Etiquette, common sense, courtesy–all terms we recognize, and we tend to harp on other people when they don’t extend them to us. But do we, in fact, realize our own role in extending appropriate gestures to our fellow man?
Last week I sat in a meeting in a church basement at which about 70 people were present. Though it could hold twice as many people, the room has the sort of acoustics that make it possible, when things are generally quiet (as in when the chairman of the meeting was speaking), to hear from one side of the room, a conversation on the other side of the room. The meeting was a business meeting, and different people were standing up to give reports, new ideas were being shared, etc.
When the first cell phone rang and everyone heard it, you’d think most people would be reminded to turn their respective phones on vibrate, to save others the annoyance and themselves the embarassment. I know I was (yes, look at me, goody-two-shoes). But au contraire, mes amis! Likely, others were motivated the same way I was (or they haven’t caught the digital technology bug yet) but not all.
In fact, apparently some people aren’t embarrassed at all when their cell phones go off in a room where everyone can hear everything, and they think nothing of it. Or when their watches go off for a full minute at 9:45 pm. Daily BM reminder?? Not one, not two, not three, but closer to six cell phones rang during that meeting, plus the watch alarm.
Did these people end the calls or shut off their phones? No, my friends. Well, I guess some did.
One man, who was sitting in the front row, no less, couldn’t find his ringing phone for quite some time, giving some of us the pleasure of grooving to “Hello, Moto!” When he found it, he promptly answered it. I do credit him with keeping his conversation short and sweet.
A woman got up to leave the room when her phone rang, but didn’t wait ’til she got outside the room to greet her caller. We all heard the inquisitive, “hello?”
Another woman in the back row carried on a discreet conversation that was quite short, but still audible. As, of course, was the ringing of her phone.
However, the cake was taken by a final woman, who answered her ringing cell phone in what sounded to me like a resounding voice. She spoke at first as if she didn’t know who she was talking to, then said something like, “No, she’s at the house”. We all looked at the man giving the report as if he was wondering if “she” was at the house or not. Said woman continued on to give the phone number of “the house” twice, and of course exchanged some pleasantries before hanging up. The speaker did his best to carry on, but his train of thought was interrupted at least twice, and I definitely know I missed what he said during those few moments.
Up until then, I had never really understood why people freaked out about cell phone etiquette. Now, I’d like to steal that cute and annoying animation they have at the movies that reminds people to turn their cell phones on vibrate, burn it onto a CD, and play it at the beginning of all meetings I attend.
Seriously, people. This may be a small town, but ignorance in this case does not mean bliss for those around you. If I’m not there with my lovely video presentation, let the first phone that goes off remind you: you’ve got the “silent” setting for a reason. I’m available to give tutorials.