Cell phone use in public places. I have struggled with this topic for months trying to decide what needs to be said. I’m still not sure.

If there were a cell phone etiquette book that came with each phone, it would be much easier to decide when and how to use your phone in public. It seems that rules of polite behavior most of us were raised with do not apply to cell phones.

No doubt there are times when answering and talking on a cell phone in public is unavoidable. In my previous job I was required to carry one 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The good news was that since we were a morning newspaper, most of the problems that required my input happened in the middle of the night.

Nowadays, as publisher here, I continue to keep my cell phone with me most of the time. However, I have found it best to keep the ring set to “vibrate” at all times. Also, the phone has voice mail and caller ID. I can see who’s calling and make a decision as to whether the call might need immediate attention. After all, business is business.

The problem is folks who seem to have no clue how their rings and conversations affect those around them.

Let’s start with the rings. Now, you might love the song “Achy Breaky Heart.” However, it makes me nauseous. So, when we are in line at the grocery and your cell phone breaks into a verse of this noxious song at a volume level that would do a teenager’s car stereo justice, I find that a bit over the top.

I know that many people find this customized ring thing cute and when 10 cell phones are ringing all at once, I guess it helps you decide if yours is one of them … but, really, is that necessary?

It still amazes me the number of people who are so important they don’t turn their ringers off in church or movies. It has become funny when one goes off in the middle of the pastor’s sermon. Well, it is funny to me. I don’t think he sees the humor.

Twila and I watched one young lady talk on her cell phone with family or friends through an entire meal. I don’t know if it bothered them or not, but I remember thinking if they had depended on her to help liven up the dinner conversation, they were out of luck.

Now we have to deal with these walkie talkie cell phones. Twila and I were eating at a local restaurant the other day when I kept hearing this loud beep. The general conversations around us prevented me from picking out who belonged to this obnoxious noise. However, it went on and on and on. Finally, this gentleman finished his meal and headed to the counter to pay … still talking on his beeping cell phone. It was funny watching many of the diners’ faces as this fellow walked by carrying on his less-than-private conversation .

And I can see another, and potentially worse, issue approaching. You have probably heard about the new Apple iPod that plays music videos, certain TV shows and your own home movies. I can’t wait until every table has a different TV show playing at the same time. When that happens we’ll look back to the cell phone problems and think, “Ya know, that really wasn’t that bad.”

Ain’t technology wonderful?

Tim Hurst can be contacted at thurst@glasgowdailytimes.com or (270) 678-5171, Ext. 241.

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