Slice of Life - The Ring's The Thing

I’m standing in a shopping mall waiting to order my lunch from a sandwich bar/deli; the kind where you build your sandwich from an assortment of fillings. My order is taken and I stand waiting for the sandwich to be completed. A man standing beside me begins to order his lunch from a second person serving behind the counter. As he begins to relay his order, his phone rings. He dives into his pocket and extracts his phone of choice and holds up a hand to the woman before uttering ‘Hang on a minute.’ She immediately stops sandwich construction duties, and stands as if in suspended animation for what seems an eternity. Her serving tongs are held like a torch in the air while phone man attends to his phone message. The woman says nothing, as if frozen mid order. An interminable time passes with phone man glued to his phone listening, still listening.

All the while the woman waits. Her eyes though, begin to betray her disquiet at what is taking place here. She says nothing. The man finally lowers the phone from his ear and resumes calling his order. No apology, no explanation. The woman with incredible restraint and good grace, resumes her duties and completes the order.

I cannot believe what I have just witnessed. Mobile phones have now spread into every corner of our lives. Their spread is so pervasive that they have become the most intrusive piece of technology known to man. It seems that there are many among us have lost sight of respect for others when it comes to using phones. We frequently find ourselves privy to conversations that range from ho-hum to excruciatingly private. A form of banal news reporting assaults our ears. Phones interrupt meetings, movies and sandwich orders too it seems. -And don’t get me started on ring tones!

The lines of appropriate behaviour and respect for others have been further eroded by our inability to deny ourselves immediate gratification. Phone etiquette would seem an appropriate focus for public service announcements.

*Please note that my phone was on ‘silent’ during the writing of this slice.


  1. I guess this is the norm, now, right? But I agree ... it's just so strange how a mobile device can easily supplant common manners.
    I would ev ..... wait .... hold on a sec ... gotta take a call ....


  2. I'm beginning to really hate the cell phone

  3. hi, alan...i totally agree with your summation! i spend almost 6 months each year trying to explain to high school students how disrespectful it is to interrupt me when i'm teaching; but what i've found is they are so used to being interrupted, that it's second nature!

  4. I couldn't agree more with the suggestion of public service announcements could now be made to help people learn mobile phone etiquette. Maybe "The More You Know" public service announcements (I think on NBC) could start working on this?

  5. It boggles my mind when teachers' phones go off during staff meeting. We have a small staff and we meet every week. I understand that some of the teachers have children at other schools that might need to get in touch with them, but that is what the vibrate setting is for!
    I loved your description of the woman as she waited for the customer to resume his order. Great imagery!

  6. Alan,
    Ahh . . .so very true -- "It seems that there are many among us have lost sight of respect for others when it comes to using phones." It takes such little effort to make others feel worthy,a simple smile, a hello, a few moments of undivided attention & yet we allow our cell phones to steal these moments away.
    Thanks for sharing, Ruth

  7. With cell phones there seems to be an expectation of immediate and constant accessibility. I miss the days when I had phone messages to check when I walked through the door.


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