to pass laws banning texting while driving. If states do not comply, they lose 25 percent of their federal highway funding. Texting is already banned in many places in this country, but people still do it anyway. Others have proposed that automakers come up with cars that do not allow phones to be used at all while the car is moving.

Our worldwide fascination with these phones have become obsessions, and that is not a good call on whatever end of the line you are on. And a solution is needed, and let's put that on quick-dial.


  1. I only use my cell phone for emergencies. I keep it turned off. If someone needs to get a hold of me they have to leave a message.

  2. I have a pay as you go phone, and I haven't made a call on it in about two months or so. I have more than 800 minutes stored on it, too. Again, I don't even know my number by heart. I just have it to have it, for emergencies only.

  3. Personally I hate cell phones. For some bizarre reason I have talked myself into believing that they will give those who use them brain cancer since the tech they use are similar to police radar guns that have given testicular cancer to cops who often rested them in their laps. I also love being off the grid for the most part. I have an answering machine at home and I don't think anything will ever be so urgent that it requires my immediate attention.

  4. I see that Governor Ah-nold of California is now quite angry at his wife, Maria Shriver, because she was caught several times using her cell phone while driving. 99 and 9/10 percent of phone calls are not emergency ones, so who was she talking to--her hairdresser? Her lawyer? A Kennedy relative? Like you said, I think whatever the call was for could have waited, and it has made her husband look like a complete idiot.



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