Cell Phone Etiquette, If You Care

Written by Stu Watson

Sure you're busy and you want to stay in touch with loved ones or work.  But, do you really want to get the evil eye from fellow commuters or shoppers when you're talking so loud?  

Don't yell, advises Peter Laufer, author of Wireless Etiquette: A Guide to the Changing World of Instant Communication. Wireless phones use radio technology, not a waxed string between two cans. If it's a bad connection, volume won't help.  Also, there are ear pieces so you can hear better and talk lower.

Open your eyes. (Yes, your eyes.) Where are you? If it's someplace quiet, and other people are enjoying the quiet, respect that. Take your call elsewhere. You shouldn't carry on a conversation in a church or theater, so don't use your wireless there.

Tip: Check it with the coats and hats; you'll survive. If the world depends on you taking the call, take it outside.  Also, if you want to really relax, ditch the phone.

Mobile, yes, but irresponsible, no. If you're driving, pull over. Seriously, you may think you're in control, but you're not -- unless you have a hands-free model. Driving is serious stuff. Treat it that way. Walking down a city sidewalk? Talk on, Garth.

Save the inmates. We're all in line. We're all confined to the plane. We're all stuck at the boarding gate. We're all just trying to get home on the bus. So please, conduct your phone call among fellow captives of circumstance as you would any other -- in a quiet or normal conversational tone. We really don't want to relive the bumpy flight.

Seek refuge. Always assume that if other people are sitting quietly off in a corner of the airport concourse, they are waiting for a plane, not for you to conduct a phone call. Get thee to the side of a well-trafficked concourse, into a service door alcove or even an unused phone booth (but only if other people don't actually need the phone).

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After writing and editing Pacific Northwest newspapers and magazines for more than 20 years, Stu Watson writes the On Your Side Column for from his home in Portland, Ore. 
Photographer: Bobby Deal

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