A couple of weeks ago I was waiting in line at the grocery store. A friend of mine called my cell phone and we had a nice little conversation. As I got toward the front of the line I could tell the lady behind me was very put out. She was sighing loudly and loading her items onto the conveyor belt a little too forceably. The man in front of me was paying so I had nothing to do but stand there. Which is boring. So I kept talking on the phone. But I realized that she thought me rude for being on my phone. I wanted to ask her why it’s rude to be on my cell phone. Was she planning on talking to me? Had she been looking forward to the conversation she and I would be having while we were standing there? No. Of course not. It may be Texas but we’re not that friendly! Apparently I have to sit there in stone cold silence while I’m waiting in line; anything else is rude. Would she have thought me rude if my friend was standing there with me and we were having the exact same conversation? Doubtful. Although maybe so. What difference does it make that I’m on a phone? (Just so you know, when it was my turn to check out I hung up, made dumb small talk with the check-out guy, paid and left.)
It really all boils down to who is more important: the person on the phone or the person in front of you. Which means that if I’m at a store it’s always going to be the person on the phone. Sorry, check-out people, I’m just not that into you. (Although if you work at a store you’d better give me your undivided attention; you’re paid to do that. If I’m not on the phone, that is.)
One of my friends posted on Facebook about how she was having a conversation with a friend who kept texting other people the entire time. This issue is a little more of a slippery slope. On one hand I get texts constantly: from my kids, my husband, friends, ward members, the Bishop. I like to check them because you never know when something will be important and maybe just need a quick response (such as Mister texting me, “where did you put my car keys???”) I take ten seconds to respond. To me this is a lot less rude than answering a phone call asking the same thing. I like texting because I can glance at the message and–most of the time–ignore it or answer it later. But sometimes I will text back while someone is talking to me. My ears aren’t broken, after all. I can still listen. Obviously if the conversation is really serious, I try to avoid it. But usually I’ll say, “give me a second to take care of this” We live in a modern world where multi-tasking is the order of the day. I don’t want to be rude, but what exactly is rude these days?
I’m sure my grandmother would think all of this is not at all polite. But then, this is the same woman who has actually said the n-word as she described a black person. So obviously we all have different standards about what is polite and acceptable behavior. What’s your opinion? Is using your cell phone to communicate in public a big no-no? Or is it just fine? The majority rules, so let me hear what everybody thinks!