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Reader Letters

A Major Hangup

Dear TMN,

I enjoyed Lauren Frey’s article on cell phones. I must admit that stuck in Cambridge, dealing with Harvard students and their ilk jabbing away while I am in the middle of another monotonous work day, does lead to me going Michael Douglas in Falling Down on them.

I guess the thing about the rise of the cell phone as necessity is that it also corresponded with the death of all our leading etiquette columnists, the lack of a single authority on how to deal with these properly.

When people are jabbering on cell phones in public, how important is the call that they’re taking? One day I was in Cardullo’s, a famously tiny fancy Euro food place, and this young co-ed was following me around talking on her phone. She got behind me in line. Finally, I snapped “We are in a public place. Do we have to hear your conversation?” I was a little shocked that I said that aloud. The women ahead of me in line looked at me, but offered no support. The girl on the phone kept talking. Finally, the woman in front of me muttered some rude little thing about this girl within my earshot. I smiled. The girl on the phone did manage to get off when she reached the cashier. It was a tiny victory.

Ask anyone who’s done their time as a coffee shop worker, and they know of the cell phone horror that’s sweeping the nation. I wasn’t allowed to tell people to shut off their phones, but I was openly rude to them. It was just shoddy interaction on their parts. One man on a phone asked for some lattes. I made them, and gave them to him, and then he insisted that his “large” was actually a “small.” Finally I was like, “Hell no, dude, you were on your phone while ordering,” and he shut up. What makes a cell phone call so important?

I don’t even want to get into horror stories amongst my 24-year-old peers, but let’s just say that fun car trips usually end up with someone on the phone at some point. It’s awful. And I wasn’t always so zealously against it. Once I was the asshole in the library, and I didn’t realize the error of my ways until a girl said “You gotta be kidding me.” Then I got off the phone, apologized, and thanked her.

It’s a rich, fertile topic. I guess I feel like people should start speaking up against cell phones because it’s out of control. Hopefully nobody stabs me in the foot.

Thanks for the article!

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