Back in 2002, international etiquette expert, author and spokesperson Jacqueline Whitmore declared July was National Cell Phone Courtesy Month in an effort to help people stop being such knuckleheads when talking to family, texting sweethearts or checking their email for pleas to help “friends” stuck in the Philippines who have lost their wallets and need money wired quickly.
Seventeen years later, The Associated Press stylebook has changed “cell phone” to “cellphone” -- one word for those of you playing along at home -- and companies selling them insist they are “smartphones.” Unfortunately, many people using them are still the same ol’ knuckleheads, talking, texting and checking email when they shouldn’t be.
As the senior interim mobile technology correspondent for this award-winning publication and a regional etiquette expert, I will help readers observe 2019 National Cell(smart)phone Courtesy Month with the following Q&A focusing on some common phone-related situations.
Q. Hey, Scott. Thanks for taking on the important topic of cellphone etiquette in your column this week. I’m sure it wasn’t because you celebrated the Fourth of July pretty hard and you couldn’t think of anything else to write about at the last minute. Anyway, I will give the eulogy at my Uncle Delmore’s funeral on Saturday and I know it would be inappropriate if somebody called me right in the middle of it and my “I Like Big Butts” ringtone started playing, but I don’t want to miss any important calls. Would it be OK if I put it on vibrate and set it on the casket lid while I talked about how much he meant to everybody?
A. No. Jacqueline Whitmore in an earlier article recommends you “be all there.” She adds, “Let your voicemail take your calls when you’re in meetings, courtrooms, restaurants or other busy areas.” In this case, though, you could consider changing your ringtone to the chorus of Johnny Paycheck’s “I’m The Only Hell (My Mama Ever Raised),” which, if I recall, was Delmore’s favorite song.
Q. I was sitting in the DMV waiting room the other day with about a dozen or so other people and I decided to go ahead and schedule an appointment with the doctor because I have been so constipated lately that I can’t hardly stand it. I started telling the nurse over the phone everything I had tried and how nothing I did worked and everybody in the DMV started looking at me like I was crazy and I yelled, “Y’all quit listening to my personal constipation business. That’s a HIPPA violation!” Were they in the wrong eavesdropping on me like that?
A. Actually, you were the one being discourteous. Jacqueline says, “Use discretion when discussing private matters or certain business topics in front of others. You never know who is within hearing range.”
I would suggest you also drink more water and increase your fiber intake.
Q. I like to watch funny videos on my phone. There was one the other day where a guy set his buddy’s pants on fire while he was passed out drunk and that guy woke up and started running around screaming and cussing a blue streak. Calling him every name in the book. I mean he just let it fly. Some of the people around me told me to turn it down because they couldn’t hear the sermon. Who was in the wrong here?
A. You were. Another article based on Jacqueline’s advice says, “Multimedia applications such as streaming video and music are great ways to stay informed and access the latest entertainment. Use earphones to avoid distracting others in public areas.”
Q. I lost my wallet and I’m stuck in the Philippines. Can you wire me some money?
A. No. You’ll just have to wait for the inheritance from your Uncle Delmore.
Scott Hollifield is editor/GM of The McDowell News in Marion, NC and a humor columnist. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.