This Week in Hating
Sending a clear signal to cell phone yakkers: It's time to hang up!
Maybe it’s my age, the economy or the weather, but the other day I screamed at a young man for talking on his cell phone in the grocery store check-out line. I couldn’t believe I was doing it, but I couldn’t take it any more.
We all know how rude and dangerous cell phones have become in the wrong hands. We know talking and driving, and texting and driving are just a few steps away from being outlawed completely. I would now like to add public cell phone talkers to the list of law-breakers.
Come on! You’ve made it to the supermarket (no small feat), dragged one squeaky-wheeled cart around, stepped over boxes in the aisle, fought off smiling employees offering free food samples, and run into everyone you NEVER wanted to see. And just when you're ready to make your break, some schmo brings everything to a halt because he (or she) is yakking on a cell phone.
On a recent trip, I had navigated all this and was ready to make my escape. But no. Instead I was standing in line. And standing. And standing. The man in front of me had a few items on the moveable belt that WASN'T moving because some youngster in front of HIM was engaged in a cell phone conversation. AND IT WAS COUPON WEDNESDAY! I snapped like a rubber band.
The underpaid, overworked clerk had this look of annoyance on her face as she tried twice to catch the protracted yakker's attention. He finally noticed and said into the phone, “Hold on.” Then he looked at the clerk and said, "Huh?" I wanted to lunge for his jugular.
The clerk repeated the price. He stared at her. Apparently the person on the other end of the phone was telling the young man the price couldn’t be right because they had coupons. This went on between the cell phone slew foot, the caller and the clerk for what seemed like an eternity.
And I snapped.
“Young man, you can’t talk on the cell phone while checking out at the check-out stand," I shouted. He looked at me with a blank look on his face, still holding the phone to his left ear.
Undeterred, I went on. I was on a roll.
“That’s right, you can’t stand here and have a phone conversation while checking out. The clerk has twice told you the price, whoever you are talking to doesn’t agree with the price, so you need to put the phone down and either pay for the groceries or go to a store manager and hash this thing out. All of us are waiting to get through here.“
He looked stunned. Everyone in line and at the two checkout stands on either side stopped dead in their tracks.
So what is my point in all this? I am asking you good CultureMap readers to help me lead a revolution. Start speaking up and help me scold people for being inconsiderate.
Flag them down in restaurants for taking calls at their tables and start shooting dirty looks to those with earpieces talking into thin air (when you think they are talking to you). Tell them if their conversation is THAT important, they should abandon their shopping spree and take it outside. And for God’s sake, admonish them to NEVER take calls in the stalls of bathrooms again.
People, we have got to take civility back into our own hands and start speaking up when cell phone abuses are clearly out of line.
So how did my lesson in check-out protocol end? To my surprise, the guy did exactly as I had instructed him to. He put the phone in his pocket, paid the clerk and walked off. As he left he pulled the phone back out and said, "Wow, Lanny Griffith just ripped me a new one for talking on the phone in the check-out line! Didn’t he used to be on the radio or something?”
Lanny Griffith is a former radio and television personality, working for almost 30 years at KLOL, the Buzz and, most recently, Fox 26 News.