Glued to the phone

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This is an editorial that shouldn’t have to be written. It’s on a topic that we all should have learned from our parents, back when we were learning other common courtesies like, “don’t belch at the table” and “don’t leave your underwear on the couch.”

It’s about having respect for other people, and about common courtesy in the electronic age.

Perhaps it just hasn’t occurred to people, caught up in their own personal electronic bubbles. But the entire world does not hinge on every byte of text you might be in the process of receiving.

We hate to have to point this out, but your time isn’t more valuable than everyone else’s.

If, for example, you are in the lineup for breakfast at a mall restaurant, when it’s your turn to place your order, you should probably place it, rather than keep talking on your cellphone, treating each request for information from the counter staff like it was an imposition. If you can’t order right now, well, feel free to step out of the line until you can order. Everyone else should not have to wait until you finish your over-loud discussion about the price of bathroom fixtures.

If you are taking a call, it’s probably better to step out of the way and stand still, instead of meandering aimlessly, eyes glazed with that peculiar electronic stare, stepping into people’s way while your ship travels with no one keeping watch on the bridge.

If you are crossing at the crosswalk, multi-tasking while drivers wait for you to make your way safely to the other side, it is impolite to stop dead in the middle of the crosswalk while you make a particularly emphatic point on your cellphone to whoever it is you are talking to.

If you are in the grocery store, pushing your cart through the narrow gap between hamburger and the picnic pork shoulder, it is not only an inconvenience but an imposition when you decide to stop all traffic as you electronically discuss the things that should or should not have made their way onto the grocery list.

Equally, forcing a cash register timeout because you’re taking some critical call that “Nancy’s dog is so sick” — heaven knows no one behind you in line has anywhere they have to be or anything they have to do — is as rude as deliberately blocking a doorway.

And for God’s sake, please limit discussion of prolapsed organs/tumours/surgeries/sex practices and/or private piercings to the comfort and privacy of your own home. It’s delightful that you want to share your experience of third-degree heat-rash thigh chafing, but perhaps you could wait for someone to express interest first?

Let’s not get started on those who combine their cellphones with driving — that’s the point where ignorance becomes criminal.

To put it simply, cellphones are everywhere. The fact that you have one does not make you an on-call heart surgeon or a pilot in the tower, talking down a jetliner where an amateur is in the cockpit and both pilots have keeled over dead.

Take the call if you must — but don’t think it gives you the right to determine your time means more than anyone else’s.

Get over yourself. None of us is that important.

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Recent comments

  • RJ
    September 03, 2014 - 14:50

    Right on! It's not just people on cell phones that hold things up. You see it at Costco, Wal Mart, and the grocery store - huge gatherings of people blocking a full aisle just so they can have a conversation. Then, God forbid you interrupt them by saying "excuse me" or crash through them with your cart. Death stares galore. People need to get over themselves in general. You are not the only human in this world and you are no better than the next. It's not only young people who have no respect these days. Those who are more than old enough, and likely do enough complaining about the "young ones" are also at fault. It's hard to have respect for the elderly when some of them don't have respect for others as it is. The same people who once taught their children those common courtesies often forget to put them into play themselves. Sadly, the big city mentality is upon us.

    • Jay
      September 03, 2014 - 21:56

      People seem to loose all awareness when they go into Costco, I totally agree about the carts and the chatting in the middle of the aisles, its infuriating. They forget they are there to shop and spend more time socializing.

  • Dolf
    September 03, 2014 - 11:25

    Man, oh man! didn't I see just this week two of the incidents you describe and it's only Wednesday. And last week there was the ignorant clown conversing with someone on his phone while doing his banking, effectively holding up the waiting line patrons. It's the kind of stuff that creates road rage and we know where that can lead. I agree with the author of this piece, get the hell over yourselves!

  • Sheila
    September 03, 2014 - 07:41

    If I am in a cash line and the person being serve starts ignoring the cashier I say 'Then I guess I am next to the cashier please void his/her sale at once". If my cart is being blocked by a rude person/s I say excuse me twice and on the third try I push my cart past the person, if it hits them so what. I am tired of people like the ones you describe so I fight back. A cashier once said but I am serving somebody and I said no you are not the person choose not to be served. Check me out now or get the Manager, suddenly the person on the phone woke up and said I have to go somebody is trying to cut in front of me and I said damn straight I am. Imagine if we all stood up for our rights, whatever would the woman chatting loudly about her last date and the great sex do when a store full of people said "Wow you had sex. imagine."