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Old 12-08-2009, 04:35 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Location: Eastern Canada
Telephone/Cellphone Etiquette

I threw the president of my company out of my office yesterday. Ok, I told him I had things to do, and if we needed to discuss his issue we should set up a meeting.

He came into my office, and in the middle of the discussion, his cellphone went off and HE ANSWERED IT!!! Few things make my blood boil more than that. While he was on the phone, I made it a point to get up, walk out, and go down to the kitchen and get some coffee. When I got back, he was still on the phone. When he hung up, I said he was obviously busy, I had some things I had to finish, and perhaps we should schedule a meeting to discuss his issue.

Now, he's not stupid (he's actually a great young guy), so he asked what was wrong. I then read him the riot act. I explained I NEVER answer the phone when I am speaking to someone, UNLESS I warn them I am expecting an important call. I told him it was impolite and even insulting to answer a phone in the middle of a conversation, and that it completely unacceptable to come into MY OFFICE and answer HIS cellphone while talking to me (I give this speech to everyone who does that).

I then told him that in the entire time since Bell inflicted the telephone on an unsuspecting world, no one had ever received a phone call from God. Nor were his chances of getting a call from the Pope very good. He apologised and agreed to never to it again, at least in my presence.

Am I the only person in the world who gets annoyed by poor telephone etiquette? Does anyone else feel slighted when a person picks up a phone & wanders off into another conversation, leaving you there twiddling your thumbs?
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Old 12-08-2009, 04:43 AM   #2 (permalink)
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When I worked in retail, whenever someone was on their phone while having me ring out their purchases, I felt nothing other than the sudden urge to punch them in the throat to see how enjoyable the rest of their conversation would be.

I dunno. Maybe that's just me....
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Old 12-08-2009, 04:49 AM   #3 (permalink)
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what the fuck do people need cell phones for, anyways?
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Old 12-08-2009, 07:09 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Location: Spokane, WA
talking is so 90's.
texting is where it's at ;p
hell I could text my last 2 bosses on their cells if I was gonna be later or something.
Pizza Hut lets you txt your orders now (after you set it up on your site profile) with custom keywords, I like "HUNGRY" or "RLYFKNHNGRY" (actually not sure if that fits)
but nah, if i'm somewhere public and not engaged directly in conversation, as a speaker, or as a direct listener, I'll usually take the call. If I'm with friends and I know it's someone who wants to talk for a long time (like maybe my dad) i'll take it but tell him that I'll call him back later when I'm not socially engaged
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Old 12-08-2009, 07:36 AM   #5 (permalink)
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The only time it's okay for my boyfriend to answer a call when we're in the middle of conversation is if it's one of his clients - since he's a vet, his taking 5-10 minutes to listen to a voicemail and call back can sometimes be a real problem.

If it's his mom, dad, or one of his friends and it's not an emergency, though.. I get pissed.

I keep my phone on silent/vibrate most of the time, so I don't inadvertently interrupt a conversation because my phone goes off. I VERY rarely get important calls, so I usually just leave the phone in my purse and check it occasionally to see if I missed anything. I'll only answer a call in the middle of a conversation if I've let the other person know that I'm expecting an important call/expecting someone to return my call, and even then I am more likely to just let it go to voicemail and call back at a better time.
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Old 12-08-2009, 08:06 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Here's my threadjacking tangent: Do cellphone displays flash a red border around emergency calls these days? I was unaware that they incorporated Psychic Friends Network technology or featured panic-sensing caller ID. Where have I been?


I'm sure we're all aware of when it's appropriate to verbally masturbate on the phone and when it isn't. A lot of people just don't have that kinda class.


But let's say for a second that phones can be used for emergency purposes and that a cellular phone with caller ID has alerted many people to really bad things that they wanted to know about immediately. When I get a random cellphone call from my family or close friends... I assume that they have something important to say until the call proves otherwise. I can cut them off after the initial 20 seconds of blah-blah. No harm, no foul.

I'm not going to let a dying parent or a sobbing friend that just got into a horrible car wreck go to voicemail because I'm blabbing with my current fuckbuddy about how ugly Sarah Jessica Parker is or the endless homestyle vs. buttermilk waffles debate. That's just all bad.

I don't see it as rude as long as its prefaced correctly (I answer all calls to confirm the issue) and handled respectfully (I apologize, it may have been an emergency). Obviously you can't do it in every situation, such as at work or while driving, but at home or while out and about? Why not? Is what you're doing right now so incredibly important that a potential emergency call should be ignored? Call me hypervigilant, but I've had this kinda thing happen a few times and it makes me glad I answer the phone. Maybe I'm just all wound up because of my occupation. Either way, I take the call.

Text messages, while the preferred method for these types of things due to their nature, aren't always a viable option. Trying to text after a tractor-trailer smashes your car into scrap iron is a real challenge, I'd imagine. Sometimes people call. These people are important enough for me to answer.


I realize that there is a school of thought that believes cellphones are Rectal Leashes of The Man or Anal Tethers of Society. That's fine as long as you realize an inanimate object is only as evil as the human operating it. I've got up and left the restaruant during a date where the girl talked to her girlfriends on her phone for ten minutes in my presence. I've also had cases where others have called, genuinely needed my help and I had to excuse myself from a college class or social gathering. It's a tossup. I'm a big fan of privacy and Old School but cellphones are a good idea when used properly.
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Last edited by Plan9; 12-08-2009 at 08:51 AM..
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Old 12-08-2009, 08:11 AM   #7 (permalink)
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My dad would completely agree with you, GreyWolf. In fact, my dad is hardcore old fashioned; he avoids email and the phone as much as possible, opting instead to walk down the hall and (gasp) talk to his co-workers IN PERSON. This leads to much confusion and anger on the part of his co-workers, who don't understand why anyone would do that sort of thing.

ADDENDUM: My wife often texts me while I'm in rehearsal, and the gets annoyed if I don't respond right away. I don't respond to these texts until we hit a break, as a) it would distract me from what I'm trying to get accomplished and b) it's impolite to those around me who are also trying to concentrate on the task at hand. Her mind set is more "corporate", where everyone is constantly tethered to their Blackberrys and are expected to respond to every phone call/text/email they receive the moment their device beeps or buzzes

Last edited by Derwood; 12-08-2009 at 08:13 AM..
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Old 12-08-2009, 08:27 AM   #8 (permalink)
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hmmm... well, when I'm out in public, I'll either hang up or ask the person I'm on the phone with to hold on for a minute if I'm approaching a cashier or teller or some such person. I think other people should do the same, since we seem to have lost a lot when it comes to face-to-face encounters and basic everyday etiquette.

In work situations, I get annoyed with diners who stay on their phone as I'm trying to serve them... but I understand that they have office jobs and may need to network during lunch sometimes. What gets me is when people are on a date, or out with families, and are tethered to their phones. Jeez, people, have a conversation with each OTHER for a change!

Otherwise, it doesn't bother me. I mean, obviously one shouldn't answer the phone in a meeting situation, but if I'm just hanging out with someone socially, it's not a big deal.
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Old 12-08-2009, 10:51 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Baraka_Guru View Post
When I worked in retail, whenever someone was on their phone while having me ring out their purchases, I felt nothing other than the sudden urge to punch them in the throat to see how enjoyable the rest of their conversation would be.

I dunno. Maybe that's just me....
I understand your upset, here. It's completely justifiable (I personally think cell phones are from the Devil, and do not use one). But if you turn that retail situation around, you'll get one of my biggest telephone peeves.

I'll be standing in a check-out line two or three deep. It's finally my turn to make my purchase and one minute into the transaction, the cashier's phone rings. The cashier turns away, picks up the phone and has a nice long chat with the caller, while my hair self-ignites.

Hey dillweed! The person standing in front of you is your priority at this moment. I have been patiently waiting my turn, as have others. Screw your caller; if what they need to know takes more than 10 seconds, you can put their ass on hold and they can wait till every PAYING customer in front of you is taken care of.


Last edited by dlish; 12-09-2009 at 11:38 AM..
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Old 12-08-2009, 10:53 AM   #10 (permalink)
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I would prefer people call 911 for emergencies, not me.
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Old 12-08-2009, 11:39 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Location: Tupelo, MS
what if a family member was calling to tell you that somebody in your immediate family has died or been in a car crash and they felt like you would want to know immediately? (in this case, 911 has already been called if necessary)

I would tend to agree with everything Plan9 said

just because your not expecting an emergency or something important doesn't mean somebody isn't calling to tell you of an emergency or something important

as mentioned, you can answer your phone to see if this is the case and if not, you can quickly put them off until later
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Old 12-08-2009, 12:11 PM   #12 (permalink)
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People talking on the phone/texting at a restaurant is really sad to me.

On a similar note, seeing a group of friends walking down the street "together", all with ear buds in their ears also saddens me.
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Old 12-08-2009, 02:14 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Location: Atlanta
As long as your ringer isn't on the highest volume setting, I'm fine with whatever. If you have trouble hearing your ringer, use the vibrate option or, you shouldn't have a phone. I know I don't find it cute when your phone is ringing quite loudly and you're fumbling to fetch it out of your purse. Or perhaps you decide to answer it later without muting it to spare the nerves of those around you.

Oh forget it, either way you're a douche.

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Old 12-08-2009, 02:22 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Cell phone usage is just rude to me, period. If you are face to face with someone, it means you aren't as important as the person on the phone. As for restaurants, retail... I'll never, and I always say something to that person who is ahead of me, and the cashier or whoever always seem to laugh.

Just like driving and talking on the phone, I prefer not to, but every once and while. But I pay attention. I hate the drivers that only see themselves on the road, and cut people off, etc...
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Old 12-08-2009, 04:05 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Location: Redneckville, NC
At work I answer my work phone as it rings (only my boss calls me on that), unless i'm in the middle of talking to someone or explaining a problem/solution to them. My personal phone I don't answer at work if anyone is around me. 9/10 I'll silence it on the first ring and let it go to voice mail.

I do work alone a lot, so I answer my phone as it rings. If I am going through a line, I will tell the person to hold on and complete my transaction. I get annoyed when someone answers their phone while I'm trying to explain a problem/fix for their PCs/network (or how much of an idiot they are) and tells me to wait. In the long run tho, they are paying me $85 an hour for me to listen to them talk to their wife.

I got really irritated yesterday when this older lady who runs the books for a non-profit made me upgrade a piece of software her network couldn't handle. When the install screwed up her accounts, she wouldn't get off her phone to listen to me explain why it wouldn't work. She literally told me to talk to her why she was asking about her son's grade in middle school math. I finally just gave up, let her talk for 10 minutes (While I played risk on my phone), then told her the solution. At the end of the day, I tacked an extra hour on to her bill for having to put up with that shit.

In the end I agree with Plan9, excuse yourself and go somewhere else to talk. I don't care as long as you don't do it in front of me. I'm polite about it, I expect the same thing from you.
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Old 12-08-2009, 04:40 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Baraka_Guru View Post
When I worked in retail, whenever someone was on their phone while having me ring out their purchases, I felt nothing other than the sudden urge to punch them in the throat to see how enjoyable the rest of their conversation would be.

I dunno. Maybe that's just me....
I work retail. Next fucker I see with a phone that answers it gets to find someone else to explain the purchase. I don't have time to sit and watch them chitchat about life with buddy.
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Old 12-09-2009, 06:28 AM   #17 (permalink)
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A lot of the pissed-off-ness some of you are experiencing is purely due to the fact that the person using the cellphone has little to no manners. Showing just a little bit of regard for the real person in front of you can go a long way. When prefaced properly, answering a call in the presence of another can be as polite as saying "How do you do" in an Eliza Doolittle accent.

When my phone rings, I always base my action on who the caller is and who I am with at the time of the call. If I'm going to take the call, I ask whoever I'm with if it's OK for me to answer (if it's appropriate I'll tell them who it is) thereby giving them the opportunity to tell me no. No one ever has though.

I don't mind cellphones, they're a valuable tool. I just cannot stand rude people.
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Old 12-09-2009, 06:38 AM   #18 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Plan9 View Post
... That's fine as long as you realize an inanimate object is only as evil as the human operating it. ...
This pretty much summarizes what I have to say on the matter.., and one more time GreyWolf, RESPEK MAN!!!
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Old 12-09-2009, 09:21 AM   #19 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by healer View Post
I don't mind cellphones, they're a valuable tool. I just cannot stand rude people.
Let the wisdom of healer pass down through the ages.

Cell phones are great. Cell phones combined with a 'me first' or 'me only' attitude can and do lead to awkward or downright irritating situations.

Having a phone permanently grafted to your hip or face does not exempt you from consideration for the people around you.
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Old 12-09-2009, 09:45 AM   #20 (permalink)
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Cell phones are a double edge bane of my existence sword lol with them and their constant evolution it keeps Dave away from home because all the cell companies are constantly needing new testing chambers all over the world.....but without them Dave wouldnt have a job lol
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Old 12-09-2009, 11:17 AM   #21 (permalink)
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On a first date 2-3 weeks ago the dude answered his phone at dinner! When he hung up he leaned over and said that it was his adult daughter telling him how the women had oood-ahhd over how handsome he was at the library earlier in the day. I suggested this would never work and left the table, and the restaurant.

Yesterday, I was hit by a car in a parking lot while walking to my car. The dude was backing up while on his cell phone and fucking hit me. My knees are bruised.
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Old 12-11-2009, 08:34 AM   #22 (permalink)
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I'm not a busy person and often don't get a call a month.
What does bother me is when someone calls and is eating at the same time!
I may tell them to call me when they are though eating.
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Old 12-11-2009, 09:33 AM   #23 (permalink)
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I am known to harass drivers on the phone though. I ride their asses, honk the horn and flash my lights.
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Old 12-11-2009, 10:05 AM   #24 (permalink)
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When I'm at work, clients usually take priority. If they call me cellphone while I'm talking to a coworker I'll usually answer it, just as I would if they were calling me on the office phone. There are exceptions of course but in general that is how it works.

I don't know why it bothers people in retail. If you are ordering at a counter then it interferes with what you are doing but if you are at a store checking out it isn't as if you'd be having some deep conversation with the person. I spend time in retail and food service and it never bothered me.
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Old 12-17-2009, 06:11 AM   #25 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by girldetective View Post

On a first date 2-3 weeks ago the dude answered his phone at dinner! When he hung up he leaned over and said that it was his adult daughter telling him how the women had oood-ahhd over how handsome he was at the library earlier in the day. I suggested this would never work and left the table, and the restaurant.

Yesterday, I was hit by a car in a parking lot while walking to my car. The dude was backing up while on his cell phone and fucking hit me. My knees are bruised.
I'm sorry to hear this girldetective. I hope you're feeling better.

Here in Portugal cellphone use is very, very high. I'm not sure our etiquette is quite the same as yours.

I consider it rude if someone answers their phone while in the middle of a conversation with me if it's nothing relevant. But I also think it's none of my business what calls people decide to take. If it's important enough to them, I respect that they may need to take the call. I don't get too annoyed by it, it's not worth it.

For myself, I never take calls in the middle of a conversation with another person, unless it's an urgent call that I'm expecting. I always apologize to the person if this happens, which is not often. If my phone rings, I will take it out, quickly look at the screen to see who it could be, then silence it.

One exception - I always take calls from my mom. She had an aneurysm some years ago and I am always worried she might need me and I didn't take the call.

As for calls at work, part of my job is to answer the phone, and if none of my colleagues can take the call, I have to. So unless I am in mid-sentence I will excuse myself and take the call.

My mother, who is a very polite woman, always takes cellphone calls. It drives me nuts but she feels that every call could be important and always takes it. It drives me nuts because she will take calls mid-meal and everything.

Driving and talking on the cellphone...big no no.
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However much we give our thoughts the will
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In what we show ourselves we are ignored.
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Old 12-17-2009, 08:54 AM   #26 (permalink)
Originally Posted by Plan9 View Post
That's fine as long as you realize an inanimate object is only as evil as the human operating it.
I'm with you, Plan9, and the others with similar opinions. Cell phone technology may have changed the method of reaching someone, but it hasn't changed the basic ways we interact. If someone takes a call in the middle of a conversation and talks for 10 minutes it makes me angry, but it's the same as if a person walked up and hijacked the conversation while I'm still standing there. On the other hand if we're talking and someone takes a call, and it's just a "Oh, FYI, the meeting's been moved to 3." then it's no big deal.

If you're in a large group meeting or a movie theater, you shouldn't start talking to your buddy about the game last night either. Talking on the phone is the same thing. Obviously your ringer should be silenced though, just like you shouldn't randomly yell or make distracting noises.

I think if you imagine someone walking up to talk instead of the phone ringing, you'd see a lot of frustration with cell phones (besides inattentive driving, etc) isn't because of some new social rule on the evils of technology and instant availibility, but things that are rude in person too.
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