My friend Louise stopped on her way home from work yesterday for a cup of java at a local coffee shop. Sat down at one of the small tables to sip some brew and reflect about the trials of her day.
At a nearby table was '" well, let's just call him Dude. Dude had his cell phone plopped on his table. As I understand the story, there was a plug-in device that led from the phone to his headset. And he was having a very animated conversation with someone. Loud and colorful. Letting fly the f'enheimer and its cousins with a Very Big Voice. Probably qualified for frequent flyer miles.
Louise believed it must surely be a temporary thing. So she hunkered down and waited. But Dude was just warming up. He got louder and more profane. Minutes passed. His expletivity increased.
She doesn't know when she crossed over, but at some point, Louise had had enough. She stood up and marched to his table. She pressed the "end" button on Dude's cell phone, disconnecting him from his diatribe partner. Dude stared at her in slack-jawed amazement.
"Do you know where you are?" she asked. Dude did not reply, so perhaps he did not know the answer. "You are in a public place," she said, helping him remember. "Your conversation does not interest me. It does not interest anyone else here, either. But you have forced us to listen to it. Your language is offensive. And if this were my shop, I would tell you to leave."
Dude continued to stare at Louise. She turned on her heel, as they say, and left the place.
I would like to believe that the other patrons rose as one and gave her a standing ovation. She did the thing most of us wished we had the cojones to do. But speaking for myself, I am generally afraid I might be taking on a serial killer. So when someone like the Dude is broadcasting, I sit (or stand) in a huff and roll my eyes and sigh hugely. I wish to point out that is a futile strategy. Cell phone abusers are immune to even semi-subtlety.
What is this cell phone thing? Yes, I have one. A prehistoric model that probably weighs a full pound. Even so, I don't understand what moves people to share their most intimate conversations with the general public. Have you noticed that they tend to speak at an unnaturally loud level when they're using their cells? "AND THEN I TOLD HIM, NO WAY AM I SLEEPING WITH YOU UNTIL YOU HAVE THAT GOLD STUD REMOVED FROM YOUR TONGUE!"
Remember Maxwell Smart? I think it is time to bring back the Cone of Silence. It won't ever work as a voluntary device. No. It will be a mandatory accessory. And every time the voices of the Dude and people like him (which probably includes half the country) rise to a certain level, the Cone envelops them, muting their volume and rendering public places ear-friendly.
That, or we, the silent minority, could become part of Louise's posse. IS THAT A GREAT IDEA OR WHAT?!