CityBeat’s Living Out Loud – Cincinnati Blog

{August 28, 2006}   Cell Phone Etiquette

Cell phones and bathrooms: Can we establish some official ground rules here?

Okay, I have, on occasion, taken my phone into a public restroom either because I was waiting on a call I absolutely couldn’t miss, or because the phone is in my purse. The conversation is usually, “I’ll call you right back.”

But I have had some strange experiences in public restrooms. One time, at U.C., a girl was a few stalls down having some severe diarrhea, and felt the need to share the experience, not only with me, but with whoever it was on the other end of her phone conversation.

Usually, I mistakenly think that the stranger in the next stall is talking to me when they’re not. I mean, when there are only two of us in the bathroom, what am I supposed to think?

One time, however, I assumed that the person in the next stall was talking on their phone, and it turned out they were talking to me. I’m not accustomed to making small talk with strangers while I’m peeing, and I didn’t realize that the lady was speaking to me until she got upset that I didn’t answer.

Another cell phone scenario that could use some standard rules of etiquette is that damned blue tooth wireless earplug.

If you don’t see that a person has one on, then you’re always interrupting their phone conversation by answering a question that you thought was directed at you. If you see their shiny metallic earpiece, then you’re never sure if they’re talking to you or not.

Plus, you can never tell if the guy talking to himself behind you at the checkout is crazy or if he’s just on the phone.

Oh yeah, and one more thing. It seems to be the natural inclination of many people to speak extra loud when they’re on a cell phone (and the tinier the phone, the louder they yell). This is particularly annoying in quiet places like a library or a doctor’s office.

I don’t have anything against cell phones, I love them. I’m just saying that maybe we could get together and establish some simple rules of cell phone etiquette, and have those rules distributed with every cell phone purchase, or read aloud to everyone as they pass the Verizon Wireless kiosk at the mall.

Heather Annastasia Siladi


Mike says:

The only thing I have against cell phones are people talking on them while driving a car. There should be a law. Some people can’t talk and drive at the same time.

C.A. MacConnell says:

I don’t have a cell, but I did up until a year ago. I trained horses for 15 yrs, and wore the cell on my belt while I rode. Just like anyone else at work, we had to be available to clients. I’d be riding around, jumping jumps, and the cell would ring. I’d just keep on trotting or cantering and talk while I moved. Sometimes, it rang while I was in the air. I’ve answered it in the air before…I had to say hang on, breathe, the horse would land, and I’d continue the conversation. All horse trainers are like that. One time, my boss’ phone rang when he was jumping over about a 4 1/2 foot fence that was just as wide as it was tall. The horse shook in the air, they landed, and he answered calmly, “Howdy.” He was the smoothest of the smooth. : )

I attempted to be “hip” for a bit – got myself a cell phone. Now months later, I’ve given up on it.

Friends could never reach me on it, because I never turned it on and I finally faced the fact that I hate the phone. Even on my land line, the ringer is usually off.

When it comes to cell phones, I don’t need to be in constant communication and that goes for the regular phone too. You want to get in touch with me? Send me a letter.

jason says:

i don’t know what i would do without my cell phone. i dropped my regular phone years ago.

Chuck says:

I also hate the wireless earplug thing. You don’t know if the person walking down the sidewalk is crazy or not.

Gregory Flannery says:

It’s becoming increasingly clear that Larry is a Luddite. First his car, now his cell phone.

Eric says:

what’s a luddite?

Jacob Hicks says:

I’ve managed to live 65 years without a cellphone, think I can manage a little longer.

Jacob Hicks.

Teri says:

Either you move with the future or you get left behind, Mr. Hicks. My father was the same way when it comes to cell phones but now he’s very into it. It’s important to be able to communicate when you want and need to.

Heather says:

The Luddites were a social movement of English workers in the early 1800s who protested — often by destroying textile machines — against the changes produced by the Industrial Revolution that they felt threatened their jobs.


(just kidding- I copied that from wikipedia)

Larry Gross says:

Thanks for the info on the Luddites, Heather. I was becoming highly offended thinking Mr. Flannery was suggesting I had fleas.

Heather says:

Just yesterday, my husband and I were at the mall, and this clean, decently dressed fellow walks by us having a very animated conversation. We looked him over for a minute, found no evidence of a phone ear piece, and proceeded to camplain those blue tooth headphones because you can’t immediately spot the crazy people.

Five minutes later, my husband stands at a mall kiosk trying on a pair of Oakley sunglasses with a built in wireless mp3 player and -guess what!- that’s right, a wireless phone!

A blue tooth headset built into your sunglasses! Thankfully he couldn’t afford it!

Heather says:


But you do have fleas.

Ha ha!

Karen says:

It wouldn’t surprise me if very soon, you’ll just purchase a chip that will go inside your brain and will be able to communicate that way. It’s all a little scary but chnage is going to happen – Mr. Hicks!!

Bill says:

Hey C.A.!

How come you gave up training horses? That sound like a swell job.

Dana says:

The only thing I don’t like about cell phones is that they are so darn small. I have to put on my glasses just to punch in the phone number.

Karen, I have thought that very thing! I think they will implant a chip on the rim of your eyelid that will project your compter screen image onto your eye lens, and then one in your ear canal for sound.

You know, if western civilization doesn’t collapse and send us back into the dark ages.

It should be interesting to watch either way.

Karen says:

Great minds think alike!

Beaver Head says:

Maybe someone could explain to me what’s so great about text messaging. I tryed it a few times and hated it.

I just missed the generational boat on that one! When I was in high school, cell phones were unheard of, only super rich people had them.

Now my brother is in high school, and not only does eveyone have a phone, but they are constantly texting. I can barely get two words out of the boy, but his fingers can carry on a full length conversation at lightning speed.

Plus, when I get an email from him, it’s in this weird “text” lingo that I can barely understand.

I can text when I have to, but it takes me forever and I hate it. Then I’ll hit the wrong button and erase the five word sentence that it took me ten minutes to write!

tjh says:

i have a cell phone but i kind of think it makes me not be very social. people get pissed off when it rings and i feel like i need to talk to the person on the phone. i don’t know kind of miss the old days when it wasn’t really necessary to be in constant communication as larry says.

C.A. MacConnell says:

Ah, Larry…remember the days we sent notes by pigeon. I love reminiscing about last week.

Larry Gross says:

Actually last week, I advanced to the pony express. Get with it!

Barbara Wells says:

Hey, can someone explain to me how a person text messages. I finally bought a cell phone that I keep in the car for emergences only, it’s one of those pay as you go, throw away phones. A good idea I think and I am 60.


It’s too late to learn to text. I’m 28, and I just missed the generational boat on that one by a few years.

Your phone should have a “messages” option from the menu, and then something like “new message” or “compose.” The phone should walk you through it from there.

I hate it though, I get all the way to the end of a message, then I hit the wrong button and erase the whole thing!

[…] Granted, noisy kids are not toxic like cigarette smoke. No noisy kid is ever going to give someone lung cancer. The bigger point here is that when certain groups of people are inconsiderate of their environment, the public fights back (e.g., cell phone users). […]

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