Friday, July 23, 2010
Using Cell Phones in Public: Or Why a Jury of My Peers Would Never Convict Me
By: Debbie Kaufman
Lake Cabin Writing Retreat. Isolation and the freedom to work like a fiend possessed.
Wow, just writing those words puts the scene back in my head. Myself at a table on a screened-in porch, ceiling fans augmenting the breeze off the lake. The calm of the water’s surface broken by the occasional ripples of fish eating the insects that landed. The lovely white egret standing on the end of the dock. The lack of response from my computer when I try to access the internet…
Wait, that’s a good thing, right? No internet to play on when I should be writing like a madwoman. It’s actually great unless you are email addicted like me, and you don’t own a Crackberry. Although, in all fairness, I am the guest blog coordinator for www.petitfoursandhottamales.com I manage almost all the blog guests, and authors, editors, and agents wonder when you don’t get back to them for several days.
But, in all truthfulness, I am an email junky. And there was a little research I wanted to do for my current WIP.
So, off I went to civilization with my hostess, Susan May, and my laptop in hand. We no sooner ensconced ourselves in a back booth and fired up our laptops, than the table behind us – one of MANY free tables – was suddenly occupied by a frantic gentleman who decides to deal with one of life’s little crisis moments via his cell phone.
Out loud. Very loud.
Using the free Wi-Fi at McDonald’s suddenly cost more than my small diet drink. A lot more.
Forget everything you ever heard about identity theft. Really. There’s no need for hackers to go to lots of trouble. In this case, all the potential thief needed to do was to sit anywhere within a fifty mile radius of this guy (okay, slight exaggeration) and they would know everything they needed to steal his identity.
Not only did I get to hear him repeat the saga of how his truck door had been hit by “someone who just run off” as he got bounced from extension to extension at his insurance company, but I was also treated to all of his personal information.
No, I take that back. I don’t think I actually heard his momma’s maiden name.
It used to be that you couldn’t tell Bluetooth from crazy as people walked around having quiet conversations with themselves in public places. Now, it seems, all restraint is gone.
Susan and I struggled valiantly not to react to this public display of the man’s life. Of course, Susan had her back to him, so she had it a little easier.
No one but me could see her face.
If you knew Susan, you’d applaud her self-control. She managed not to go smack the poor guy upside the head. Me? I wanted to use his cell phone to do it.
I'm convinced that a jury of my peers would never have convicted me. Especially if those peers had been the other folks sitting in McDonalds that day.
Later, we commiserated on how cell phones have instituted a whole new definition of bad manners, where people talk on them when they shouldn’t, and how we often get to hear more of people’s lives than we’d ever wanted. My conclusion: Forget obsessing about your Facebook privacy settings, people. Stop telling the whole world your business when you’re on a personal call. In Public.
Unfortunately, this wasn’t the worst case of public display of someone’s life on a cell phone; formerly know as TMI, but now PLDD (Public Life Display Disorder) I’ve ever heard.
The absolute worst was the guy in a Hallmark store selecting a greeting card while he loudly announced to his caller that he “Didn’t touch that little girl, no matter what her lying momma says.” I’ll spare you the rest of the conversation. Suffice to say that the clerk would have left WITH the rest of her customers if she could have.
What about you? Do you have a PLDD story to tell about someone’s inappropriate cell phone conversation? Or maybe it was just their timing of talking on the phone? Come on, vent. You know you want to!
So, fire away. And remember your manners next time you’re on the phone in a public location.