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Enough Already!!

January 2, 2010

We see them everywhere.  In cars, in line at the grocery store, in restaurants, on the street, just about anyplace people exist.  Talking, or texting, or playing games, or looking for whatever, people are on their cell phones no matter where you look.

If you have ever been to the Claremont in Berkeley you know the view from the restaurant is incredible.  We had a booth where we both could face the window and could see Oakland, the Bay Bridge, the San Francisco skyline, the Golden Gate, Alcatraz, all the way north to Tiburon in one sweeping panorama.  There was a table in front of us along the window but our vantage point was better as we did not have to turn to look out.  The couple sitting at the window table had just ordered their meal and as the waiter left the woman pulled out her cell phone and began texting.  She texted until the salad came, ate, then went back to texting.  The entrée came, she ate and then started texting again.  The man, one assumes her husband, sat not saying a word.  After the dessert she continued to text and as he finished his coffee and paid the bill he pulled out his cell and began to text.   They then both got up and left, I wondered if he texted her and said it is time to go.  The whole time they, maybe, verbally exchanged ten words and I never noticed either of them looking out at the view.

Move forward a couple  of weeks and I am in the Union Bank in Fremont.  Now if you have never been to this particular branch they are a little paranoid, (maybe others are like this but I have only been to this one).  To enter the bank you have to wait for a green light at the door, once you step inside (one person at a time) and the door shuts you find yourself in an enclosure where you walk thru a metal detector to another door, and when you again get a green light you can open that door and enter the bank.  Once you’re in line to see a teller the first thing you notice are several signs that say, “please refrain from using cell phones in the bank out of respect for other customers”.  A nice polite way of saying “hey, dumb shit, we don’t need to hear you yakking on the phone”.    So as I am standing there a cell phone rings and the guy behind me answers and begins to explain to whomever that he is in the bank and then proceeds to talk up until it is his turn to go to the teller.

Maybe the worst was New Year’s Eve.  Going out for a nice dinner at a local steakhouse and as we enter to let the hostess know we have arrived we are confronted with two guys at the bar on cell phones texting away.  We find out later they are together but obviously did not have enough to talk about to each other.  After we had been seated a couple come in and are seated at a nearby table.  At first it looked like they were a  couple out for a nice dinner, she was a little large and he reminded me of Italian Mafia but they seemed happy.  Soon after settling in and having had their salads brought out he gets on his cell and has this lengthy conversation with somebody, stuffing his face in between words and ignoring his date.

I know we have all had the experience of standing near someone in a public place and they begin talking. At first we think they are talking to us but then we notice the attachment sticking in their ear and we realize they are on bluetooth and talking to someone else.  We have all been in a room where someone gets on a cell phone and talks so loud the whole room is privy to the fact that this person is so fricking important we all need to hear about their life.  We have all been frustrated waiting in a line for our turn at the counter while the person in front of us is on a cell talking and slowing down the process by putting up a finger and telling the clerk to hang on one second.

There are laws against driving while on a cell, unless it is hands free.  We all sit through the same announcement at movie theaters about silencing our phones.  We have all cast dirty looks to people talking too loud.  There has even been some indication cell phones add to brain cancer (don’t get your hopes up, look how little that threat stopped smokers).  But in spite of all that is polite and respectful, there is always someone who feels they are more important than those in earshot.

Is there a solution?  While I would love to grab someones cell out of their  hand and stomp on it, that isn’t practical.  We could all buy cell phone blockers except they are illegal in the U.S. (online for $27.08 and free shipping).  So what can we do.

Maybe all we can do is speak up when we can, glare intensely at the violators, and try to make sure we aren’t the ones invading other people’s space with obnoxious cell phone usage!!

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