If You are On the Phone, You’re Not in Line   4 comments

I just picked up lunch. I saw two (2!) people who had a phone to their ear when talking to a cashier. At least one was trying to mime/mouth out his order.

Let me say this: that is downright rude. First, it’s typical “whoever I’m on the phone with is more important than you” complaint about talking on a cell phone. If you have to interact with someone around you, not being on the phone is polite. Further, the pantomimes and split conversations slows down the line–it’s rude to the people behind you.

The line was long–it was downtown, lunch time, and a game day. It seems reasonable that someone might be on the phone while in line. However, when you’re next in line, how hard is it to say “let me call you back,” or even “let me put you on hold for a minute.”

This should apply to the whole process. I was in Starbucks, when someone was on the phone when placing a complicated order. The barista went to work on his drink, then called out for him. It took her three or four tries, because he wasn’t paying attention. Instead, he was engrossed in his conversation.

As a SmartPhone user, I know I have some bad habits around this. I’ve been trying to get better, for instance, about not fidgeting with it after eating while the others finish their meal (I was getting really bad about that, and setting a bad example for my daughter). While it is less invasive than a full on conversation, you should still put the phone away while placing an order.

Oh–you’re on the phone because you are getting an order for a friend. Get the order before talking to the cashier. It’s not rocket science.

(I know some folks can only eat lunch by picking it up while on a “read only” conference call. Typically, though, they are able to manage this better than what I witnessed today (taking their phone off their ear, or having it on mute and still being reasonably engaged in the transaction). I do sincerely understand that situation.)


Posted 2010-09-16 by Mr. Guilt in rant

4 responses to “If You are On the Phone, You’re Not in Line

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  1. I totally agree! It is just plain rude. My only exception is If I receive a call from my child while at the cashier. I apologize to the cashier and tell my child I will call them right back. That is my only exception, because my children do not know what to do if they cannot get me on the phone.

    I have a situation that is really bothering me but I do not know what to say to the mother of the girl. My youngest daughter is 11. Her friend got a cell phone last year. The last time we had her to spend the night, she constantly took calls from other friends (rude and it made my daughter feel inadequate, as she has no phone and is not receiving all of these calls). The same friend will text constantly. My daughter told me that I put them to bed one night and that her friend texted until midnight.

    I do not want to alienate the family but I am unsure as to whether to talk to the girl when she comes and tell her “our policy” for cell phones, or whether I should talk to the mom and risk offending her. What do you think?

    Freedom Smith
    • I’m not an expert on this (other than to simply rant to the Internet :) ). I’ll give my $0.02, as an internet ranter and parent:

      One day, it is likely my daughter, who will be six this fall, will get a cell phone. Prior to her receiving it, we will talk about rules. We’ll discuss things like “always answer” situations (she always answers mom and dad, or call back within ten minutes), as well as contrast mom and dad’s use (which includes, unfortunately, stepping away from the supper table to take a work call) with hers (which does not have such an obligation).

      One conversation we will have is courtesy. In short: if she is visiting someone, she needs to be there for that person. Not taking calls from everyone else, or texting, unless the other person is involved (coordinating meeting for a movie).

      If my child was engaging in such behavior as you describe, I would hope that the other parent would approach me and let me know what’s going on. I would appreciate that this was brought to my attention, and I would apologize. My first attempt to fix this would be, prior to the next sleep-over, to revisit the “be with the people you are with” conversation. If further correction were needed, a more direct discussion (“When going over to Jenny’s, phone is off unless your mother or I call”) would be appropriate.

      I have to say this: having a child often forces me to look at my own behavior. How often am I fidgeting with my phone when I should be enjoying time with friends.*

      *Of course, since I have many friends via social media, fidgeting with phones is part of the fun (tweeting “at a happy hour with…”).

  2. The courtesy angle is the big one. I won’t even talk to people while I’m in a store. If I take a call while in Target, for example, I will go somewhere where I’m not going to bother too many people and talk to the person on the other end with my full attention.

    I do this because:
    1. I don’t like being subjected to other people’s phone conversations.
    2. I don’t like talking on the phone to someone who is distracted with whatever else they are doing.

    So I never want to be the person who would be pissing me off. :-)

  3. My solution was to never use my cell phone in public places. But that’s not much sacrifice considering how much I despise talking on the phone!

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