Should One Answer Cell Phones In Restaurants?

Should one answer cell phones in restaurants? I avoid cell phones ringing during weddings, church services, concerts, funerals, lectures, theater performances, and restaurants. Many people get annoyed when...

Many people get annoyed when cell phones ring or when people talk on the phone in restaurants or other public places. Robin Thompson, owner of Etiquette Network and the Robin Thompson Charm School, says, "I dislike cell phones ringing during weddings, church services, concerts, funerals, lectures, theater performances, and in restaurants. When I go out to dinner, it's to enjoy myself and get away from the phone and the television and all those distractions. The last thing I want is be subjected to a cell phone by the person at the table next to me."

What's even worse, Thompson says, " is when they don't even answer it and just let it ring. If everybody in a restaurant has a cell phone, it's going to be chaos. So, if you have a cell phone in a restaurant, set it on vibrate. If it's an important call, say if the kids are at home and you want to make sure they are okay, take the call, but go to the lobby to complete the call.

"I was in Chicago a while back," she says, "and a lady had a forty-five minute conversation in the booth behind me, and she was talking just about as loud as one possibly could. I complained to the waitress, and the waitress complained to her, but she remained on the phone. If you must make or answer a call, you should talk quietly and go out to the lobby, but the phone should not ring in the restaurant."

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that a recent survey showed that only twenty-one percent think that it is okay to use cell phones in restaurants. Disapproval of cell phone usage in movie theaters was even stronger-a mere two percent think it is okay to use cell phones there. Public transportation fared better, with forty-five percent giving their approval, but that means that if you use your phone on a bus or a train, you will still be annoying a majority of your fellow passengers. The etiquette lesson is clear: If you don't want to annoy the people around you, stay off the phone while in a restaurant, while on public transportation, and especially when at the movies.

The Chronicle also reported that two out of three people thought it was okay to use cell phones at the supermarket. And, oddly enough, someone thought to ask if people believed it was okay to use cell phones in the bathroom. Thirty-eight percent said yes.

USA Today reports that many businesses are starting to take matters into their own hands, and are banning cell phone use on their premises. These businesses include restaurants and cafes, "gyms, golf courses, churches, banks and post offices." In addition, "some restaurants are creating cell phone areas, akin to smoking sections, where people can talk without bothering other diners."

Another problem is that people tend to talk very loudly on their cell phones. This can be jarring in a restaurant or on public transportation, where the people on the phones are often talking a lot louder than the people having face-to-face conversations, who are talking in normal tones. So if you absolutely must talk on a cell phone in public, at least be aware of how loud your voice is, and keep it down to a normal level.

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