In this morning’s New York Times, Sam Lubell writes about cell phone jammers that can be used in environments where one doesn’t want to hear cell phones ringing. There’s some question on the future legality of the devices, which of course means you can find them on eBay.
I’m a bit concerned about the concept of jamming without notice, though I have to admit there are places I’d love to have the option of avoiding the incoming ring or discontinuing the conversation:
When at the table in a restaurant. I sat across from a woman whose phone rang seven times during our meal. I’m a very mellow person, and am willing to grant one freebie ring. If it rings a second time, I’ll wave as that person works their way to the door, on the way to the hospital, because it’s obviously an emergency. By the fourth ring, I was dropping inaudible, but uncharacteristic F-bombs. By ring six, I was having a John Belushi fantasy about silencing her phone with a hammer. The woman’s date was visibly upset, too, eventually getting up and walking out on her. Not that she noticed.
Public restrooms.(guest commentary from Lisa)
So when did it become acceptable to use a cell phone in a public restroom? Apparently this week, judging by several encounters of the crass kind. “Can you hear me flush? Can you hear me flush?” If people want to converse from their own bathroom, that is their choice (or maybe their friend’s choice).
But using a cell phone in a public restroom is an INVASION OF PRIVACY. Alexander Graham Bell had no idea. But David Byrne did. I hate people when they’re not polite.
Gymnasiums. When I’m not outside, I work out at a hole-in-the-strip-mall club. It sees its share of soccer parents. Usually once or twice during my workout, someone’s cell phone will ring. If they’re on the butt cheek enhancersstair steppers or treadmills, they’ll keep doing what they’re doing, gabbing away. One the one hand, their phone isn’t going to disturb me over the other random noises. On the other hand, that they’re able to hold a conversation just illustrates that they are not working out very hard. (And, hey, the TVs with the Ellen DeGeneres show/ESPN are muted.)
Classes. I was working on my MBA a couple of years ago in the UW “executive” program, whose twist is one attends classes full time while also working full-time. Classes were held alternating Fridays and Saturdays. Taking off work a full day is beyond the grasp of many companies, and people brought their cell phones with them. Most had them in silent mode, attending to work during class breaks. Occasionally, someone would forget and the phone would ring during class. Bob Bowen, the Johnny Cash of Accounting professors, deal with this very well: he’d stop lecturing and walk over to the ringing phone to answer it. This effective embarrassing that person into learning how to shut the bleeping ringer off.
One of the more interesting products mentioned in the article is Zetron’s Cell phone detector that could be used as a reminder or a virtual Bob Bowen.
What do you think? Are people rude? Just clueless? Are there other places phones should be highly discouraged? Or is this all of this overblown?