Cell Phone Etiquette

I realize how foolish it is to put the words “cell phone” with “etiquette.” It’s like putting “Facebook” or “Twitter” with words like “RESTRAINT.”

Yet, twice in the last several weeks I have had run-ins with cell phones in places I just can’t believe people would take them and actually USE them. Could I offer one word of advice? It won’t go anywhere with you, but just one word:

Could you please NOT use the cell phone in a public bathroom?

It would be understandable if the public bathroom were in, say, the Pentagon. The Pentagon might be a place where there could be a free pass to use the cell phone in a public bathroom when the one on the cell phone in the bathroom is a four star general needing to talk to the President about a nuclear strike. It’s possible the general has been on hold with the President for awhile, and, well, nature called. So, you can’t just hang up with the President while he is consulting other world leaders. So, should I be in the Pentagon and in a public bathroom and hear a four-star general conversing in the next stall and realize he is the only one in there (which would be a relief), then I certainly wouldn’t mind hearing something like, “Well, Mr. President, I think we should stand down on this one.”

So, one exception could be if we are on the brink of nuclear war and you are on the phone counseling the President.

It just COULD be understandable if it were a hospital public restroom. The surgeon needs to take a quick break and he gets a call from surgery. So, maybe if I hear voices coming out of the next stall and the deep male voice is saying something like, “No, that’s the spleen. You’ll need to put that one back. The appendix looks like…” I will certainly understand.

Nuclear war. Major surgery.

But you just holding a conversation with someone about your horrible day because you had to wait in line for some stupid concert ticket? I’m sorry… out of bounds.

It’s quite possible women are not bothered by this at all. Conversation in the public bathroom has been going on for centuries over there, I’m sure. But in the men’s room? Not so much. Thus, it is completely unnerving to go into a restroom, notice that the stall is occupied by one pair of feet, so you take the next stall, and then you start hearing TWO voices out of that first stall.

Gentlemen, could we PLEASE have some space here? Plus, if I happen to be on the phone with you and I hear a flush, I just want you to know ahead of time… I’m hanging up. President or not. Surgeon or not. I’m hanging up. Nuclear destruction can happen. I don’t want to hear your bodily functions in my cell phone.

66 thoughts on “Cell Phone Etiquette

  1. -and please NOT when you are driving – how can anyone drive safely when texting on their phone, or holding it to their ear? How many have to die in tragic accidents before this message gets through?

  2. I was waiting for the bus last night to go home and was listening to my iPod. Through the music I could hear the cackle of a woman more than 50 feet away. OF COURSE she stood right next to me and waited for the bus, too. I wanted to shove the cell phone down her throat… not for talking on the phone outside the Treasury Building, but because I had to listen to her describe how drunk she got at a bar the night before and also intermittently plan a bridal shower. BUG

  3. I run into this at the malls. groups of teen/college girls in the bathroom talking and also on their cell phones at the same time taking care of business. Maybe if its a call they got from their parents wondering what they are up to and it happened to be in the bathroom when the phone call came, I can be okay with that. But other times ? Ugh. One other crazy thing to do is seing a couple at a dinner table and both are on their phones talking. What kind of date is that?

  4. I am a woman. And it pisses me off.
    There are ALWAYS women on the phone in the public bathroom and I find it rude not only to the person who is having to listen to your conversation but to the person on the other end. Ew.
    So I flush the toilet a few more times than necessary. I don’t like wasting water but I love blowing their cover.

    1. Ha ha ha love this!!!!! Extra flushes – hey why not bang on the door and ask for a pad? Yeah even worse is when you’re in line and a person is talking about their car problems when you are checking out in the store. I don’t need to hear about your car problems.

  5. You’ll appreciate this as a pastor, Dan. A few weeks after their wedding, our son and his new bride joined us in church one Sunday morning. Halfway through the pastor’s sermon we heard a voice – “Answer your phone! I know you’re there, answer your G** d*** phone!” It seems my new daughter-in-law had recorded her friend’s voice to use as a ringtone! She was very embarrassed, and we haven’t heard a peep out of her cell phone in church since then!

  6. I work in a library and students do this all the time ! Not only do they talk loudly on their cell in the library but they seem to think that it’s okay to talk even louder in the bathroom.

    I do my part by peeing loudly, flushing loudly and washing and drying my hands loudly for a very long time. Tsk.

  7. I had a friend that would take her phone with her and use it everywhere…I would say I didn’t want to ‘go to the bathroom’ with her, just call me back…to no avail. I take my phone with me, not in a public bathroom though, and only because I have games on the phone…and there isn’t any reading material in there.

  8. LOL! I was confused and shocked when I heard a woman on the phone in the office restroom. Is that call with your sister so important that you need to take it into the ladies room at work? I made sure to flush twice and used the ridiculously loud hand dryer.

  9. I saw the subject line for this post and figured I’d stop in for a quick peak, since I love fiction so much. Cell phone and etiquette in the same sentence? Now that’s a really belly buster! πŸ™‚

    One special pet peeve of mine is something I call “being put on a hold as a human being.” This happens any time you are in a conversation with someone and their phone rings AND they actually stop talking to you to answer it. If there was ever a way to tell someone their worth in a conversation this is it. “Sorry. I have to take this. It might be important. You know, what is also known as the opposite of YOU.”

    When was it decided that just because a phone can be answered that it must be answered? This may be unbelievable to some but there are actually some theoretical times in life where the phone could ring and not be answered and go to something known as “voice mail.” Research this. It’s actually true.

    P.S. Shutterboo, I like your style. Flush on! πŸ™‚

  10. Living in a country town, and having to drive long distances, a cell phone is a must in case of emergencies – however I see NO earthly reason why one would even want to use a phone in a restroom – just think of all those unhygenic people who have preceded you!!
    I would like to outlaw the damned things – wherever you go, whatever you are doing – some totally inappropriate ring tone blares out—-kill them all!!!!

  11. some days I even feel like that about my computer – does anyone write letters, thank you notes any more?
    My dear mother, who would turn in her grave at some of the sights and sounds of today, taught my sister and I manners. I live on my own, but still use a linen table napkin at every meal – may be old fashioned, but I like it. Also, please and thank you never go astray, and as for sorry – I could write pages. Etiquette is dead!!

  12. Will you get that thing off your head before it kills your brain cells
    And MEN should not put them in their pants pocket.
    Certain phones are worse than others.

    But you are right, I love those talkers that really really loud, one time there was a lady in the Sewing shop, You know they have all supplies to make clothing and some accessories to apply. This woman mid sixties, didn’t see the phone she was saying I don’t know this breast is not right it’s too hard, but this one is not right flapping those bra stuffers all over the place and talking really loudly. ahh,
    you had to be there.

    I think it is also ok if you are in your own bathroom.

  13. I agree. I always feel weird flushing the toilet when someone in the stall next to me is on the cell phone. I feel like I’m disturbing them or something.

  14. Awesome post! I recall having a conversation with my wife after she advised me that one of our birds (parakeet) had just passed away. She asked what we should do with the body. You wouldn’t believe the looks I got when I advised “Just wrap the body in an old towel and put it in a plastic bag, I’ll dump it when I get home.”

    You quickly realize that the conversation is not just between you and the other person – it’s with every other person in the room too.

  15. Exactly….and, not to mention its not very sanitary! I have a friend that used to have a Nextel. She was in the bathroom at the mall when her boyfriend called her (and not privately, using the talk feature where the phone beeps and then the caller is on speaker phone) started saying “so did you get those anal beads we talked about?”. Of course my friend was mortified and the bathroom was packed. What’s even better is that her boyfriend was just trying to be funny and had no idea the timing was so perfect. It just makes me laugh!

  16. I have several friends who say they accidentally dropped their cell phone in a public toilet…now I know why! LOL!

    Also, I once was on the phone with a dear friend having a conversation…I was was eating a bowl of beef stroganoff at the time (yes i remember exactly what I was eating…keep reading), she suddenly yells at the top of her lungs to her kids “Would you get out of here? I CANT EVEN TAKE A DUMP without you bothering me!” I was mortified and have issues whenever I see beef stroganoff now.

  17. I agree with you. Absolutely. I use to travel from home to work in a located van, usually plenty of lawyers (like me), art designers, business men, and I hear -also usually- nearly five or six cell conversations… simultaneously! Best regards from Buenos Aires, Argentina.

  18. It’s absolutely disgusting. I’ve often wondered about people who do that. And hygiene aside, I’d be mortified if the person on the other end of the phone heard the sounds of bodily functions and flushing. BLECH!

  19. i have mixed feelings about this..sometimes when you’re in distress, the public bathroom is the only place you can call for backup (advice, emotional/moral support). however, it is hygenically unsound and unsafe for your cell phone to be so close to a nasty pool of water. i have many a friends who have dropped their phones in the toilet. hehe

  20. pls pls pls keep posting things about etiquette!
    we had high standards about 100yrs ago. i dont wish those times back – but respect for others should be a timeless value we all should consider hold high!

  21. When I started reading this, I was certain that you had to have been the one in the stall next to me the other day and were so appalled that I answered the phone that you had to blog about it. But then, I read on and learned you were a man. Phew! Not busted! Well, not completely.

    When I answered the phone from the bathroom stall, the first words out of my mouth were, “Yes, I am answering your call from the bathroom.” I was part of a team managing details for a large four-day conference. And while I can’t recall what was so damned important that I had to answer the phone while I was in there, I do believe some corporate-equivalent to a nuclear or surgical disaster was averted and I can be certain to collect yet another paycheck next Friday. All is right in the world…. Oh, and I did wait to flush until I hung the phone up.

  22. Just wanted to say, from a woman’s perspective, it’s not pleasant to hear a cell phone conversation in the next stall in the ladies room either. Thanks for a great laugh.

  23. Oh, women are the absolute WORST when it comes to using the bathroom stall as a phone booth! Not only is it incredibly rude to the other party to subject them to whatever noises you or other people may be making in there, it’s really rude to just occupy a bathroom stall for the purpose of making phone calls! What if someone really needs it? (And ladies, you know there are double the reasons why one of us may REALLY NEED IT!) Please, this goes for everyone: Don’t get into a public bathroom stall unless you need to use the toilet inside it. And don’t stay there just to make phone calls. You will be hated, and for good reason.

  24. This reminds me of a series done by the comedian “Trigger Happy” which involved him carrying around a ridiculously huge cell phone and screaming into it in various public places.

  25. this was amusing. its unfair tho. i was once on the phone with a really good friend and didn’t want to stop talking, but i had to go pee too. of course, she found out and i was really embarassed.

  26. It is a problem of personal behavior, unfortunately communications today are very important and this particular technology is advancing by leaps and bounds, are human behaviors which should adapt to these new changes, and how many more are to come … greetings …… sinBalas

    1. So what you are saying is that humans should adapt to technology rather than having technology being adapted to serve humans? Maybe we should all wear shit bags so we never have to leave our computers. How inconvenient that bodily functions get in the way of playing with our toys.

  27. I’ve just watched the scene of one man talking on phone while being in a public restroom in an episode of Dexter.. it was something weird for me but now reading this article everything turns into an incredible coincidence.. And imagining the President before the nuclear attack listening to the flush through is mobile is, at least, funny πŸ˜€

  28. Actually, I prefer the bathroom when I’m making a call. There’s usually not too many people in there, so it’s more private than most other places. Talking in line at the grocery store or in public makes me feel weird, and I can’t stand it when people do it too. I’d rather tune them out when I take a tinkle then wait five minutes in line because they won’t put down the phone.

  29. I never really had thought about this before. I asked my wife about her side and she said she really didn’t care, in fact she preferred the bathroom to be noisy so she can’t hear other people’s business and they can’t hear hers. Sounds reasonable to me.

  30. No women should not do it either. I don’t want to hear cell phone conversations. Nor do I want others to hear what’s going on in my stall. There’s a certain equity about it all when the person next to you hears you tinkle or plop, but a person who’s hearing and not in the room—eh. It’s like having a speaker or intercom to the outside world. What happens in the ladies room needs to stay in the ladies room. And oh by the way, I don’t want to talk while I’m in the stall either. My sisters and I all know, the conversation pauses while we’re in the stall. We can pick it up when we come out—really, we can and do. And yes, I will hang up if I know a caller is in the restroom.

  31. Lol. yeah I have seen this done is a public library. It is quiet and then all of a sudden someone answers their phone, not with a whisper but out loud as if they’re in a mall. Very disrespectful.

  32. I’ll have to catch up on all these comments when I get home later, but it’s not only the bathroom (while that may be one of the absolute worst places for phone calls), I just get tired of having to listen in on so many conversations because there is no choice due to loudness or proximity.

    1. Bitsy, I agree. It just sent me over the top to have this happen in a men’s bathroom… TWICE. I just couldn’t help myself. I could do more on etiquette and “social graces,” but then I would just get angry at the lack of it. I wanted to do something humorous just to get it off my chest. πŸ™‚

  33. LOL,
    I think people should understand that it is a person on the other end. I don’t want to stand in line at Subway and watch you order and talk on the phone at the same time. Hang it up, order your sub, pay for it then call the person back I am sure that the world will not end in those 5 minutes.

  34. This is hillarious! And yes this does happen in the women’s restroom and has for quite some time. Disturbing, I know. There are just no boundaries anymore.

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