answering a cell phone

In the past week I was twice surprised by someone answering their cell phone during a moment I considered inappropriate. However, I answered mine in one of the following three scenarios and it could have been inappropriate too. To avoid any bias, I’ll let you be the judge. What is your opinion on the three?

Scenario 1
Before a get-together while people are talking amongst themselves.

Scenario 2
During a business training session.

Scenario 3
While watching a movie with a group of people at someone’s house.


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  1. I consider #2 and 3 to be the worst, and #1 isn’t exactly appropriate either. If you think that is bad, there are people (women) who sit in the bathroom stalls on their lunches chatting away on their phones. Icky! It’s not like their talking about important issues such as an emergency, a fire, a “Dr. My insides have just fallen out and I’m stuck at work, what should I do”. When time on the throne doesn’t allow you some peace and quiet, when can you get tranquil time?

    Back to the issue. All 3 are kind of bad. #1 you’re leaving out your friends in the light chit chat (which isn’t cool). #2 Really dumb. Could get fired. #3 If you don’t like the movie. It’s rude to get up and walk out. It’s like saying to your friends. “Um, I’m too popular to sit still and enjoy your company”. Yeah, not nice.

    Okay, so I’ve been guilty of 2 of these. Regardless, their still inappropriate.

    Comment by Mel on May 28, 2003 @ 7:59 am
  2. #1 Okay, if you stepped away and aren’t loud on the phone and made the call very brief.

    #2 Disrespectful to the trainer and other participants

    #3 Okay, only if you had the phone on vibrate and left the room to answer it. Otherwise, disrespectful.

    I find it very annoying when people wander around bookstores or in bookstore cafes on their phones. They are louder than if they were quietly chatting with a friend who was accompanying them. I go to the bookstore to relax and most people tend to treat it like a semi-library and are quiet. But those few obnoxious phone chatter ruin it for everyone but their own oblivious selves.

    Comment by Renee on May 28, 2003 @ 8:37 am
  3. I wish more people would keep their phones on vibrate. They still know when their phone is ringing, but no one else does. It’s the ideal situation.

    Comment by dan on May 28, 2003 @ 10:33 am
  4. I agree. I really hate it when people leave the ringer turned all the way up so you can hear it a mile away. Especially when it plays some obnoxious song. Sure, maybe it’s cute for you, but whatever little ditty your phone plays is likely to make me seriously consider homicide when it goes off in the middle of a movie. The vibrate feature solves this whole problem; all that’s left is the question of whether to answer or not.

    I heard a cool idea a while back. Apparently in some other more cell-happy country, it’s considered polite to send a text message first to ask if you can take a call. That combined with a simple ‘Sorry, can’t take a call right now’ quick reply feature would solve a lot of problems.

    Comment by Levi on May 28, 2003 @ 11:58 am
  5. I answered my phone in scenario #1. I wasn’t talking to anyone at the time, and there was enough noise that I didn’t feel the need to leave the room. In retrospect I could have stepped outside to avoid bothering people.

    Comment by dan on May 28, 2003 @ 7:53 pm
  6. On Scenario #1, walk away and answer the phone, but first turn the friggin’ ringer off.
    Scenario #2, #3 are right out.

    Embarrassment and hatred can be completely avoided if you simply turn your ringer off and enable vibration mode. That way you can discretely pull out your phone and choose to answer it or not.

    I submit Scenario #4 – A person in the middle of class not only gets a call on his cell phone, but has the kiwis to actually answer it and have a full discussion.

    Comment by jason on May 29, 2003 @ 8:42 am
  7. How about the guy sitting in the front row of Biology class in a huge auditorium classroom right in front of the professor when his cell phone goes off really loud and he doesn’t even realize it’s his for a while? Man, the nerve of that guy! ;)

    Comment by Levi on May 29, 2003 @ 9:05 am
  8. It was a new phone and the ring was not the normal one. At least that’s what the guy said…

    Comment by dan on May 29, 2003 @ 9:53 am
  9. Was that you Dan? Oh Dan. Oh Dan, my disappointment is complete.

    Comment by jason on May 29, 2003 @ 12:42 pm
  10. Like Levi, I want to do something violent against those who have loud cell phones and let them ring a while before answering and who will answer them anywhere. There are several at work here who are very guilty and I don’t understand how they can be so inconsiderate.

    However, I’ve been guilty of #1 and #3, though my phone is usually on vibrate, or quiet enough others don’t know. I’ve often wondered if it’s inappropriate to pick up the phone in a social environment, and I still don’t know what is best.

    Comment by Cameron on May 29, 2003 @ 1:39 pm
  11. Jason: Unfortunately, yes. I had only gotten the cell phone a few days before this happened and I knew that the ring was not mine. I didn’t know that when it got a voice mail it used a different ring. I have since kept my phone on vibrate.

    Do some phones not have the silence feature? When a phone is ringing (loudly) people will hold the phone in their hand looking at who is calling. The first thing I do, even when it’s on vibrate mode, is to silence the phone. Only then do I check who is calling to see if I want to answer it.

    Comment by dan on May 29, 2003 @ 1:58 pm
  12. Dan, you are more polite than the average Joe, or Dan.

    Comment by Renee on May 29, 2003 @ 2:30 pm
  13. Clearly, your have your finger on the pulse of the public’s mind. Today’s question on Ask Yahoo is about cell phone etiquette.

    Comment by Renee on May 30, 2003 @ 1:07 pm
  14. Indeed. Yahoo is just following my lead.

    They even agree that you should, “try using your phone’s ‘vibrate’ function instead of the ringer in public.”

    I took the cell phone etiquette quiz and got a 15 out of 18. The choice of answers was limited though.

    Comment by dan on May 30, 2003 @ 2:25 pm

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