Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Cell phone manners gone wild

Yesterday morning I posted that this week is National Etiquette Week and suggested some ways that we can all be more polite and improve the lives of others in the process. By the end of the day, I had witnessed a manners faux pas of the first order - someone who had an entire cell phone conversation in the middle of someone else's presentation.

Yesterday afternoon, I attended a great event organized by the yummy mummy club. The focus of the event was how to use Twitter and it featured a great guest speaker, Scott Stratten from unmarketing. I don't think I have ever heard anyone articulate the power of Twitter in such an engaging and humorous way and if you haven't already heard Scott speak, make a point of it.

At the beginning of his talk, Scott suggested that people leave their cell phones on during his presentation, and, if they have an annoying ring tone, to let it ring through so we can all enjoy it. Most of us took this suggestion in the tongue in cheek nature in which it was intended and turned our ringers to silent. He also encouraged us to tweet about the event while it was happening. Although I don't normally advocate using handheld devices at all during a presentation, I have come to accept that social media events can be an exception.

About halfway through the presentation, we heard our first annoying ringtone but, rather than letting it ring or turning it off, the owner of the cell phone picked it up, said "hello" and proceeded to have a rather loud conversation at his table. While those close to him strained to hear Scott's words and everyone else in the packed room squirmed in their seats, this poor guy continued to chat as if he was the only person in the room. Finally, he looked around, realized that he had become the unwitting focus of attention and got off the call.

In his defense, he claimed to have misunderstood Scott's initial instructions and thought that he had advocated an "anything goes" approach to etiquette. Do you think that, after the glares he received from everyone else in the room, he finally understood?

Nope. About 20 minutes later, he got another call and proceeded to do exactly the same thing.

So there you have it. On the first day of National Etiquette Week, an etiquette first, not once but twice.


  1. I also love the guy that gets on the elevator, looks at you and says, "Hey, how ya doin'?" To which I respond. . only to get a response of "sour-face" and pointing at a cell phone or earphone. If you're on a cell phone and there's even a chance that someone may think you're actually engaging in nicety, please LOOK AT THE WALL when you speak!

  2. There's an unwritten rule that you shouldn't talk on a cell phone in a place where others can't get away from you (e.g. airplanes, elevators, bathroom stalls). Last weekend, I was browsing in Winners and a woman in the store had a 30-minute loud and emotional conversation on her cell phone. Trust me, everyone in the store is now privy to the details of her private life. I kept trying to get away by moving to other departments but for some reason she kept following me...finally I left the store.