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Cell phone sins

I’m old enough to remember when cell phones were the stuff of myth – something only wealthy CEOs and surgeons had. They were bulky, heavy and expensive.

Then the technology evolved to the point that everybody could afford a cell phone. I’ve seen homeless guys pushing their carts of trash bags chatting away on them.

Unfortunately, with great power comes great irritation. People tend to enter a bubble of fantasy when they’re on the phone, and it makes life a little harder to bear for the rest of us.

Since no reader of this column could possibly be guilty of the crimes listed below, might I suggest you cut this out and give it to an offender you know?

Perhaps it is the smack on the head he or she needs to be brought back to reality.

1. Ignoring the kids

It might be sexist to start with this, but as a mother it irks me to watch a woman chatting away on the cell phone while a child is trying to get her attention.

If you are at the store and you have brought your little one (or even your not-so-little-one) with you, now is not the time to blab to your girlfriend about your day.

I have seen toddlers reduced to screaming fits because Mommy is oblivious to them, no matter how loud they are or how much they jump up and down.

Hang up the phone and parent your kid.

2. Talking in the car without an ear piece

Either a lot of people didn’t get the memo or they’re too cheap to buy a hands-free device (earpiece), but as of July 1, 2008, California law now states that all cell phone calls have to be hands-free.

As of January 1, 2009, there is no texting allowed while driving.

And no one under 18 can use a cell phone while driving.

3. Ignoring clerks

I am seeing more signs in stores and banks that state a person will not be waited on while speaking on a cell phone. Isn’t this sad?

Can you imagine going up to a clerk to ring up a purchase or a bank teller and conversing with a friend right next to you while business is conducted? Talk about dismissive and dehumanizing.

Put down your phone when you’re face to face with someone. Unless you’re a surgeon and the heart just arrived for the transplant, your call can wait.

Not only clerks are disrespected: my mother-in-law’s dentist recounted the story of a man who actually kept a cell phone conversation going while he was getting his teeth worked on!

4. Ignoring ‘No cell phone’ signs

At my Jane Austen reading group last year a woman sat right outside our meeting room speaking on her phone.

It caught our attention because there was a large sign telling her not to do this within six inches of her face.

Every time I go to the Temecula library there is always at least one person yakking away merrily, oblivious to the multiple signs posted on walls, desks and bookshelves forbidding cell phone use.

5. Potty mouths

The first time I heard a woman having a cell phone conversation in a public stall, I thought, “Poor thing, she must be off her antipsychotic medications,” because I could not believe that someone would talk on the phone while peeing in a public restroom.

Now I see it all the time. My husband says it is not unusual for men to talk on the cell phone while using the urinal – ewww.

The toilet is not the place to make or take a call.

6. ‘True Confession’ in public

Barnes and Noble is not the place to discuss your recent gallbladder surgery at the top of your voice for all the world to hear.

We also do not need to hear about your plastic surgery, your break up with your boyfriend, how much money you lost on the Super Bowl… We’re really, really not interested, and it’s practically assault and battery to be forced to listen to it.

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