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Basic Rules For Cell Phone Etiquette In Public


Basic Rules For Cell Phone Etiquette In Public

Cell phones are no longer used for emergencies only. People whip out their cell for the most simple reasons. What was once a “status symbol” is now considered a necessity.  Everyone (including elementary aged school kids) has one and they are used as a way of instantly contacting someone.

Road & Travel Magazine have outlined the Basic Rules for Cellphone Etiquette in public.


  • Ask if there are special restrictions on phone use.
  • Initiate only essential calls.
  • Keep conversations brief to terse. Use an at-table call primarily to make an appointment for a more appropriate time for a call-back.
  • If you simply must be available you can put your phone on “vibrate” – say for your anticipated dinner companion to tell you that he is caught in traffic like a grape in aspic so have another drink. (If your phone does not have a vibrate capability maybe it’s time for a new one.)
  • Practice speaking in a quiet conversational tone.  If no one looks your way I think you’ve got it.

Theaters, concerts, meetings etc:

  • Check at the entrance to be sure your phone is “off.” If you’re compulsive, check for voice mail at breaks. (Remember, you used to have to go home to check your messages.)
  • If the only time you could get tickets to take the kids to “The Lion King” coincides with the only time a major mucky-muck is available for a conference call, put your phone on “vibrate” close to your heart and dash for the exit at the first tremor.
  • If you forget both “off” and “vibrate” and your phone rings, turn it off instantly. (And as unobtrusively as possible so nobody will suspect you are the jerk responsible). No matter what: DO NOT ANSWER IT!

Museums and art galleries:

  • Consider the reasons you are in such a place and be there totally. Turn off the phone, or better yet check it with your coat or tote bags.

Someone else’s house or office:

  • Turn off your phone. If you are expecting a call of extreme importance, ask if it is acceptable that you receive an inaudible signal so you can leave the room to take the call.

Places of Worship:

  • Leave the cellphone at home, in the car or at least turn it off before you enter. God may call you but it’s unlikely He will use Verizon.

Airline Travel:

  • Follow airline personnel instructions. Usually cellphones must be off as soon as the aircraft doors are closed until the doors open again on arrival. (Unless otherwise informed on long apron delays etc.)
  • Be particularly diligent if you have a cellphone with you but haven’t used it lately. It could be on; there is adequate evidence the electronics within can interfere with those that guide the plane.

Face-to-face with someone:

  • Do not talk on the phone while someone is trying to take your order in a restaurant, locate an upgrade for you on an airplane or return the shoes you had half-soled. Attend to the face-to-face business totally even if you have to ask the one on the line to hold. Continuing to use the phone while nodding and signaling to the person in front of you is belittling and so extremely rude I’ve only seen the obnoxiously self-important do it.
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