Saturday, June 13, 2009

Cellphone Etiquette in Convenience Stores

What is it with cellphones?

Some of us use them and love them, some of us use them and hate them. And some of us don’t use them at all and despise them to death.

To some they are the lifeline to their soul, to others they are the Bain of their existence.

But cellphones are here to stay. The problem is that we haven’t the faintest idea how to use them socially.

In cars, in stores, in restaurants, on the street, you name it. Everyone within earshot has to listen to what anyone thinks they feel like saying out loud on their cell phone. There actually seems to be a “Cell Phone” high that people get into.To demonstrate, let me relate an episode that Mr. Tech Manners experienced recently:

Mr. Tech Manners entered a local convenience store, smiled at the checkout clerk, and proceeded down the aisle, mentally checking to see if there was anything he needed. "Mouthwash? Nope. Deodorant? Nope. Car air freshener? Nope, the one in the convertible was still working fine." He chuckled as he passed the condom section.

Mr. Tech Manners heard the young lady chattering on her cellphone as soon as she entered the other end of the store. Holding the dreaded gadget to her head, she also got to the checkout counter before he did, where the teenage girl listened to her speak to someone else for a moment while the lady shoved several items across the counter in her direction.

Naturally one item fell off the counter onto the floor and she swapped the phone from one ear to the other and snapped up the wayward item and tossed it toward the clerk, while still talking. As the clerk did the transaction, the lady got bored and turned away.

The young man in line beside Mr. Tech Manners began to vibrate. The clerk smiled at the people in line, and then leaned over the end of the counter display to get the woman’s attention. She returned to grab a pen and scribble her name, and then turned away.

The clerk smiled at Mr. Tech Manners and took his coins for a newspaper, but the cellphone lady had proceeded only as far as the exit door and then stopped dead in the threshold, as she eagerly fulfilled her part of the phone conversation. Mr. Tech Manners approached the door, but she was still there, but turned the other way. Suddenly she sensed something and spun and saw Mr. Tech Manners and then smiled. Then she paused and looked over his head for a moment. He began to wonder if he had become invisible. After a couple seconds, as he was about to try to squeeze by her, she turned and marched out the store with a determined trot.


On the way home, Mr. Tech Manners pondered the main things to remember about using a cellphone in a small market.

First, complete your conversations outside. No one inside is interested in them.
Second, don’t initiate calls from the store unless you have to and then go outside or to a private corner where you can speak discretely. Voices are funny. Some people, with unusual voices, can be heard amazing distances.
Third, when checking out or passing through lines and customer traffic lanes, forget the phone for a minute.

Oh, Mr. Tech Manners has a cellphone all right, in the console of his car. He uses it mostly for telling people he’s late for meetings or something. Of course, his cellphone number is very confidential. He told me his family has it, but anyone else would have to pry it out of his cold dead hands. Mr. Tech Manners really likes his quiet time.

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