Surely you know whereof I speak. It is, after all, 2003, and there are more than 135 million cell phones out there. But, for those of you who may have spent the last ten years locked in a basement, I should explain that the Cell Phone Vulgarians are those cell phone users who are so deaf, dumb and blind to the sensibilities of others in their immediate vicinity that they donâ€™t appear to have any idea that we donâ€™t want to be forced to hear their side of a brainless conversation with some unknown person.
Hereâ€™s what I mean. I recently found myself in a crowded waiting room of an outpatient surgical center. People come to this place for various â€œprocedures,â€ all of which involve the use of general anesthesia (e.g. colonoscopies and endoscopies), and each of which carries with it some well-explained risks. In addition, everyone there is cognizant of the possibility of getting a â€œbad resultâ€ from one of these procedures, which can mean a sudden and dramatic turning point in oneâ€™s life. Everyone in the room was either a patient awaiting his or her â€œprocedureâ€ (I was one of those), or was a family member or friend who had to be there to drive the patient home because of the possible aftereffects of general anesthesia. In sum, this was not exactly a tension-free room.
OK, so we are all sitting there in this crowded room, thumbing through magazines, and trying not to be nervous (with, at best, marginal success), when we were all treated to a an award-winning performance by a Cell Phone Vulgarian. He was a thirty-something (clearly old enough to know better) moron who sat in the center of the waiting room and succumbed to his insatiable need to make a chitchat phone call. He made this call while sitting cross-legged and thumbing through a magazine. The jerk was actually flipping pages of the magazine on his lap all the while he was talking. Mr. Butthead talked away, and we all learned, whether we wanted to or not, that in his life there was â€œâ€¦not much happeningâ€¦.just bringing my father in for a colonoscopyâ€¦itâ€™s pretty crowded hereâ€¦hope itâ€™s not a long wait, andâ€¦the movie was lousy.â€ Blah, blah, blah. We also learned that his previous weekend was not remarkable and that he was not optimistic about the coming weekend being any better because of the ominous weather forecast he had heard that morning. He sounded like a sixteen year old the night before the prom. Finally, the dipshit finished his call.
Thanks, Butt Munch. We all needed to know that.
He apparently concluded that we hadnâ€™t heard enough because seconds after he finished the first call, he dialed a second number and did a replay of the same goddamned vapid conversation. After ten more excruciating minutes, he finished this most important call.
I thought, he has got to be finished now; there is no way that this dopey bastard has more than two friends. WRONG. He dialed yet a third number, and we were treated to yet another reprise of the same drivel.
By this time, I was ready to stuff his little silver telephone in a place where he would have needed the surgical expertise of the doctors in the next room to get himself a â€œphone-ectomy.â€ Fortunately, at that moment, it was time for my â€œprocedure,â€ so I didnâ€™t have to listen to this moron any longer.
My exasperation was hardly unique. Cell phone misuse in restaurants, public conveyances, churches, schools and in live performances has spawned an internet cottage industry of preaching about â€œcell phone etiquette.â€ One of the most notable websites is called, not surprisingly, Cell Manners. While Cell Manners seeks to educate and cajole call phone users to be more considerate, there is another site that argues for open warfare on Cell Phone Vulgarians and goes so far as to advocate cell phone use legislation. The concern for cell phone misuse is not limited to the internet. At least one national newspaper has editorialized about the problem.
Legislation is neither necessary nor desirable. Rather, what is needed is a shred of common sense and old-fashioned manners when it comes to cell phone use. I am considering doing my part by making up little slips of paper containing the URL for a cell phone etiquette website, and leaving one with the Vulgarians I surely will encounter in the future.
Of course, there are those who think that websites devoted to the idea of cell phone etiquette are silly. However, I am quite certain that the author of that piece never had the pleasure of listening to my Waiting Room Vulgarian for a half hour or so.
Well, my procedure went well, and I truly hope that the Cell Phone Vulgarian did, in fact, have a lousy weekend.