Many people in this country take public transportation to work. In my case I take a bus from my little corner of suburbia to the big city. The operator of the line I take has a few basic rules for riders. No food or drink, clean up your newspapers when you leave, etc.. But the one that probably causes the most trouble and confrontation is the one that states “Cell Phone Use Prohibited”.
I’ve had many discussions about this rule over the years and the argument goes as follows: Those for the rule state that the noise of the phone conversation is disruptive to other riders. I understand and agree with this. But those against the rule counter by arguing that the noise generated by a phone conversation is half as much noise as a conversation between two people sitting next to each other on the bus but conversation is allowed. I understand and agree with this too. So while I avoid talking on my phone when I’m on the bus there are rare occasions where I do.
One such occasion occurred the other day. While waiting to board the bus I called my mother who I had been out of town for a few days. I hadn’t spoken with her since she got back and figured I’d call while I waited to board. (As far as I know there is no rule against cellphone use in the bus terminal.) I know how annoying it is when other people talk on the phone in public so, just as I try to avoid talking on the phone on the bus, I also try to avoid having long phone conversations in public places. This was a rare exception.
At some point the bus started boarding and I got on as my mother talked to me. I remained silent for a minute as she talked and I found my seat. When she finished what she was saying I jumped in to say “OK, I’m on the bus now so I have to hang up” but before I could finish saying “OK” the man in the seat in front of mine was already on me.
“NO, NO, NO. YOU CAN’T DO THAT”, he shouted. “IT’S NOT ALLOWED!”
I tried to explain that I was just signing off but he wouldn’t let me get a word out. So I just ignored him while I said goodbye and hung up the phone.
I understand where this guy was coming from and have no problem with his point of view. What I have a problem with was his approach. I can understand getting a little hot if I was talking through a whole trip but to raise your voice to me seconds after boarding when all I was trying to do was end the conversation was a bit much.
I also noted that this guy had been eyeing me while we were on line waiting to board the bus. He was clearly annoyed at my phone use. As stated earlier I understand the annoyance and usually avoid this very situation. But this guy appeared to be looking for a confrontation.
This is just one example of what’s wrong with our society today. Though I admit I was part of the problem in this story it’s no excuse for a total stranger to raise their voice the way this guy did. A simple “Excuse me, can you please keep to the no cellphone use rule” would have sufficed. My reply to this would have been “I’m sorry. I’m just signing off now.” and the whole thing would have been done with far less stress. But no. People feel they have to get in your face for the simplest reasons.
Can’t we all just get along?