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Cell Phone Etiquette in the Oughts (’00s)


Cell phones are ubiquitous and they're here to stay, though they'll probably be imbedded in our skulls eventually. There have been many etiquette guidelines written, but few people seem to be reading them. We're going to make this easy. And please, let's self-regulate before the phone control liberals create a national registry and take away our right to carry a concealed communications device.

It's simple: Treat cell phone usage just like smoking cigarettes in public. (Or if you like, belching or flatus production in public.)

Our social consciousness has finally been raised regarding smoking etiquette. Let's not take as long to do the same for cell phones. You wouldn't blow smoke in someone's face; therefore, don't blow your cell phone conversation in someone's face. You wouldn't light up while you're in line at the bank; likewise, don't cell phone there either. YOU think your conversations are enlightening, cerebral, and important, but the rest of us don't. Old-fashioned telephone booths had a secondary purpose besides giving you privacy–they also shielded us from your blathering.

Now that distance conversations can take place anywhere you can get a signal, society is in more dire need of a cell phone courtesy in-service training session than any white man in history. Furthermore, these manners should be taught early to children, along with not holding their fork overhand, not putting their after-dinner cigarette out on the plate, replacing the roll of toilet tissue when they finish it, not putting their shod feet on the furniture, and saying please and thank you. If you're not teaching these things, we pity the poor fool that marries your kid.


Turn off your cell phone (or at least the ringer):
– in court
– at the ballet
– in church, synagogue, mosque, or NRA services
– in drivers retraining school

Only answer your cell phone if absolutely necessary:
– at your Co-dependents Anonymous meeting
– during your social worker's surprise visit
– while in line at the adult bookstore
– when you're already talking on a land line (you popular person, you)
– at any service window where you might interact with a fellow bipedal primate

If a true emergency call comes in during these or similar situations, then (and only then) quietly and apologetically excuse yourself and take or return the call in private. Your fellow ditto-heads will wait. Surprisingly, you are not that damned important. All other calls can be returned later.

If your cell phone rings or you must place a call in any other scenario not mentioned above, and there are others within earshot, excuse yourself and go talk in private. This will REALLY impress 'em. We don't want to hear your conversation–for real. The one exception here is if the call concerns the close friends, family members, or cellmates that you're with at the time. The other one exception is: If it's your wife's (or girlfriend's) "work" calling, all etiquette rules are suspended.

You may ultimately need to consider a few other exceptions to these guidelines. Treat these like the possible exceptions you might make to the protocol involved in meeting the Prince Of Wales. You wouldn't high-five Charles no matter how friendly he was–and you shouldn't talk on your cell phone at dinner in a restaurant no matter how important you think you are.

Keep this analogy in mind: Wherever you wouldn't smoke (or belch or intentionally produce flatulence), you shouldn't talk on a cell phone unless it's a true emergency. Remember, only you can prevent a new generation of rude citizens–and forest fires. Teach (and use) good manners.