My friend, Amy Alkon, writes brilliantly and more eloquently than me about this problem in her book, I See Rude People. But another voice spreading the word about loud mouthed people on their cellphones in public places can't hurt and might help her one-woman crusade against rude behavior pick up some steam.
Saturday night, on the New Jersey Transit North Coast line heading out of New York Penn Station, a very pretty young lady got on the train and sat across the aisle from me while shouting at her boyfriend on her Nextel radio. Which means were all treated to both sides of a profanity laden lover's quarrel, which included his references to her as a "bitch" and hers to him as an "asshole."
After about 10 minutes of this heated debate, he stopped answering her.
"Hello? Are you there? Can you hear me?"
Yes, we all can hear you young lady! All of us on the train!
Unable to get a response from her boyfriend, she switched the device to the cellphone mode and proceeded to give his voice mail not one, not two but (count 'em) three pieces of her mind. It all mercifully ended when the conductor announced Elizabeth Broad Street Station as the next - and thankfully - her stop.
The excitement of that call was forgotten. Until this morning. While on the same line heading back to New York City, I sat in front of another attractive young lady, who yakked for about 20 minutes on her cellphone about a person she knew who recently died. "He looked so good the day before he died," she announced to her fellow passengers. We also learned about her brother's repeated indiscretions and grooming faux pas and her troubles on the job.
As soon as that conversation had ended, she rang up another friend to complain about the person she had just gotten off the phone with. "I couldn't get off the phone because he wouldn't stop talking" she declared, though from what I heard, she would have been far more accurate saying "I didn't let him get a word in edgewise."
Then we learned that she was meeting this co-worker she was talking with at New York Penn Station because they were coming in on different trains to attend a work-related conference. We also learned that the only thing she cared about was when they were serving the booze at the event. Oh yes, we also found out that she had to pee. Very very badly. So she'd have to take care of that little issue after they met up at the train station before heading to the conference.
When Amy overhears these kinds of conversations, she usually takes notes and then uses the information she writes down to contact someone involved in the call to let them know that they'd broadcasted personal or confidential business information to all within auditory range (you'd be surprised, Amy writes, about how many people spout off their phone numbers in public while on a cellphone). She also politely but firmly informs them that they were disrupting everyone else's space and peace of mind
I didn't go that far with these calls. But I have to agree with Amy. These instances of total disregard for others seem to be more prevalent lately. Amy's waging a one-woman war against the transgressors. I think I've pretty much reached my breaking point and I'm ready to join her in battle!