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Saturday, October 13, 2007

You, Lady on Your Cell Phone…

posted by on October 13 at 9:18 AM

I hate you.


Hell is other people—on their cell phones. It’s amazing that someone made that observation—hell is other people—so many decades before cell phones came along. Other people may have been annoying, aggravating, dense, murderous, occasionally genocidal, and altogether inconsiderate before cell phones, but other people weren’t truly hellish until they could muscle their way to an empty seat at the front of the line for a Southwest flight, retrieve cell phones from their handbags, and proceed to blather inanities into their cell phones—inanities that can only, it seems, be blathered at the top of their lungs—for an hour or two straight.

Every once in a while this woman—this hellish woman—would say goodbye, and snap her cell phone shut. Then she would examine her cell phone for a moment, a serious expression playing on her face. Each time I hoped she was thinking, “I’m a terrible person, putting everyone around me through this.” But no. She was only pausing to contemplate all the people she could call next, every last number in her phone book, all the friends, relatives, and coworkers that couldn’t possibly wait to see her in person before hearing everything—every last crushingly boring detail—about her trip to Seattle. Then she’d flip her phone open again.

RSS icon Comments


Put it in her mouth and punch her in the face.

Posted by Mr. Poe | October 13, 2007 9:22 AM

Maybe it's generational, but people talking on their cellphones don't bother me.

Posted by Abby | October 13, 2007 9:23 AM

There's no such thing as cell-phone etiquette. This is the problem.

People with cell phones possess a sense of entitlement that allows them to breach the relative quiet that any public space may be experiencing. It seems there are no verboten situations in which someone can whip out a cell phone and start yammering at well-above normal conversation level.

Posted by BallardDan | October 13, 2007 9:26 AM


You can't possibly deny that there is an exception there. There are people who are so loud, so fuckin' obnoxious, that you simply want to die when you're stuck with them.

Posted by Mr. Poe | October 13, 2007 9:27 AM

People talking on their cell phones don't bother me either, and I'm not *that* young, but they drive my boyfriend to the brink of madness, and he's not a dick or anything (he is, however, old).

How are you using the internet at SeaTac?

Posted by chauncey | October 13, 2007 9:27 AM


I don't think that's SeaTac.

Posted by Mr. Poe | October 13, 2007 9:31 AM

To me it's no worse than someone having a too-loud conversation next to me, which is annoying, but doesn't drive me to mental violence. They're kind of ghost people in a way, though, disconnected from the world around them. I guess that's inconsiderate.

But actually, a second glance at that picture shows that this particularly person is actively thrusting herself forward into your consciousness. I take everything back I said. Beat her.

Posted by chauncey | October 13, 2007 9:31 AM

How do you know it's a cell phone? It could be a satellite phone, a radio, or a cordless handset for a nearby land line.

Posted by pox | October 13, 2007 9:31 AM

Caption for the guy on the right: You, Guy Who Takes Pictures of Random People With His Cameraphone... I hate you.

Posted by Gomez | October 13, 2007 9:39 AM

What bothers me are the people who let their cell phones ring and ring and ring and ring and ring (usually with an incredibly retarded ring tone) before they decide that maybe the people around them don't want to listen to the theme song to the Brady Bunch and it's time to answer.

This may be an apocryphal story, but I once heard about an audience member of an off-Broadway play in New York whose cell phone rang during a performance. One of the actors stopped in mid-line, looked straight into the audience at the guilty party and said "Go ahead, we'll wait."

Posted by david | October 13, 2007 9:40 AM

When I visited Korea I was struck by how shockingly polite people were on their phones. They actually covered their mouths in public when speaking on cell phones so as not to be too loud. It's what I try to do when I use my phone in public.

The guy on my flight the other day was talking to his girlfriend (I love ya, Babe! Hey, Baby) and I got to hear all about how he wanted her nails done just right for their fun evening. TMI, yo.

Posted by Michigan Matt | October 13, 2007 9:45 AM

It's 2007. Are we still having this conversation? By the way, the reason it's called a MOBILE phone is that you can take it with you wherever you go. To only use your MOBILE phone IN YOUR HOUSE would, in fact, be inane and ridiculous. And stupid.

What kind of traveler are you, anyway, not bringing any headphones?

Posted by Really? | October 13, 2007 9:57 AM

Headphones, prescription meds appropriate for the duration/potential hellishness of the trip, macbook, snack.

Don't fly without them if at all possible.

Posted by It's Mark Mitchell | October 13, 2007 10:01 AM

"...about her trip to Seattle."

Oh. Never mind #5.

Did she go up the Space Needle?!?!?!1one

Posted by Mr. Poe | October 13, 2007 10:06 AM

in 2007 i don't know a soul who has a mobile phone and a land line too. the companies are seeing to it that land lines go the way of the pterodactyl and the answering machine.
wait.. my mom has both . she keeps the cell phone in the car in case she has an accident or something ( and this because it's impossible to find a working pay phone anywhere in north america )
but everybody else has ditched the land line for the mobile.. and am i the only old bastard that finds the texting phenom to be as infuriating as the actual conversations people have on their phones ? i don't get it. you have a phone, but you can't talk to the person you're communicating with except by furiously typing with your thumbs.
and this is happening everywhere. a nation of people who can't stop not talking to each other

Posted by reverend dr dj riz | October 13, 2007 10:09 AM

It's 2007. Are we still having this conversation?

I've never seen this conversation until now.

What a nice surprise!

Posted by BallardDan | October 13, 2007 10:13 AM

My parents still have a land-line. Sometimes cell reception can be sketchy, even here in 2007land

I agree with Gomez @9, the best part of this photo is the guy who's watching you take it.

Posted by Katelyn | October 13, 2007 10:17 AM

I don't get why you didn't just walk up to her and say something.

Posted by wf | October 13, 2007 10:19 AM


At least text messaging is quiet.

Ah, feels good to be back on this side of the Slog again!

Posted by COMTE | October 13, 2007 10:24 AM


I don't understand the text messaging at all, supposedly it's to have a more private and quiet conversation then yakking. However, at least for the service I have, texting is absurdly expensive, and I notice that people who tend to text are the ones that don't pay attention to what's going on, and tend to be actually more inconsiderate then the loud yakkers.

I have a co-worker (I work in a fast food joint) who would constantly text her little friends, leaving me to do all the sidework (I wonder why no one has beaten her with it).

The thing I absolutely HATE the most is people who come up to order while yakking on their cellphones - and it's not to see if the person they're talking to wants something, or they answer the phone and stopped ordering, holding up lines - our Manager won't let us ask the yakkers to step out of line so people who could be waiting up to six minutes (I timed it) to order can order, and get out by the time the yakker is done.

But anyways

@12: reason people still talk about is that there are real rearends in top hats that cannot use the damn thing in a courteous fashion.

I have a cellphone, but I only turn it on when I'm expecting a call, or I have to call someone while I'm out, and I always try to keep the conversation to the point, and away from other people (which is what everyone should be doing). And I will certainly not be answering the phone while I'm in the restrooms!

Posted by Shini | October 13, 2007 10:25 AM

If you are brave enough, mutter responses to what she is saying as though you are on the other side of the conversation

It sounds crazy, and that's what she'd think...moving off or simply stopping. I've done it a few times, it can be fun!

Posted by Lake | October 13, 2007 10:25 AM

There, there, Dan. It's so tough being you--jet setting from one speaking engagement to another, appearing on CNN, licking doorknobs, getting paid to tales about your kid, being so adored and so right.

How dare that woman offend you. Off with her head! Make way for Dan Savage, where everyone else is an asshole.

Grow up.

Posted by Dan, you poor baby. Here's your pacifier | October 13, 2007 10:36 AM

As for the last night, people who say no one should really complain about stupid cell phone use has never worked in customer service-oriented jobs for an extended period of time. I found the more I worked in customer-oriented jobs, the more I dislike Cellphones (and Children, but that's another kettle of fish), especially the blue chip models that goes over the ears.

I will try to give the best service possible, but I will still secretly wish the annoying cellphone users will find their phones rammed into their ears.

Posted by Shini | October 13, 2007 10:38 AM

It's an airport for fuck's sake. I can think of many things that happen at airports all the time that are more annoying than cell phone use. If you want quiet time fly on an airline that doesn't make you line up an hour ahead of time (go back to your yoga class).

@9 -- excellent observation!

Posted by GoodGrief | October 13, 2007 10:38 AM

Cell phone companies have stumbled on a way to print money. Just let people have phones and they will talk or text message about absolutely anything and everything for no real reason except to be talking to someone. A typical boring, mindless conversation ("like OMG, really, omg, like no way") is going on right this second millions of times over on busses in airports, restaurants and the cell companies are laughing all the way to the bank. Many of the cell phone calls never need to be made but some people are so addicted they have too, they can't help themselves and we all end up listening to this useless crap.
I used to own 2 cell phones, one for work and a personal one. Now I just have a phone at home, I do not need a cell and I think most people do not need one in fact some people should be banned from having one because they are so clueless regarding their surroundings.
Would be great if restaurants, busses and some public areas had some way of blocking the signal.
Oh and every time I get into a cab the driver is driving and talking on a cell phone. Why are cab drivers exempt from laws regarding cell phones and seat belts.
OK rant over!

Posted by -B- | October 13, 2007 10:46 AM

This is why texting was invented.

Posted by Kevin Lyda | October 13, 2007 10:47 AM

If her intrusion into your personal space bubble is really that irritating, don't be passive-aggressive about it by surreptitiously snapping her picture and posting a tirade on the internet. You should whip out your phone, go sit somewhere close to her, and yammer away into yours too. Hopefully the arms race over who loudest will quickly build to a crescendo and implode upon itself. It worked for the cold war and it can work for you too!

It also helps to yell stupid shit into your phone too. Like "OMG I'M ON THE PHONE IN AN AIRPORT CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT!"

Posted by Super Jesse | October 13, 2007 10:49 AM

my friend has adopted an etiquette policy for cell phones in public that i think works well: don't talk on a cell phone anywhere you couldn't smoke a cigarette. think about: no calls in line at the grocery store, in a movie theater, waiting for your coffee at victrola, etc. you wanna talk on the phone in public? take it outside.

Posted by bing | October 13, 2007 10:49 AM

I am 24, Since I was 16 i have had a cellphone and to be without it I feel naked and disoriented (I don't wear a watch)that being said if i am on the cell phone I tend to go to an out of the way area, or if im in a shop or a small restraunt I go outside. I have worked in customer service, and where i worked we were instructed to completly ignore customers who tried to order while on the phone, that was fun. but people who talk really loud on their cellphones with a complete disregaurd for the people around them are ASShats, anyone see the ep of Californication where david duchovney beats the CRAP out of a guy in a movie theatre ofr being on his cell phone? AWEsome

Posted by keegan | October 13, 2007 10:50 AM

Michigan Matt -

OK, I'm curious, how did he want her nails done for their special night. Sounds kinda weird.

Posted by bob | October 13, 2007 10:56 AM

I almost got in a fight at the Metro a few weekends ago, during a movie the guy answered his phone and proceeded to have a conversation. I asked him to stop it after about 15 seconds, and then after about a minute I told him less politely.

I finally went out and got the assistant manager, by that time we got back he was done but he actually argued with the manager about whether he had the right to use his cell phone in the theater. The manager said they get people like that all the time.

Posted by sam | October 13, 2007 11:01 AM

@30. I'm not sure *exactly* how he wanted them. I just know he wanted her looking her best when he arrived. And nails played a part in that. I find that sort of conversation just odd to blurt out. Loudly. For lots of people to hear.

As we were landing in Detroit the guy started making jokes about seeing Eminem's house and 8 Mile (a Detroit street). I just didn't even know how to converse with him, and that was a first for me.

Once landed, the general area around this guy was treated to another loud conversation with "Baby" about how eager he was to see her and how stupid it was that we were all taking so long to get off the flight. Thanks, buckaroo.

I don't mind cell phone conversations in public. It's the loud inappropriate ones that I find distracting.

Posted by Michigan Matt | October 13, 2007 11:03 AM

You may hate her but I love you Mr. Savage, for being just as cranky as I am about loud-mouthed assholes in public. Every time I fly Southwest (which I love to do) and I have to get in those cattle-call Class A, B or C lines, some generic "business man" douche stands way too close right behind me and has the most inane/cliched "I'm a wheelin' dealin' businessman!" conversation and barks orders at their "associates" right into my fucking ear. I could put in my earphones, but every time I do, I always miss those endless pre-boarding announcements which makes me paranoid that I've missed the announcement wherein it is revealed that my flight has been delayed indefinitely and I have been secretly assigned to hell. Hell being standing in front of loud-mouthed businessman douche.

Posted by Alan | October 13, 2007 11:04 AM

Oh, and I almost forgot the bit of his conversation where we got to hear him lament the "bull dyke" flight attendants on his previous flight. Apparently this flight to Detroit was better b/c some of the flight attendants were of Asian descent. Lovely.

Posted by Michigan Matt | October 13, 2007 11:10 AM

Dan having a bad day does not equal the world having a bad day

Hangovers make such trivia seem way more important

Free speech it seems to me gives all of us the right to jabber our lives away if we wish

Posted by Angel | October 13, 2007 11:19 AM


Posted by Nomi | October 13, 2007 11:21 AM

perhaps it has only been in the last 15 years that we've really found something to say. at any hour. look around at 1am on a weeknight- everyone on the street is talking on the phone.
last week i was on a crowded bus and the girl next to me talked LOUDLY for the duration. to an ex, i presumed, because i was eavesdropping uncontrollably. according to her, everyone is racist, herself included; she doesn't know how many people will be at the party tonight; so-and-so is a "wigger"; and she is fond of punctuating her disgruntlement with "whatevs."
and then she got off the bus, suddenly anonymous again.

Posted by pretentious | October 13, 2007 11:27 AM

last week i was on a crowded bus and the girl next to me talked LOUDLY for the duration. to an ex, i presumed, because i was eavesdropping uncontrollably. according to her, everyone is racist, herself included; she doesn't know how many people will be at the party tonight; so-and-so is a "wigger"; and she is fond of punctuating her disgruntlement with "whatevs."
and then she got off the bus, suddenly anonymous again.

Posted by pretentious | October 13, 2007 11:27 AM


Posted by jillian | October 13, 2007 11:34 AM

LoL! This woman looks like an idiot Christian yammering away. The goyim, and especially their shiksa annoy me most days, but when I have a hangover, the last thing I want is to hear goyish blabber about their meaningless lives.

On another topic, my sister who lives in Hollywood, calls our Mother in Miami about ten times a day to ask her about career advice. Do any other Jewish career women out ther call their mothers every hour for life and career advice? I find it funny and touching and a wonderful use for a cell phone.

Posted by Issur | October 13, 2007 11:36 AM

I think the real problem with cell phones is that some people are too clueless to realize that the phone WILL in fact pick up their voice if they speak at a low or normal volume. I remember that my late grandmother, even before the era of cell phones, would always yell into the phone. I don't know how to inform people that, in fact, your conversation partner can hear you, even if you are talking as though you are sitting right next to him/her, rather than across the room. But I think that knowledge would cut down on people's obnoxious volume levels.

Posted by oljb | October 13, 2007 11:36 AM

Issur, the second paragraph of your statement seems like Issur-parody. Is this really Issur, or is this an Issur imitator?

Posted by oljb | October 13, 2007 11:41 AM

why not sit somewhere else?

Posted by glutton for punishment? | October 13, 2007 11:49 AM

I have people who talk loudly on cell phones, anywhere and anytime. I also hate people who snap pictures of strangers without their knowledge. Six of one, half a dozen of the other.

I have a landline, and will not give it up until the phone company stops offering it. I had a cell phone for about 6 months last year for a project I was involved in, and while it was extremely helpful while travelling, I was thrilled to get rid of it. I also don't wear a watch (someone earlier mentioned this in relationg to cell phones). It's really not hard at all to get along without these things.

What I mostly hate about the cell phone phenomenon is that so many people I know who live here give me phone numbers with a different area code. I'm not going to pay long distance to call someone in Queen Anne, so I just email them instead.

Posted by genevieve | October 13, 2007 11:52 AM

alas, no. but thank you.

Posted by pretentious | October 13, 2007 11:53 AM

You shoulda sat down right next to her, flipped open your phone, and started yammering away just as loudly while giving her the stink-eye.

Posted by rb | October 13, 2007 11:57 AM

I'm thinking of that scene from Romy & Michelle's High School Reunion...

"Anybody need to make a call? I have a CELL PHONE."

Some people talk on their cell's in public because it makes them feel important.

I personally hate the phone. The phone should only be used to arrange meetings to talk in person. What about people who live too far away to see in person? Well maybe they should move a little closer or shell out the $250 for a plane ticket a little more often or maybe just email me. But after 10 minutes of holding a phone to my ear I start getting cranky.

As for people who are talking loud, I just look at them intently as if they are talking to me and I'm contemplating every word. It's especially fun when they chuckle or laugh, and you laugh along with them. You'll find they either start talking more quietly or they move to a more private place.

Posted by monkey | October 13, 2007 12:46 PM

@28: As a smoker who has a cell phone/pda, I fully endorse that policy. Because frankly, cell phones *are* as equally annoying as shoving 2ndhand smoke at others. Which is why I love that Red Mill has a strict no-cellphone policy and I've seen them enforce it.

And on aiports and flying, the most annoying thing isn't people on cellphones - the most annoying thing are those people who have to completely undress 20+layers plus their oversized carry-on into a luggage bin before takeoff and then take 10 years re-applying all of those layers of clothing only to suddenly realize that their oversized carry-on is now too heavy for them to lift out of the luggage bin, thanks to physics, and now everyone behind them has to wait even longer for the idiot to be assisted. I'd love it if people realized that flying isn't the same as going on the QE2 or something - you want leisurely travel, take a zepplin. They're lovely.

Posted by Anne | October 13, 2007 12:49 PM

@15: i still have a land line, riz. it is the bat line. separates the wheat from the chaff and never once do i lose a call because of a failed signal.

cell phones have made it impossible to be left alone.

Posted by kerri harrop | October 13, 2007 12:51 PM

THE RINGTONZZZ!!! Sweet baby jeebus save me from the hotttt ringtonzzz! I work in a library, A LIBRARY! and I can't tell you how many times a day I have to hear the new Fitty blared at an insane volume out of a tinny-ass sounding little speaker. GAHHHHHH!!!!

Posted by chi type | October 13, 2007 12:52 PM

I love cellphones. I write about them for a living. But there is an etiquette involved. I fly often, and if I'm at the airport and need to talk on my phone, I walk to as empty a terminal as I can find, away from people, and yap.

This woman's problem, though, isn't just cellphone etiquette, it's that she's so self-absorbed she doesn't realize there's anyone else anywhere.

Posted by Matt Fuckin' Hickey | October 13, 2007 1:12 PM

My cellphone serves as a sort-of bear's radio
collar for the wildlife-biologist mrs. Partly my fault for always thinking I should just get one more thing done before I leave work. Fortunately, our conversations usually have a point ("Please pick up milk." or "Dinner's cold.").

What tickles me are the airport talkers who try to squeeze in calls up to the last possible minute before the flight attendant pries the phone out of their hands ("I'm getting on the plane". "I'm in my seat." Duh) . Then fire'em up again before the before the pilot has announced the landing ("We just landed." "I can see the terminal." Yeesh).

Jeebus, have they spent the whole flight wondering about their next call? Don't they ever spare a moment for quiet reflection?

Like, OMG, indeed...furious

Posted by furious | October 13, 2007 1:25 PM

Here is a solution. Just the way they had public phones away from waiting areas, they could have cellphone areas away from waiting areas.
Of course, its possible this woman was not actually talking to anyone. Perhaps she was only pretending to talk to people on the phone so she could hear the sound of her own voice. Without hearing her own voice she might not know she exists.

Posted by MSW | October 13, 2007 1:38 PM

I'm 32 years old. I've never had a cell phone. I don't bore people on the bus/in airports/other public places with my conversations, please don't force me to listen to yours. And for fucking out loud, can you please stop talking on the phone while you are driving? When friends call me (on my land line) and they are driving, I politley ask them to call me back when they aren't distracting themselves from the road.

Posted by Seatattle | October 13, 2007 1:58 PM

I actually like the "go where you could smoke" policy idea. :-)

That said, I think an airport waiting area is a poor place to be pissed about hearing a conversation on a cell phone. Really, I don't expect a modicum of silence in that area. That's why, as others have alluded, one should just put their iPod on, and enter their own space.

Regarding texting...hated it for a while, but have fallen in love with it. I now find actual phone conversations mildly annoying. Why call me, interupt me from something I'm working on, with some short little piece of information that you could text and I could get on my own time? Additionally, texting is like passing little notes in class; I think there's an artform to it.

In discretely, wear headphones if you are easily annoyed, and there's no reason to be offended by texting. :-)

Posted by Timothy | October 13, 2007 2:04 PM

I love your sense of humor! When you post things like this it just keeps me laughing through out the day!
IT'S FUN to read your extreme statements like, I hate so and so, boil Pitt Bulls alive and have their owners eat them, or the time you chased that poor girl at the genius awards with your camera! It all cracks me up...

Posted by mj | October 13, 2007 2:12 PM

Here's my complaint:

* You can't play any amplified music on King County Metro buses. You can't even play headphones too loudly, or else the bus driver will yell at you.

* Cell phone yappers never get nagged at by King County Metro bus drivers.

I defend KC Metro as much as I can, but I can't in this case.

Posted by matthew fisher wilder | October 13, 2007 2:13 PM

I predict this will be the first hot issue on Slog post ST light rail.

Posted by matthew fisher wilder | October 13, 2007 2:14 PM

ROFL! This woman looks like an idiot Jew yammering away. The Jews, and especially their JAPs annoy me most days, but when I have a hangover, the last thing I want is to hear jewish blabber about their meaningless lives.

On another topic, my sister who lives in Austin, calls our Mother in Minneapolis about ten times a day to ask her about career advice. Do any other Christian career women out there call their mothers every hour for life and career advice? I find it funny and touching and a wonderful use for a cell phone.

Posted by Russi | October 13, 2007 2:29 PM

She was probably raised to believe that she was the only person in the world...who mattered.

Our little Tiffany or whatever.

I hate cell phone chatter as well. I can't find a quiet place on campus anymore without someone eventually coming up near to me sitting down and beginning to yimmy-yammer on their mobile.

I think the key to using the cell phone - unless you're on fire - is to keep the voice as low as possible, but, alas, most people seem to talk on their phones as if they're addressing the crowd at the Lincoln Memorial.

I used to think it was a neurosis always needing to be engaged in conversation - the woman at the airport sounds neurotic as hell. And when cell phones were still a kind of status symbol, I thought people pulled them out to show others how well-off and important they were to have a cell phone. A wearing-fur-in-July thing.

Isn't it amazing with the ever increasing population, the growing number of crowded places, and the disregard for social etiquette, we keep coming up with ways to annoy each other?

And don't say, "Excuse me", Tiffany. It's a sign of weakness.

Posted by Bauhaus | October 13, 2007 2:51 PM

And it's only going to get worse and phones have been a popular public commodity for how long? Imagine what's it's going to be like in 50 years? It's like cars. 100 years ago, few imagined how they would be a disturbance in our lives. Sure, each have their benefits. But at what cost? What are we giving up? What are we losing? Read some Neil Postman. PS: From what you describe Dan, that woman is the epitome of all who are afraid of loneliness...afraid of strangers...afraid of the abyss of human despair...

Posted by Soren | October 13, 2007 3:17 PM

"in 2007 i don't know a soul who has a mobile phone and a land line too."

I have a mobile phone and a landline.

Everyone I know has a mobile phone and a landline.

Even my uni friends have mobile phones and some form of landline...

...where exactly do you live?

Posted by Rei | October 13, 2007 3:28 PM

*shrug* maybe she forgot to bring anything with which to entertain herself and was incapable of sitting there quietly for that length of time (or thirty seconds) without some external form of entertainment.

Posted by talitha | October 13, 2007 3:28 PM

Would all of you feel equally as indignant if this woman (or any other public cell phone user) were carrying on a loud conversation with the guy sitting next to her? Or is there something particularly egregious about a cell phone being involved? I've asked myself this question, and I'm not sure how I feel about it.

Posted by Sheri | October 13, 2007 3:34 PM

#10: The person with the phone simply forgot to turn it off, which is an innocent mistake. They didn't MAKE a call during a performance. There's nothing to be guilty of!

I always try to turn off my phone before a movie or other public gathering, but alas, sometimes I forget. It shouldn't be the end of the world or invite scorn. I can't help it if someone calls me; they don't know I'm in a movie.

As they said in Kids in the Hall, "Well, that's sort of the way a phone works. People don't book a call, they just call and you answer."

Posted by la | October 13, 2007 3:44 PM

#61.. i live right here in river city ( the 206. seattle, international disrtict, little saigon, 98144 ) i apparently know everybody else that you don't know.. we prolly both know kerri i guess that makes me kinda wrong..but still.
and no i don't have a cell phone and will continue mightily to live without one as long as i can
kerri.@48.. any time you want to be left alone you can come over to my house and i'll fry you some yardbird and then leave you to as much peace and quiet as you can stand. my records are still kinda disorganized, but call me. you have the number.

Posted by reverend dr dj riz | October 13, 2007 4:29 PM

What's worse: people so self absorbed that they talk on their phones in public or people so self absorbed that they can't stand to hear other people talk?

Some people have the blab gene and some people have the gay gene. What's the big deal? It's not hurting anyone. Not everyone has to approve of everyone else's behavior. Some people are on the fringes.

Posted by booji boy | October 13, 2007 4:33 PM

@ 64 But the Kids in the Hall didn't just pay $9.50 for the privilege of uninterrupted movie time. Don't forget to turn off the cell phone or keep the fucker on vibrate.

@ 63 Yep - hate being a captive audience anywhere. I hate it even when, for instance, people sit apart on a bus and shout to one another in conversation. The purpose, of course, is to engage all of us in their conversation - like a Vaudeville comedy act.

Posted by Bauhaus | October 13, 2007 4:35 PM


i'm sorry...what did you just say???

Posted by momomonkey | October 13, 2007 4:39 PM

Public conversations like this should be open to public comment from the public around the speaker. People should feel free to insert their own advice, criticism, questions, observations, or otherwise generally join in the conversation. Hey, come on! That's no more outrageous than being subjected to half a conversation. If the caller doesn't like it, they'll end the call. And who knows, you might help save the world or maybe a romance ;-)

Posted by Publius Nonsapientus | October 13, 2007 4:41 PM

@65: riz, i will take you up on that offer this fall. it sounds like nothing but good times. and i will leave my cell phone at home.

Posted by kerri harrop | October 13, 2007 4:45 PM

Cell phone jammer. Best purchase I ever made.

Posted by breaking the law | October 13, 2007 5:28 PM


See @39

Posted by Russi | October 13, 2007 5:29 PM


What appears in @58 is a response to @39, who apparently is a real person with real psychological problems according to that and their other posts.

Don't forget to use quotation marks, kids. Otherwise we don't know what you're talking about.

Posted by bearseatbeats | October 13, 2007 5:36 PM

Ugh - another one of those self-important, "I pay $50 a month for the right to be an asshole" types. In the beginning, it was some deal-making, blowhard talking extra loud, trying to be sure everyone understood how BUSY and IMPORTANT he/she was. Now cell phones are in the hands of the masses and by gawd now everyone going to make sure they're impressing folks around them, too. Just the way they were in the '80s...

Posted by trickle down | October 13, 2007 5:43 PM

You have to be kidding if this kind of thing doesn't absolutely drive you crazy. I fuckin' hate listening to stupid people talk on their phones. I can't believe people sit around having conversations in front of everyone. Dan you are right! Seriously, I will help you shut people like this down. Let's do it.

Posted by BenskiBeat | October 13, 2007 6:44 PM

@64: You make a good point about people innocently forgetting to turn off their cell phones in places where carrying on a conversation is inappropriate. Most people, myself included, are quite willing to understand a harmless mistake. But take another look at the first paragraph of my post @10. I have witnessed numerous people who appear completely oblivious to the tinkling sounds emanating from their pocket or purse and make no effort to shut the damn thing off until they are sure that they are the absolute center of attention. This would not annoy me (much) in an airport terminal, which I don't expect to be quiet, but it certainly would in a theater. I suspect the person in this urban legend was probably an example of the latter.

On a different note, I was present when a doctor from out of town was being interviewed for the position of medical director at the clinic where I work. During the interview his cell phone rang. Not only did he not immediately turn it off, excuse himself for this minor faux pas, and continue with the interview like one would expect a person with an advanced degree to do, but he actually took the call. To make matters worse, the call was not about anything medical but about the skiing he was planning to do in the Cascades while he was here in the Seattle area. Needless to say, he did not get the job. That was three years ago and our staff still laughs about it.

Posted by david | October 13, 2007 7:44 PM

I am just amused that the second comment boiled down to "Dan, you're old."


Posted by Jim | October 13, 2007 8:17 PM

I've never had a cell phone. I can't envision a time when I would ever want one. I defy anyone to tell me why the ABSOLUTELY must have one. And no, "because I need to be available at ALL times" does NOT count. The world existed just fine for hundreds, nay, thousands of years without that ability. And it is, and always has been, my contention that, at minimum, 98.2% of ALL conversations that have EVER taken place on a cellphone have been of an utterly ephemeral/non-essential nature.

Just because something exists does not mean you have to use/have it. And don't even start to dispute anything I've just said. Because you're wrong. Period. End of fucking story.

Posted by Wowza | October 13, 2007 9:05 PM

I recently went back to school--fifteen years after graduating from college. I was struck by how many students talked on their cellphones as opposed to talking with eachother. "Back in my day" (in this case the early 90's) you'd either walk by yourself to class or have a companion to talk with or walk silently with to class. I am amazed at the very personal things people will shout into their cellphones within earshot of dozens of people. Thank you Dan for putting this on your blog. I feel out of step with humanity by hating cellphones.

Posted by blahblahetc | October 13, 2007 9:54 PM

I HATE phones. Luckily I have just a few final adjustments on my Time Machine. First trip back, I'm taking out Alexander Graham Bell with an AK47 as he approaches the Patent Office. Then I'll set the controls for a now phone-free present.

Posted by athEIst | October 13, 2007 10:08 PM


Cell phones are important for parents of little kids. This is true for two reasons. The first is that it is very difficult to arrange to get together with other parents for play dates and such without one. While it is possible to do so, it becomes much, much, harder to arrange and especially difficult to do at the last minute, or on the fly, or if you are meeting at some kiddie place that you have never been to before and gotten lost on the way to.

The second reason it is useful is because your kid can memorize your cell phone number and then have a much better chance of getting in contact with you if he or she becomes lost somewhere. This is true of all sorts of kid based emergencies.

I never had or wanted a cell phone until I had a kid. Now I am very happy to have one.

Posted by Jim | October 13, 2007 10:21 PM

I was once at the symphony when the guest cellist's phone rang just as he was about to start his solo. We were sitting close enough to hear it ringing, watch him fumble in his pocket to turn it off and watch the rest of the musicians struggling not to burst out laughing.

Posted by emet | October 13, 2007 10:40 PM

Ear plugs.

Anyway sitting in an airport can be very boring, get an ipod, a laptop or something. If you (not Dan obviously) can't afford your own distraction then spring for ear plugs. I can't fly without them. (You might not realize how incredibly loud planes are until you try the ear plugs.)

Posted by daniel | October 13, 2007 10:57 PM

I haaate talking on the phone, therefore I am an avid texter. In my opinion, it is almost always acceptable to text. All you anti-texting people are just silly!

Posted by Amelia | October 13, 2007 11:15 PM

call me 630-417-4606

Posted by dirty bastard | October 13, 2007 11:17 PM

@ 78... are you fo real!?!

Posted by Amelia | October 13, 2007 11:17 PM

I went to dinner with my boyfriend one time when a "loud talker" was seated next to me (we were at Benihana's, where you often get seated with strangers).

We had just been discussing the fact that I dislike engaging strangers in conversation when this woman was seated next to me. She proceeded to have a VERY loud conversation with her companion. I quietly turned to him and grimaced because I knew what was coming. Of course, we got dragged into this woman's world.

So yeah, a loud person next to you is obnoxious, regardless of whether there is a cell phone involved.

Posted by juniegirl | October 14, 2007 3:49 AM

I have a mobile phone, but I don't like to use it. Most cell phone users are bores who blather on about their boring lives in public places, and who wants to be one of those people?

Personally, I think they should bring back the phone booth, complete with the door and the little fan, so that people can go into those when they want to engage in their tedious prattle.

As for the young lady that tormented Dan: I'd bet you anything she's engaged in some sort of multi-level marketing enterprise, and probably attends one of those churches that meet in storefronts, warehouses, or school gyms. I'd further wager that she lives in either a condo or townhouse in a particularly retrograde suburb, and takes pride in her AOL subscription. She probably has a screen name like "prettygirl3448344" or "askmeaboutbecomingrich3394744"

Posted by catalina vel-duray | October 14, 2007 8:53 AM

Wowza @ 78 - I LOVE YOU.

Maybe Dan is being a little oversensitive about a woman talking loudly on her cell at the airport - an inherently noisy place - but his point is well made. If you don't want people to be privy to your personal conversations, keep it to yourself or email them, for crying out loud. As far as texting goes, use it to your heart's content folks, but the next time the fuckwit in the SUV behind you rams into your bumper because he was too busy texting and driving - and succeeding at NEITHER - perhaps you'll think twice about it.

Jim @ 81? Christ, man, you sound like a right royal idiot. Can't make a play date at the last minute?? Then fucking find something else to do! (Maybe parent your child yourself?!?) Do what parents have been doing for years - stick your head out the door and call for your child! Jeebus, it's no wonder people can't communicate rationally anymore.

Posted by OddlyEnough | October 14, 2007 9:35 AM

@86 - Yes. And we can only hope that you are fake.

@89 - I think 81 was being facetious. If not, he doesn't even deserve a response.

And I'd also like to mention that any civilization that has fallen so far as to be able to use "verbs" like "texting" and "texted" without feeling the immediate need to projectile vomit deserves whatever cruel and horrible fate it has coming to it.

My, but I'm irritable this weekend. Grrr,

Posted by Wowza | October 14, 2007 10:07 AM

Re: Text Messaging

I use text messaging more than I use voice calls, simply because most of the people I "talk" to are in different area codes; long distance on my mobile is insanely expensive, text messages are $0.10 each or 100 a month for $5.00.

... But honestly, I usually forget to bring my mobile with me when I go out, anyway.

Posted by lohengrin | October 14, 2007 10:23 AM

@91 - "I usually forget to bring my mobile with me when I go out, anyway"

See, I always forget - when ranting against stupidity (as I am wont to do), it's ultimately always easier to just let other people do your work for you.

Posted by Wowza | October 14, 2007 10:30 AM

I hated cell phones until I got one. I'd like to think I'm pretty polite with it. I use it for "mundane" conversations in public as little as possible. However, I do use it for work (I'm a reporter for my college paper) and it's been a lifesaver when I'm not in the office when my sources return calls. I'm sure I'll continue to use the phone for that purpose in the "real world."

Also, are people really that bothered by texting? I text in public when I have to do something like arrange a ride home but talking on the phone would be rude. If seeing me text (with the sound turned off so you don't hear the beeps) bugs you, don't look at me.

Posted by Jo | October 14, 2007 10:40 AM


uh, "long distance" on your cell phone? 100 messages for $5? you need to get a better plan honey. let us know if you need some advice.

Posted by can you here me now | October 14, 2007 11:08 AM

last night at r-place i watched a group of people - four at least- standing there with their texting thingamajigs (insert wowza's projectiled brunch here) - standing having a texting jerk. a circle jerk with cell phones instead. and i'm thinking well it's too loud in this club for someone to have a conversation over a phone ( and even thinking about this this far is starting to wig me out ) and one of them gets a text song request and runs up to me in the dj booth and tries to shove the cell phone with the texted request at me. mind you i'm old and half blind and i couldn't have read that tiny ass text even if i tried. i tried giving them the loaded combination side/stink eye but it had no effect whatsoever .
texting is physically easier to deal with than the cacophony of of inane conversation from many cell phone users, but it is not an innoucous activity and for some of us it's as curious to watch as it would be to see someone try to write a letter to someone using a pen and ink.. while walking/driving/hanging out with friends/ any number of other activities people engage in while texting.

Posted by reverend dr dj riz | October 14, 2007 12:27 PM

How did *Self-Phony-Yacks* exist ten years ago? How did they manage their self-absorbed lives? Arrange their precious kidnappable kids' play dates?

Inconsideration is being unable to distinguish a movie theatre from one's living room. When one's ears are covered one TENDS TO TALK REAL LOUD! Does one earn enough money to pay for all of this physical separation from the Reel Whirled? A $500 iPhone could be substituted for by buying a slave to carry around one's own private Idaho area code.

Land lines remain viable when electricity fails. Beethoven would bless God for his deafness if he ever had to hear that tin-foil version of Fur Elise issuing from a plastic razor. God is pissed that text-messaging negates his true intention for endowing man with certain inalienable opposable thumbs.

Posted by I'D LIKE A KIR, MUDGIN' | October 14, 2007 12:54 PM

I agree with #28 about not using a cell phone at times or places where smoking wouldn't be acceptable. That's a great idea.

#81, as a step parent I can see the usefulness of the cell phone, but it is certainly not a necessity. How do you think parents arranged play dates or found their way to new places before the cell phone was invented? In any case, having a cell phone for safety and convienence doesn't really excuse rude behavior on a phone.

I'm in my 20's and I still find a lot of cell phone use annoying, so I don't think it's a generational thing. I have a cell phone and no land line, but I fully believe in turning my ringer off and not answering when I'm busy. My general policy is that if I'm doing something else - having dinner, out with friends, relaxing for the night - I'm not going to answer my phone. I'll check the caller ID, hit the handy button that silences the ring if I'm not going to answer it, and call the person back later. I figure that if it's important, they'll leave a voicemail. If not, their loss. Which brings up another thing I find ridiculous - the number of people who refuse to use voicemail. It's as if the knowledge that I own a cell phone means that I must answer it at all times, so instead of calling once or twice and leaving a message if I don't pick up, people will call and call repeatedly without leaving a single message. You'd think it was an emergency that they called 5+ times within 15 minutes, but upon calling them back you find they just wanted to talk.

I don't think the problem will be solved until we figure out WHY certain people are so obsessed with their phones. I don't think it's the desire to avoid loneliness, because of the number of people I know who will choose talking or texting for hours with other people when they are visiting face-to-face with other friends. If you don't want to feel lonely, why substitute talking into a little plastic box for talking to the person right in front of you? Ironically enough, these people are just as excited to talk to me as they are to their other friends - if *I'm* the one on the phone instead of in front of them. What's up with that?

Posted by justin | October 14, 2007 2:52 PM

Jesus Christ. What a bunch of grumps. Movie theater= not OK. Airport= OK. You have *no* expectation of privacy or quiet at an airport. They play fuckin' CNN at 100 decibels all over the country- what's one more cell phone call?!?

Worry about global warming or the war or country music or the SAM OSG but quit circle jerking on this subject and get a pair of ear buds. Listen to old This American Life episodes- the hours and stress will just peel away...

Also, let me be the first to point out- the yacker appears to be hot.

Posted by Big Sven | October 14, 2007 4:05 PM

There was a piece on the news the other night about a new category of inventions called "revenge technology," of which a personal portable cell phone disabler was the prime example. Can't wait for this war to escalate!

Posted by mark | October 14, 2007 6:17 PM

Justin @97 - the answer to your question was covered in the very first Monty Python episode: "Sheep are very dim."

Posted by Wowza | October 14, 2007 6:33 PM

The funny thing is that she couldn’t have had much to talk about when discussing her trip to Seattle.. Somebody with such an impressive habit for chatter would probably have wandered around aimlessly talking on the Hell phone the entire time, leaving absolutely nothing unsaid by the end of it.

Posted by Rain | October 14, 2007 8:38 PM

I think people should be allowed to use cellphones wherever people would be allowed to engage in conversation with the people next to them. Absolute silence is not required in lines anywhere. If you're in line at the gate with your traveling partner, you're allowed to talk to one another. Why shouldn't you be allowed to talk on your phone? The only reason I can think of is if you talk louder on your phone than you would to a person standing next to you, and that's what shouldn't be allowed, talking loudly. So if you come across someone talking too loudly on a cellphone, go up to him or her and ask politely if they could lower their voice. If we all did this, people might get the point.

Posted by David | October 14, 2007 10:07 PM

Cell phones used to be the way businessmen talked to customers while they were on the road. Then, in the early 90's, I went to Singapore. There, they were the way Chinese guys kept in contact with their parents, to learn and heed the unending stream of parental advice. On the other end were middle-aged Chinese moms who would do their shopping while jacked into their cell phone.

A couple years later, the middle-aged-Chinese-lady-on-cell-phone fad had jumped the Pacific, meaning there was a constant stream of them walking up and down Clement Street in San Francisco. From there, the practice of constantly talking to someone on your cellphone next appeared with white female college students, many of whom were talking to their mothers back home as they walked from class to class. Sometimes you could see two college girls walking together, each on their cellphone. Were they talking to each other, I wondered.

Posted by Original cellphone | October 14, 2007 10:53 PM

Whenever someone has an obnoxiously loud conversation on a cellphone near me, I just wait until they hang up and ask them a lot of really personal questions about their conversation. I figure if I can hear their conversation so well, then it's almost like I was a part of it.

Actually, I've only done this once, when I was sitting next to someone on a bus who was practically shouting in my ear. But it was hilarious! ly uncomfortable.

Posted by flyingdics | October 15, 2007 6:18 AM

really.............. she (and the other guy there) should put a picture of YOU with a title like 'the hideous man who takes pictures of random people in public places and posts them online - I hate him'

I think you are far worse than her,. she might be obnoxious but you posted HER picture online. NOT GOOD.

Posted by girl in spain | October 15, 2007 6:39 AM

oh my good god... are you flying Southwest???

Posted by mooooooo | October 15, 2007 8:52 AM

You should have just sat down next to her and had a really loud conversation on your phone. That'd be very "seattle" of you in our passive-agresive manner. Then maybe she would get the point and STFU. But probably not.

Posted by FS | October 15, 2007 8:57 AM

Dan, you need to carry around some of these.

Posted by Brian | October 15, 2007 10:32 AM

I like the idea of sitting down next to them, flipping open your own phone, and having an equally imaginary conversation about imaginary personal things you find shocking - while staring into their eyes - when they pause, you pause.

Until they stop.

Posted by Will in Seattle | October 15, 2007 11:07 AM

What you do is get out your own cell phone and call someone, or pretend to, and say "You would not believe how incredibly boring the life of the person in front/behind/next to me is. He/she has been going on like an idiot forever".

Posted by derek | October 15, 2007 12:31 PM

@ 58... Thank you so much. I'm glad to see that someone else dislikes Issur as much as I do!

Posted by anti-Issur | October 15, 2007 7:51 PM

cell phone jammer. small as a cell phone.

:) this is really awesome. yes, i love my little bubble of comfort.

Posted by anon | October 16, 2007 7:16 AM

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