Thursday, April 10, 2008

Etiquette: My smart Is Interfering With My iPhone


A few months ago I bought a smart car. They looked cool in Europe, they seemed like fun and its carbon pinky print nicely balances out the carbon footprint of my wife's Range Rover. The car is a blast to drive and has absolutely everything I need, and nothing I don't. But the thing is like a puppy. Everyone loves the car and everyone wants to talk about it. What is the mileage? You don't know the mileage? Is it electric? Where is the wind up key? There is really nothing wrong with the questions and besides not being able to pick my nose in the car - because people are always looking, and not being able to flip people off - because no one takes me seriously in my diminutive ride, the car is a joy to own. My problem is not really with the car as much as the interference it causes with my iPhone.

I do my best to not use my mobile phone in restaurants, business meetings, store check out lines or other public places where people deserve my intention, or are in a captive space. As fascinating as I am to me, my conversations are really not very interesting to others. They don't have to hear me talking from my table or listen to my favorite ring tone of the moment. There are about 5 hundred bazillion ways cell phone use can be offensive and in most public places, they are best left in your pocket - only Batman should keep electronics on his belt. However, if I am outside, in a parking lot, it is really tough, even for me, to piss someone off with the phone. Because I don't use my phone where it might offend, I use it a lot in between those places and my car. Nine out of ten walks between my car and an appointment, I am on the phone.

The "puppy effect" of the smart seems to grant a others a license to interrupt my conversations. Every time I get out of the car, there is someone who wants to talk about the car. They mean well and they are curious, but I'm on the phone. I don't use a bluetooth headset or some kind of microscopic neural implant which could be easily overlooked. I have an iPhone in my hand pressed up against my ear. I don't want to be rude to a complete stranger and just ignore them, but just the same, I am on the phone. I realize their question about my car is urgent, and they will not be able to enjoy the rest of their day unless they know my mileage, but please, I - am- on- the- phone. You are giving me the option to be rude to you, or rude to the person I chose to speak with. I usually choose the former - with a nice smile though. It has to stop.

I hereby announce an amendment to the social contract covering public phone use. If I am on the phone and not otherwise intruding upon your space, or requesting your attention while providing less than half of mine, you should not start speaking to me. If you do, I will ignore you. So next time you see someone get out of a smart with an iPhone to their ear, and the rude asshole ignores you - relax. It's probably me.




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