6/21/2008

When I am King: Phoney Manners

When I am King...

Violators of mobile phone etiquette in bathrooms will be subject to arrestroom.

I spent some quality time in a company bathroom the other day and overheard someone in one of the stalls talking on his phone, obviously in a conference-call meeting. The disturbing part for me was not that someone called into a meeting while taking care of personal business. Heck, that's what mobile phones are all about, right? No, the worst part was that the guy wasn't on mute; he was actually participating in the meeting whilst otherwise engaged.

Perhaps he was just trying to be a "can do" guy.

Now maybe he figured he could mitigate the situation by avoiding making unpleasant noises while unmuted. And if he were in his bathroom at home, I'm sure that would have been possible. But in a bathroom with 10 toilets on a busy floor in a full building right after lunchtime? I don't think so. I know I made a point of flushing at least a dozen times just to drive the point home.

You would think that mobile phone etiquette like this would be common sense, especially in a professional situation, like not picking your nose during an interview. Or not practicing nude sunbathing at the company picnic.

But apparently this kind of common sense isn't common with many mobile phone owners. How many times have you seen people talking to someone on the phone while the grocery store cashier is trying to get their attention to sign the credit card slip? Or blaring away on their phone while sweating on a machine at the gym, thus spraying the atmosphere simultaneously with bodily fluids and unwanted personal information? Or, of course, talking on the phone while driving slowly in the fast lane or turning in front of you without a signal because they couldn't be bothered to put the phone down to pay attention to what they were doing?

Clearly, it's time for the government to step in to enforce decent behavior. When I am King, it will be illegal to talk on the phone at inappropriate times. Because our agents can't be everywhere at all times (although they'll try), it will be up to all of us to enforce these laws. Punching in the nose will work for many situations when you need someone to put the phone down, as it will both get their attention and dislodge the phone or headset. For driving phoneblabbers, our roads will be repaved with material that scrambles conversations and makes phone calls impossible. And for the bathroom situations, special company toilets will be installed that can be triggered by the IT department which have reversible flushing systems that act like a cross between a bidet and a fire hydrant. If someone can't manage to get off their phone, we can at least make sure they get off the toilet.
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