Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Loose Lips Sink Ships...or Trains

Dear Incessant Cell Phone User:

I would recognize your voice anywhere. After all, I had to listen to it for five hours straight on the train yesterday. You probably didn’t notice me at all. I tend to keep a low profile on train trips and use them as a time to relax and unwind. But I noticed you. How could I not? You kept me and several other passengers entertained with your non-stop cell phone conversations. I guess you didn’t hear the announcement suggesting passengers keep cell phones on vibrate for the comfort of other guests. I guess it didn’t occur to you that perhaps your captive audience would have preferred to pass the time without the soundtrack of your business dealings.

I know what you do for a living. I know all about your company. I know what clients you represent, what their annual revenues are, which ones are gearing up for an IPO and who is currently working a name change through the legal system. I know who you called to pitch new business and I heard your tips for dealing with the SEC. I know your full name, how to spell it, your phone number and your e-mail address. We all heard when you spelled it out for that guy you were talking to about funding.

Miss Manners likes to say “polite people don’t hear things they’re not supposed to hear” and she’s right. I’m not a nosy person and, had I not been traveling alone, chances are I wouldn’t have paid so much attention to your conversations. But you were right behind me, I was by myself, my iPOD battery was dead and I had only a book to keep me company. You were speaking so loudly that I couldn’t help but overhear.

I must say, I admire your tenacity. You worked hard on that train trip. You used up every single minute working that phone. You obviously work very hard for your clients and they are lucky to have you as their representative.

But, in case you’ve forgotten, let me just take a moment to remind you of the basics of cell phone etiquette.
- One should try to refrain from using a cell phone in a place where others cannot escape from you ( a speeding train qualifies)
- One should try to refrain from using a cell phone within 10 feet of another person
- One should try to refrain from disclosing sensitive information on a crowded train

Best of luck with your future endeavours.

p.s. Hope things work out with the boat.


  1. Dear Louise,
    Can you please purchase billboard space and advertise your post for all to read? Let me share my similar Via story with you - woman on cellphone for the entire trip to Ottawa - loud! I know her name, employer, boss' name and managerial style, position, annual salary, weight loss issues, age, current weight, dating troubles (in explicit detail), bedroom stories and how she used to have financial issues. None of these topics is a) any of my business or b) necessary to talk about at elevated levels on a full train. And, as you said, I was not being nosy, I merely could not possibly avoid hearing matter how hard I tried.
    In summary, I very much enjoyed, and unfortunately relate to, your points in this post. Please keep spreading the rules of etiquette. :)

  2. Thanks for the kind words Anna and good to know I'm not alone. If only the etiquette offenders would read the blog...but they never do sadly. Perhaps VIA could hand out little etiquette instruction cards before trips. I may just suggest that to them.