We are still early enough in the proliferation of cell phones that people have not learned and developed judgment and discipline in their public use. I occasionally find this irksome, but struggle to find a way to stop it. Stephen Karlson at Cold Spring Shops has some useful recommendations that he has gathered from around the Internet.
I particularly like the cards that he linked to from Annie at Going Underground for use on the London tube (although I have to say I’ve never had particular annoyance with cell phones on the Tube). But the one that hits the closest to home with me is the suggestion from Ideoblog:
Here’s my plan: do what you can to piece together the details of the conversation. Then ask the speaker some questions to fill in the blanks. If the speaker is annoyed, flustered and suddenly reticent, point out that you’re curious enough to turn to Google for help with the rest. It would be nice if you could figure out your seatmate’s name, from the conversation, briefcase, laptop screen, or whatever.
A while back (I’m being deliberately vague) I was in the O’Hare Admirals Club at about 5:45 AM, and it was dark and hushed, as you’d expect for that hour, except for one gentleman who was on the phone. He was working on a particular transaction about which I actually knew something because it was in the electric utility industry. I could tell who he worked for, who he was talking to, and all sorts of details that I’m sure the board of the company in question would not be happy to have potentially figured out in public.
I’m sure the guy looked at me and thought that the short blonde with the tall boots and the messenger bag who looks younger than she is doesn’t know squat about goings-on in the oh-so-boring electric utility industry. That’s a very dangerous assumption …
But this is the first time I’ve mentioned it, although I was sorely tempted to go over and tell him what I do for a living and how much I was able to infer from his side of the conversation.