Dear LAP,

Please clue me in on the correct behavior. I was standing in line at our local upscale grocery store one day recently.

Right behind me the gal's cell phone rang. She answered it and started talking loudly about her manicure appointments. The rest of us un-manicured people just stood there shifting our weight and trying to be patient while she held up the line, too busy talking to put her items on the belt. Suddenly the gal says, in a VERY loud voice “Could everyone be quiet? I can't hear the person who called me!” I raised my arm to deck her but my teenage daughter grabbed me because she was afraid I would embarrass her. What should I have done? (I did ground my daughter for grabbing my arm but I think she snuck out that night anyway.) 


Meri (in Portland)

Dear Meri,

I think singing something like The Star Spangled Banner or 99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall in a loud voice might have inspired the others in line to join in and drown her out. Of course your daughter would probably never go shopping with you again, but there could be a benefit to that if she is a teenager. Oh – you asked about correct behavior – perhaps tapping the talker lightly on the shoulder and asking her to step out of line until she finished her call? Think that would have worked? No? Maybe you could have assisted her in putting her items on the belt and adding yours as well – if she was so engrossed in the call perhaps she wouldn't have noticed if she kindly paid for yours. A thousand things come to mind but none of them fit the category of “correct behavior.”  

Can of worms: opened. What is it about other people's cell phones that annoys most of us so much? For me I guess it's the ego aspect. Who is sooo important that someone must take any call or text at any moment? Face it, if someone is that important, there is someone standing nearby to inform them that they're needed immediately. I especially am amused by people who sit alone at a bar and talk incessantly on their cell phones – couldn't they get a date or find a friend with whom to sit? Do you think they are really talking to a person, or a call center in India where no one has a clue what they're saying anyway? And why do they have to speak twice as loudly as anyone who is having a real conversation?

You can google “cell phone etiquette on the internet” and be deluged with information. Road and Travel Magazine had an article entitled: The Basic Rules of Cellphone Etiquette; Top 10 Cell Phone Etiquette Rules People Still Break written by Mobilecomandos; essortment – Top 10 cell phone etiquette tips; Microsoft Small Business Center has information, and the list goes on and on. (Are any of you out there amazed that there is so much etiquette involved in just cell phone usage???)

They discuss cell phone rage – cell phone rage? Come on! But it's true. One day I was on Bay Street and noticed a commotion in front of the book store where they have two lovely rocking chairs, usually occupied by men waiting for their women while they are shopping. This day, one of the two men jumped out of his chair and hit the other man in the face – why? Because the first thought the second was rude to be sitting there talking on the phone! The poor guy was just trying to find out when his wife was going to finish shopping because he needed to find a bathroom. Blood was drawn, the police arrived and stitches were sewn. 


Well now, there's a thought – maybe bathroom “etiquette” and cell phone “etiquette” should have more in common, like privacy.